The story on Billy Conn (The Boxer And The Blonde, June 17) by the gifted Frank Deford is the most beautifully written saga I have ever read in SI, and that includes the many hundreds of excellent articles I've devoured since issue No. 1.
NORB KEARNS SR.
Howard Beach, N.Y.
If SI has a regional edition for Paradise, I'd be willing to bet that there is a former sports scribe named Red Smith telling a lady named Maggie Conn what a wonderful piece he'd read on her son, Billy, and, shortly thereafter, explaining to an all-too-young young lady named Alex Deford what a splendid writer her father is.
Your magazine has spawned legions of noteworthy wordsmiths and thousands of memorable articles since its inception in the summer of '54, but I don't recall any single story having contained the wealth of nostalgia, journalistic style or out-and-out romance (read: love) that is contained in this one by Frank Deford. It is one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read. Bravo, Deford, and thank you.
C. RICHARD CLARK
New City, N.Y.
It seems that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Frank Deford are establishing a wonderful tradition. Once a year Deford stops our world for an hour or two, and when we finish a piece like The Boxer And The Blonde or The Toughest Coach There Ever Was (April 30, 1984), there's a lump in our throat and a tear in our eye, and we are somehow a little bit better for having paused.
Great article on Billy Conn. Only an Irishman could write like that. I never knew Frank Deford was Irish.
(THE REV.) THOMAS J. GOGGIN
St. Ann Church
?He's not. Deford's paternal heritage is French Huguenot, his maternal (McAdams) is Scottish, "with some English antecedents on both sides." Frank says, "Since there are very few Huguenot stories around, I have to go into other people's ancestry."—ED.
Deford's story takes me back to my youth, to the night of June 18, 1941, when I sat by the radio drinking in every word and admiring the courage of Billy Conn in his fight with the great Joe Louis.
I hope that word will get to Conn that there are many, many of us out here who well remember him and that night. He certainly has a treasured spot in the sports pages of our minds.
JOHN A. KRONCKE
Berrien Springs, Mich.
I vividly recall that warm June 18, 1941 night. It was my 13th birthday and I sat hunched in front of the family's crackling old Lyric radio and listened ecstatically as the announcer informed boxing fans around the country that Conn was well ahead on points at the end of the 12th round and that surely Louis would have to knock out the hard-nosed Irish lad if he expected to hold on to his crown. Then came the unlucky 13th round and my ecstasy turned to agony as the Brown Bomber KO'd my cocky hero and ruined not only my birthday party but my whole summer vacation as well.
Time does not heal all wounds. Even today I wince and agonize whenever that particular segment of boxing history is recalled. I guess I always will.
BERNARD E. SHARPE