[Letter to the editor]Float, sting, fact-checkThe most important function of a newspaper is to get the facts straight, in opinion and news. Unfortunately there were errors in Chung Jin-hong’s “A True Champion Keeps Fighting” (June 11) about former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Chung insists Ali won the World Boxing Association title from Sonny Liston in 1964. In fact, Ali won both the WBA and WBC titles, but was stripped of the WBA title for having an immediate rematch with Liston. Chung says Ali was imprisoned for refusing to be conscripted into the Vietnam War. The fact is Ali never served one day in prison for not going to Vietnam. He insists that the end of Ali’s three-and-a-half-year suspension came “after” the Supreme Court ruled Ali not guilty of draft evasion. The fact is the Supreme Court made that ruling three fights into his return to boxing, in June 1971, months after his bout with Joe Frazier. He states George Foreman defeated Joe Frazier in a one-punch knockout in 1974. The fact is Frazier lost after being knocked to the canvas repeatedly, forcing the referee and his corner to stop the fight. And the fight happened in 1973, not 1974. He states Ali “became the first person to win a world title for a third time.” Others had done this before Ali: Sugar Ray Robinson won the world middleweight title for the fifth time in 1958, and Emile Griffith won the world welterweight title for the third time in 1963. He states Ali retired in 1980 when he was 38. But he retired from boxing in late 1981 at the age of 39.
I could also quibble with other interpretations. Ali did not box to avoid fights with “gangsters” but because a cop introduced him to the sport. Ali himself said he did not throw his gold medal in the Ohio River. Ali was not beat up “continuously” by George Foreman in 1974. Ali won the first round, had the fight in hand by the fifth, and put Foreman on the floor with a four-punch combination. When Ali lost to Leon Spinks late in his career, it was to a young but not “powerful” fighter. Spinks won the bout because of superior conditioning, not power.
Be a little more careful about the facts and this newspaper may compare itself to its Korean competitors and say, like Ali, “I am the greatest.”
Brett Conway, staff writer for Max Boxing and a professor at Namseoul University, Cheonan