There are persistent reports that in due course Jim Norris will announce his retirement from boxing for reasons of health. IBC staff officers say the reports are "fallacious." The reports are speculative but they make a certain good sense in view of Norris's long confinement, his history of a coronary thrombosis seven years ago and the likelihood that boxing's immediate future—in the ring and in court—will not be serene, will call for all the strength a healthy man can muster.
Norris is the sort of man who would prefer not to quit, would like to go down fighting. But who would say that, if he were forced to quit now, he did not go down fighting? At times the referee should intervene to save a fighter from unnecessary punishment.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has long opposed Norris's monopolistic control of boxing, which seems now to be breaking up, both in the courts and in Cus D'Amato's intransigent refusal to let his heavyweight champion have anything to do with the IBC. On principle, we would still like to see Norris's solitary reign ended but we would like to see this powerful, lusty figure of sport restored to good health, too.
THE ARCH OF TRIUMPH
I try never to let nobody hit me," Archie Moore once said, and it is this self-solicitude which has perpetuated Archie. Last week in a Los Angeles hall he demonstrated again, for those who might have missed, just how it is done. The occasion was another prizefight for the light-heavyweight championship of the world, and Archie's opponent this time was Tony Anthony, a slender young fellow from Harlem who could box resourcefully and hit resoundingly; but doubts were thick about the quality of his fighting heart and chin. There were, indeed, doubts about Archie as well. He had to reduce in a very short time from well over 200 pounds to the division limit of 175 if he was not to forfeit his title. He did this, although it took three weighins before the last excess quarter pound vanished, and when Archie appeared in the black corner at the Olympic Auditorium he looked exceptionally fit if a bit ludicrous in voluminous, Bermuda-length trunks. Another doubt was whether at 40 (or 43, it makes little difference) and after knockouts by Marciano and Patterson, Archie still had what it takes. As the fight progressed this uncertainty was shed quicker than the quarter pound. But it was not the way Archie hit that was so enlightening—it was, again, the manner in which Archie was not hit.
Long ago The Old Artificer constructed a defense in which he thrusts his arms horizontally across his chest and, hunching, withdraws his head below his meaty right forearm. This armor has stood him in good stead, although it lends him the aspect of someone who has stumbled upon a horrible sight. Over and over, Anthony would lash out with flurries that bounced off these arms or the hard top of that fine old thinking head. When Anthony quit these futile assaults, Moore would come out and pursue the challenger with sweeping hooks and clubbing right leads. "I try never, never, to get hit in the head," Archie has said.
Despite these frustrations, Anthony was doing perfectly all right until the sixth round (in fact, he won the second, and perhaps the third) when, with a minute gone, Moore worked him against the ropes and drove three left hooks to the side of his head. The challenger skidded along the ropes, tentatively grasping the topmost strand. Encountering no opposition, Moore then hit Anthony with 42 consecutive punches and finally, with but six seconds remaining, Anthony sank. In the seventh round, Moore trapped his man in a corner, set him up with two left hooks and crossed with the right. On his hands and knees, Anthony stared vacantly, almost piteously, at his handlers as Referee Mushy Callahan hastily intervened. Anthony had lost, but his heart and chin had been vindicated.
Later, while Archie was orating in his dressing room, a man came in and whispered in his ear that Anthony was sobbing uncontrollably in his dressing room. Archie pushed his way down the crowded corridor to Anthony's room. From beneath the ice pack on his swollen eye, tears welled and rolled down Anthony's cheek.
Archie put his arm about Anthony's slender shoulders—an arm as thick as Anthony's neck.
"Don't do that, boy," he said soothingly. "Just let me tell you something. You had me going out there tonight. You were winging those punches in there a mile a minute—and they hurt. You just keep on training the way you been, and there won't be anything for you to be sad about."