SPORT OF FUTURE KINGS
The legislature of Iceland, by unanimous vote, has outlawed boxing—no bouts, no exhibitions, no training. This is not necessarily a death blow to the ancient sport—except, of course, in Iceland—but it is certainly a straw in a rising wind. Norway's Director of Public Health wants to ban it too. And in Italy, the Archbishop of Turin has denounced it as "inhuman, uncivilized, and...lethal." The editors of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED like boxing and disagree with all these gentlemen. They were happy to see that in London last week one small fist was raised in defense of the sport. It belonged to the 8-year-old Duke of Cornwall, who is better known as Prince Charles, the son and heir of the Queen of England.
Young Charles was a brand-new schoolboy, the first heir to the throne ever to attend grade school in an ordinary classroom. London papers were covering the historic occasion in depth, with full descriptions of the school (a private one, with 102 pupils), a list of Charles's activities and a teatime interview with the headmaster.
"I do not believe in boxing for small boys," the headmaster said, in discussing the school's sports program. "Nine out of 10 don't like it. We don't do it at this age. As an amateur sport it is practically dead. We do not need that sort of toughness."
The reporters wrote it all down, and the papers printed it. While the public read it next day, Bonny Prince Charlie, playing soccer with his classmates, fell into disagreement with one of them and came to blows (see page 24). A cameraman with a telephoto lens recorded the royal battle, which was short, awkward and decisive. Charles won. In doing so he seemed to have set his small but royal veto on the opinions of the headmaster, the Norwegian Director of Public Health, the Archbishop of Turin and the legislature of Iceland.
ADD ONE BUM
When the public address organ strikes up Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly? next spring and a sad little clown strolls out of the Brooklyn dugout, a cycle will have been completed. Everything will have happened at Eb-bets Field, where everything is supposed to happen. The Dodgers last week signed Emmett Kelly, one of the greatest pantomime artists of his time, "to relieve some of the tension at Ebbets Field."
It won't be easy. Suppose the day is sunny and Brooklyn fans are happy because Sal Maglie is working, and the Giants belt him out in the first inning. What does Emmett Kelly do to make them laugh? Say Duke Snider strikes out with the bases loaded in the ninth. How does Kelly send the tense residents of the borough home untensed? Just by cracking a peanut with a sledge hammer?
No doubt, Emmett Kelly, who is a thoughtful man, had thought about this problem before he ever signed up with Brooklyn. In his book Clown, Kelly writes: "I must suit the action to the mood and to the makeup and everyone of these is exaggerated." Well, the mood of Dodger fans depends mainly on the current state of the team—and when Big Newk is rocking along on a six-run lead and Pee Wee Reese is covering ground like a 20-year-old and the patrons of Ebbets are tense with pleasure, do they really want to be untensed?
It's pretty clear, in short, that Kelly, in moving up from the big tent to the big leagues at 58, can be facing something like an ultimate challenge to his art. The putty nose, the ragged clothes and the flapping shoes will be appropriate dress in the home of the Bums, of course. And when Kelly moves into the spotlight—the very same spotlight he chased so unsuccessfully for so many years with a broom—Brooklyn should adopt him like a son. After all, the Dodgers aren't getting any younger and may be facing an ultimate challenge to their art, too, this season. The betting here is that Brooklyn fans will soon be assuring each other that Kelly, like the other Bums, will come up with something.