Drag racing was the sport for us in smalltime Texas in the fifties, and ad hoc races happened most nights, and one of the prime complaints which everyone lamented yet all practiced was the Shutdown. When you’re screeching off the line and you see your gate job ain’t enough to stay ahead of that 409 on the high end, you shut it down and claim you missed second. If you cannot win, why lose? That’s the way the game was played. We were all cowards then.

Ring Magazine cover - 1964

The greatest metaphor in the history of sports may well have been the battle between the butterfly Cassius Clay and the bear Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight champeenship in 1964. What a night that was.

Well, actually, it comprised mostly left hook leads by Liston easily leaned away from by Clay. Not that great a fight, if you want to know.

But about quitting, it says as much as the infamous "No Mas" welterweight bout of 1980, also terminated early without noticeable cause and, I believe, for the same reason: hand-wringing about the handwriting on the wall. A favorite just didn’t have it and knew it and didn’t want to show it.

Boxing is a primitive game and often the cause and effects are elementary as well. There is, for instance, an assurance of victory or defeat missing from poker and tennis, which can see reverses on big plays at any moment. When your best shots in the ring have been of no avail, however, you’re toast, and you know it.

Randall ("Tex") Cobb, a plain-speaking heavyweight, says, "If you screw up in tennis, it’s 15-love.If you screw up in boxing, it’s your ass, darling." – reported in Time

If you want to review the Liston-Clay bout, you will notice the lulling monotony of Liston leading, Clay leaning out of range. Liston also noticed, which is a dangerous mindset in that game. He was cut up by several counter combinations, and it was Liston who showed marks by the sixth round. And that was when the running stopped. Clay no longer needed to escape, and still Liston was unable to score.

The rest of the fight was clear as a child throwing a ball into the air. What happens when it reaches the apex of its arc? You don’t have to be a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.

Liston refused to come out for the seventh round. He later claimed something pulled in a shoulder. Earlier, Clay had some contamination in his eyes from some source and was almost blinded, but by the sixth round, it was Liston who could see clearly now. (See the last of the sixth round and the end here.)

Simple Sarah also saw the future, and she saw nothing good in it. When oil revenues and federal largesse are flowing to that national sponge for handouts which is Alaska, anybody can pose as "Governor." But when the engine sputters, the economy tanks, oil prices are low, when I mean it’s time to get out and go under, a different style is called for, and Sarah has not the mind nor moxie for actual knowing and deciding.

Liston claimed a pulled muscle. Duran also had a sampling of alibis for his utterly unforced retirement from the ring in ’84. And now Simple Sarah wails about all the ethics violations she regards as "frivolous." Winners score in many unique ways, but quitters all lose the same.



Smalltown Texan, Blackland Prairie, a senior. Sometimes I have trouble keeping up. Married, with Rottie/Pit. Reading, and some writing, that's me.