SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
October 17, 1983
WATT STEPS DOWNThe ill-considered remark that led to Interior Secretary James Watt's resignation on Sunday wasn't an isolated phenomenon. Watt's offensive reference to the commission he appointed to review his coal-leasing program as consisting of "a black...a woman, two Jews and a cripple" was, like his many other insensitive utterances, a product of the same atrocious judgment he displayed in making public policy. One of Watt's most ardent champions, Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson, tried to explain away the crack as simply an example of Watt's lead-balloon sense of humor. But a man who doesn't know what's funny may also have trouble discerning what's serious, and Watt made a joke of his office with his often unseemly eagerness to develop or dispose of the public lands in his trust. It would be unfortunate if history records that Watt left office merely because of an intemperate remark. He was guilty of worse.
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October 17, 1983


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Lightweight Isidro (Gino) Perez died in New York last week of injuries he suffered when he was knocked out in a Madison Square Garden fight six days earlier by Juan Ramon Cruz. Adding embarrassment to tragedy, the promoters of the fight were still having difficulty figuring out Perez' record. Garden officials listed it as 13-1-1 going into the Cruz bout but said that didn't include fights they suspected but couldn't confirm that Perez might have had in his native Mexico. Perez' manager, Al Certo, at first said his boxer's record was 17-1-1 or 18-1-1, but later allowed that he wasn't sure. Records compiled by The Ring indicated that Perez' record was 18-4-2, but Certo, the Garden and the New York State Athletic Commission all agreed that the magazine had mistakenly included several fights that actually involved another boxer with a similar name.

New York authorities said that Perez passed a rigorous physical exam last July to obtain his license in that state. Still, the confusion over his record left open the question of whether he might have suffered injuries in some previous fight that contributed to his death; if authorities don't know where and when a boxer has fought, it follows that they don't know where and when he might have been hurt.

The discrepancies in Perez' record prompted New York State Athletic Commission Chairman John Branca to renew an appeal that he and others have previously made for creation of a clearinghouse that would keep track of every boxer's fights and medical history. "We need to know more about his previous fights, how he fought, if he was hurt," said Branca. Going even further, New Jersey Deputy Athletic Commissioner Bob Lee called for adoption of procedures to have "inspectors" routinely check for injuries inflicted in gyms. "Some of the worst injuries happen in the gym," said Lee. "You hear things like, 'This guy was knocked out cold in a gym early in the week.' How can he be allowed to fight the following Friday?"

It's hard to imagine how either a comprehensive clearinghouse or an effective gym-inspection system can be created without federal regulation of the sport. Such regulation might well be expected to reduce the number of abuses not only in the U.S. but also, in certain cases, abroad. A Danish promoter named Mogens Palle certainly could have used better information from the U.S. when he booked Boston heavyweight Al Brooks to fight Anders Eklund last week in Copenhagen. Palle said he'd been told by an American matchmaker that Brooks was 29 years old and had won eight of 13 pro fights, including two victories this year. But, Palle said, Brooks admitted upon arrival in Copenhagen that he was actually 39 and hadn't fought in more than a year. Palle sent Brooks home and replaced him with an Italian fighter.


An outdoor writer of our acquaintance was alarmed by this headline in The New York Times, which was on a story having to do, it turned out, with alleged suppression of free speech in a foreign land:



Inspired by the outpouring of tributes lavished on retiring Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski, the producers of The Sports Huddle, a phone-in show on Boston radio station WHDH, figured it was time for some satirical relief. For their show on Sunday, Oct. 2, the last day of the regular season, they decided to find and lionize an obscure baseball person who also planned to hang up his cleats. The retiree they settled on was Vera Rapp, 55, who never played in the big leagues but managed the St. Louis Cardinals in 1977 and part of 1978 and who was now stepping down after five years as first-base coach of the Montreal Expos.

The tribute to Rapp was mostly tongue in cheek. A mock telethon was staged, in which phone callers were invited to pledge money to a retirement fund for Rapp. Substantial sums were pledged. The show's hosts strained to relate Rapp anecdotes, of which, it developed, they had virtually none, and the executive producer, Bruce Cornblatt, warbled a song he wrote to the tune of Bye Bye Birdie:

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