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It's Dundee vs. Stassi in battle of gloves

It's Dundee vs. Stassi in battle of gloves


TOKYO (S&S) — Angelo Dundee, trainer of Muhammad Ali, and Mac Foster's manager George Stassi brandished boxing gloves at each other Tuesday but exchanged only bitter words over what kind of gloves their two American boxers fighting in Tokyo should use Saturday.

In a spirited flurry almost as entertaining as the shouting matches between the fighters themselves, Stassi insisted on Mexican-made gloves and Dundee opted for Japanese ones, later relenting to say he would accept a European-style glove of Mexican manufacture.

Happened like this: Backers of both fighters, including Dundee's brother Chris, got together with Japan Boxing Commission officials at Korakuen Hanten (Chinese Restaurant) to discuss rules that will apply in Saturday's 15-round match at the Budokan. All went well until two kinds of gloves were laid upon the long table — Japanese and Mexican.

"I accept Japanese gloves," Dundee said. "They're great gloves. I prefer Japanese gloves."

"I prefer Mexican gloves," Stassi said lightly, fingering a glove made by the Casanova firm.

"Then go to Mexico to fight," Dundee replied.

"I'm not sure Ali could get a visa," Stassi retorted, before taking a stubborn, arms-folded stand from which he would not budge. He insisted that he and Ali's manager, Herbert Muhammad, had agreed last January to foreign-made gloves — Mexican gloves.

"You want a (unprintable) fight, use (unprintable) gloves," Stassi said. Dundee insisted that the Japanese gloves were better for Ali's fist, alleging that the Mexican gloves were too tight and lightly-padded across the knuckles and that Ali could hurt his hands.

"I'm used to using Mexican gloves," Stassi said. "My fighter's used to using Mexican gloves. It's a little harder for my fighter to use anything but Mexican gloves. They (Ali's management) are not worried about (Ali's) fist getting hurt but his chin getting hurt."

Kotai Kikuchi, JBC executive secretary, tried to break the impasse by saying the commission would "solve" it before the fight in a fair manner."

That seemed to temporarily satisfy everybody. Then Dundee asked that rule 8 on a list of regulations be read. It called for eight-ounce gloves to be furnished by the JBC.

Chris Dundee jumped into the fact. He placed one of the Mexican gloves on the scale and announced, "These are not eight-ounce gloves." Stassi thumped a Japanese glove into his fist and made a wry face. A sympathetic newsman suggested that Everlast or another American brand be used.

"No, no," Stassi said. "We agreed in January that this boxing contest would be fought with Mexican gloves. They can be Casanova-made gloves or Sayers-made gloves. I'll flip a coin to see which one."

Trainer Dundee joined his brother in insisting that gloves were too light and tight. "I'm not going to jeopardize my fighter's fists and his whole future on the flip of a coin. These Mexican gloves are made for lighter fighters."

"I think they should put this in proper context," Stassi replied hotly. "It's not his (Ali's) hand but his chin that's worrying them. They would want 16-ounce gloves."

Dundee grabbed up one of the Japanese gloves, drew a tape measure across it and thrust it at Stassi, trying to show it was wider and better padded for a heavyweight fight. Stassi maintained that Japanese gloves had too much padding and the Casanovas would mean a better fight.

"If Sayers gloves are coming," Dundee said, "I'll use them. If you say that glove (the Casanova) is any good, you're out of your bird!"

Dundee thrust his hand into a Mexican glove and said his hand was as big as his fighter's and it hardly fit.

"Who's getting into that ring Saturday?" Stassi asked. "You or your fighter? Don't try to make a monkey out of me."

"You don't know what you're talking about," Dundee snapped.

Other issues were discussed. When the meeting opened, Stassi asked that one rule, declaring a fighter knocked out if he is floored three times in a round, be waived because a boxer could slip. Kikuchi rejected that, saying the rules clearly stated knockdowns scored by "effective blows." A few sparks flickered between Stassi and Dundee as Ali's trainer said the ruling was perfectly acceptable to him, along with the pending commission decision on a referee.

The glove issue flared again when a messenger brought in a large box and set it before Chris Dundee. They were clearly marked "Everlast." Chuckling, Angelo Dundee said he had expected Sayers and that these had been delivered by mistake. Stassi was not amused.

"How about a compromise?" suggested Kikuchi. No, said Stassi — Sayers and Sayers only. Dundee said he would accept Sayers and Kikuchi closed the debate, making it clear that the commission would have the final say.

Stassi also proposed that each corner exchange one second to act as an "observer." Kikuchi said no, although Ali's trainer said it was acceptable to him.

As the meeting broke up, Angelo Dundee measured both gloves for onlookers and most agreed with him. Chris said the Casanovas weighed only six and a half ounces.

"His (unprintable) weighs six and a half ounces," Stassi stormed to a Pacific Stars and Stripes reporter. Grasping the newsman's hand, he braced the hand as though it were tightly and properly bound, then insisted that a narrow, lightly-padded glove would better brace and protect a fighter's fist.

"If that's not right, I'll kiss him (Angelo Dundee) in the middle of the main street of Tokyo and give him four days to draw a crowd." (That is not precisely what Mr. Stassi said, but it must suffice for print.)

Ali did his share of entertaining, too. He did no sparring at nearby Tanabe Gym, but tirelessly stepped through 10 fast rounds — shadow boxing, the heavy bag and the speed bag. As the session ended, Ali gamely stepped into the ring to "spar" with two of the blackbelt karate men who came up from a downstairs dojo to watch him. Squaring off with one of them, Ali went into the clownish sumo stance that convulsed a large crowd at Yokota Air Base last Sunday. Then he feinted a punch at the midsection and a kick. The other man moved forward and Ali, employing his famous shuffle, moved aside in a blur. The non-match was over.

Foster trained and sparred at Toa Fighting Gym. A Japanese attendant ordered out Ali's sparring partners, Dave Adkins and Alonzo Johnson, when they showed up to watch.

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