SI Vault
May 23, 1955
Yardstick blues, Pennsylvania acts, A mighty mite tunes up, Let's meet again, Big chases small, More bounce per ounce, A stiff neck
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May 23, 1955

Events & Discoveries

Yardstick blues, Pennsylvania acts, A mighty mite tunes up, Let's meet again, Big chases small, More bounce per ounce, A stiff neck

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The clockers could hardly believe their eyes—or their watches. In the 100-yard dash at the Louisiana State-Tulane track meet last week, winner Billy Jones of LSU was caught in the magic, the unattainable time of 9.0 flat. It was a moment for history, a moment of timeless glory not only for Billy Jones but for all who saw it happen. To make everything legal the officials measured off the distance—and found it 90 yards instead of 100.


Suspension of boxing for 90 days—which is what Governor George M. Leader of Pennsylvania did to it in his state last week—is better than forever. It gives time to think, to evaluate and to investigate. It does not quite revert to the time when boxing was, like liquor, under Prohibition.

Boxing is headed that way, though. There has been enough dirty business in the sport to make the old-fashioned saloon look like the Vassar campus at Commencement. The dirt has begun to come out for all to see, as when boxing fans in a million homes, as well as those at Philadelphia's Arena, watched Harold Johnson stagger drunkenly, because drugged, through two fitful rounds with Julio Mederos, 1-4 underdog, and then collapse (SI, May 16). Governor Leader ordered an investigation, then issued his three-month suspension order. This week the Pennsylvania investigation began.

What Governor Leader noted was that the drugging of Johnson must have been apparent even before he stumbled up the ring steps to begin the fight. The boxer's handlers, nevertheless, let him continue until legs and arms were patently useless.

While James H. Crowley, Pennsylvania's new commission chairman, was trying to find out who drugged Johnson, Julius Helfand, New York's new boxing commission chairman, was studying some drugless surgery by which Vince Martinez, third-ranked welterweight, was cut off from his livelihood. Helfand awaited the testimony of James D. Norris, president of the International Boxing Club, and William Daly, treasurer of the International Boxing Guild, a managers' organization, to complete his inquiry.

He had heard Harry Markson, IBC's astute general manager, express a winsome wish that somehow all the power of Jim Norris, who holds exclusive contracts with all but the flyweight and bantamweight champions (both foreign) and of the IBC, which Norris controls and which in turn controls the prime TV and other boxing outlets, could have persuaded just one fight manager to give just one fight to Vince. But Vince had split with his manager, Daly, and in spite for that action, Vince was "grounded."

"He excellent attraction," Markson said, contemplating a Martinez bout. But, he said, after IBC had made valiant efforts to get fights for Martinez, it began to appear that other managers had an "exalted sympathy...if I may use that expression," for Daly.

Indeed, he said, managers "have avarice and cupidity in their hearts" and would try to promote championship fights themselves, unless IBC exercised its promotional control.

As to the Martinez blacklisting, Markson thought it was "disgraceful and outrageous" that a fighter he regarded as only two fights away from a championship bout should be so treated.

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