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From the archives:: Clay still Big Talk

Laughing Boy Cassius Clay is still popping off in a calculating but harmless sort of a way. He’s a big, good-natured, happy-go-lucky young man who knows exactly what he’s doing when he runs off at the mouth.

Like so many well known fighters, there’s a lot of the con man in him. Archie Moore is a con artist from a way back but this kid, not yet, 21, is almost a match for him already.

Laughing Boy has all the essentials to be a true con man. He doesn’t get angry. When his bluff is called, he remains utterly unruffled and pleasantly ignores rebuffs.

He has the nerve of a second-story man. In the presence of a large party at the Cal and Aileen Eatons Sunday night, he said goodbye by announcing that he would vanquish his next opponent, Alejandro Lavorante, in five rounds. They headline the Fight for Lives show at the Sports Arena July 20.

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Lavorante, standing next to him, merely smiled and shrugged his shoulders. Faced with someone like Cassius, there isn’t much else you can do without feeling sillier.

Earlier in the evening, Laughing Boy coolly admitted that he has talked himself into fame and fortune. “Newspapermen don’t have time to waste on guys who can only say yes and no,” he declared gaily.

“Look at you,” he said, and peered at me brightly. “What would you write if I didn’t talk? Your business is writing and you can’t write if you don’t have anything to write about.”

“Cassius,” broke in his brother, Rudy, admiringly. “You’ll be talking when you die.”

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“Yessir,” agreed Cassius completely. Then, turning to his audience, he blissfully informed them: “Sid doesn’t think that I can beat Archie Moore.”

“That’s right,” I admitted. “You’ve got to grow up first. You’d be just another babe-in-the-woods in his league.”

“See,” chuckled Laughing Boy happily, addressing his group: “Sid, here, doesn’t realize that Archie is flabby, out of shape, 51 years old, and barely has enough wind left to stay alive.

“That’s why I say Lavorante will ‘leave’ in five rounds with me. If anybody lets an old man like Archie whip him, he can’t be a good young fighter. If he was any good he would have won. It was a shame and a disgrace.

“I figure,” decided Cassius, “that Archie is about half as good as me — if that.”

Having insulted everyone he could think of, Laughing Boy admitted it was all part of his scheme. “I get ’em so mad they can’t see straight when they get in the ring with me,” he explained.

“Now I’ve got to work hard and try to back up some of this big talk. Nine out of 10 people are just waiting for me to flop.”

The hit of Eaton’s garden party was a tiny four-year-old boy, knee-high to a grasshopper, who is a child prodigy at the drums. His name is James Bradley Jr. The tot has been playing  since he was 1½. He was keeping a beat with pencils before he could walk.

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The kid played the full set of drums, the bass, tom tom, sock cymbal, high hat, snare, ride cymbal, and bell and block, so expertly he soon had Laughing Boy jealous.

Takes Play Away From the Kid

True to form, Cassius came over and took the sticks away from the lad, waved them in his face and boasted: “I can beat you.”

Surprising everyone, Cassius did a good job. I can see he’s a born competitor. He wouldn’t even let the kid beat him.

Enviously, Cassius asked the boy’s father if the lad could read music. “He can barely talk yet, let alone read music,” replied papa.

Introduced to attorney Paul Caruso, Laughing Boy gushed: “Are you Art Aragon’s manager? You are? Gee, I want to meet him. If I could only get his gimmick going I’d really be a marvel.”

Despite his conceit, Cassius is in for a tough night with Lavorante.

“Alejandro realizes if we lose this one we go back to the sticks,” said his manager Pinkie George sadly. “It means back to the buses and the tank towns for both of us and I’m getting too old for that. And Alejandro doesn’t care for it either. We’re not discounting Clay. He has faster hands than Lavorante. But he can’t punch and that’s our key advantage.”

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Did Scorer Violate Unwritten Rule?

Did Jimmy McGee, the official scorer, violate an unwritten rule when he called a hit against Sandy Koufax in Candlestick Park Sunday when Larry Burright muffed a routine ground ball? It looked like an out-and-out error to me.

It’s not in the rule book but scorers long ago decided among themselves that when a no-hitter is possible the first hit should be a good one before they call it.

In other words, the scorer is expected, in these cases, to lean a little bit to the pitcher where a reasonable doubt exists.

I think Sandy got the works.

Brito Showing Remarkable Recovery

Here’s the latest information on Gene Brito, who is now at Wadsworth General Hospital in Sawtelle, a Veteran Administration facility. Les Richter, who visited him recently, says he is now sitting up in a wheel chair about five hours a day. He has been doing exceptionally well. He is allowed visitors if they are very close friends. He does not have to use any mechanical aids in order to breathe.

“They’re very optimistic from the way he has improved since last February and March,” said Richter. “But they can’t tell to what extent he will fully recover.”

The Gene Brito Fund, sponsored by the 1961 Ram team, is over $84,000. It is all earmarked for the needs of Brito and his family.

Around the Sports Beat

They’re saying at Hollywood Park that a security guard who picked up a discarded daily double ticket — it was worth over $1,000 — turned it over to the customer who lost it and received a $1 tip.

The spitball is no longer a problem. Now it’s the spitting player who ought to be barred, at least when games are on TV. It was a close race between Dodgers and Giants as to whose players would do the most spitting in the games on KTTV last week. Individual championship went to Juan Marichal.

Note: This article was originally published on July 10, 1962.


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