Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on February 15, 1994 · Page 45
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · Page 45

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Tuesday, February 15, 1994
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Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, February 15, 1994 Section 4 3 Left hooks are a girl's best Mend as Golden Gloves history is made By Bob Sakamoto Tribune Stmt Write! ; The telling blow was the first left-hand lead that landed smack dab. in the middle of Jacqueline Ta's face. ! Her life, and Indeed, the boxing world, would never be the same. : Ta and Tracy Desmond were part of history in the making Monday night as participants in the first female boxing match officially sanctioned by USA Boxing, the amateur sport's national governing body. There were lights, cameras and action aplenty at opening night of the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament at St Andrew's gym. This isn't a beauty contest, this isn't a fashion showthis is boxing," said Desmond, a 21-year-old senior at De Paul majoring in international studies. "Women shouldVe been able to box a long time ago. We shouldn't be compared to the men. It's the same sport. Just a different style. But we're going to show people we can box Just as good as the men." Desmond demonstrated the footwork, agility and a peek-a-boo punching style that belied her rela tive inexperience; she has trained less than six months. She nailed Ta with that leading left in the first round that resulted in a standing eight-count for the 18-year-old Junior from the University of Chicago. A follow-up series of lefts and rights forced Ta to turn her back for protection. Pressing her advantage, Desmond opened the second round with four consecutive lefts to the face. Ta again retreated from another flurry that mandated a second standing eight-count Finally, 29 seconds into the final round, referee Sean Curtin halted the fight and awarded Desmond a technical knockout "Getting hit in the face was disorienting, and I was a little stunned," said Ta. a member of the U of C's tennis team and a political science major. "1 tried to fight back, but I wasnt aggressive enough. I don't get hit in the face very often I don't get hit, period." Desmond does. "I get hit in the face all the time from my sensei karate teacherj," Desmond said as she motioned for Yasunori Matsumoto to Join in the postfight celebration. "I have a brown belt in full-contact karate, and he hits me there all the time. Sensei, this was for you." The victory advances Desmond in the 119-pound class of the women's novice division and makes her an early favorite to qualify for the Golden Gloves championships April 4 at the Horizon. Desmond said her prefight karate method of focusing helped her block out all the distractions of this historical bout Boxing appealed to her because of the opportunity to compete against other women. In her discipline of karate, she fights mostly men because few women take up the full-contact martial art Ta has only been training for three months, taking buses and trains to various training sites because she couldn't get established at a particular gym. That seemed to mirror her life's story. Born in Saigon, she lived in Connecticut and California before coming here. A top-notch student she was able to skip the 7th grade and her senior year in high school, graduating at age 15. "I started boxing because it's a way of conquering my fear," Ta said. Tve always been afraid of getting hit The only way to over come your fear is to face it Picking up the pieces of tragedy Teams regroup, ready to run a year after accidents claim NASCAR's Kulwicki, Allison By Robert Markus Tribune Staff Writer This is a tale of two tragedies, the story of two racing teams in trauma and how they responded to their devastating losses. One year ago, as the NASCAR Winston Cup stock car season was about to begin at Daytona, Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison were the focal points of the campaign. Kulwicki was the defending champion, having won the title by the slimmest of margins in the final race of the 1992 season. But it was more the manner of his win than the victory itself that had set him apart Kulwicki was not only owner-driver of the No. 7 Hooters Ford, he was his own engineer. And, although it may have no longer been true, because of various pit-crew malfunctions earlier pi his career, it was thought by many that he had literally single-handedly carried his team to the title. Allison, oldest son of racing legend Bobby Allison, had endured a season of triumph and trauma perhaps unmatched in the annals of his or any sport Davey Allison had tied Bill Elliott for most victories, with five, and had been either first or second in point standings all season long until that final race in Atlanta when a crash not of his own making left him in third place in the final standings. ? u vHh-sM ' .v -. ' But along the way he had logged more hospital time than a first-year resident had driven with broken bones and a broken heart following the death of his brother, Clifford, in a wreck during practice for a race in Michigan. By the middle of July, both would be dead, Kulwicki killed in the crash of a light plane taking him to a race in Tennessee, Allison the victim of a helicopter crash at a racetrack in Alabama. The death of drivers Neil Bonnett and Rodney Orr at Daytona in the last few days were gruesome reminders of how dangerous a sport auto racing can be. But Kulwicki's and Allison's accidents could have happened to anyone. A coalminer, shoe salesman, business executive. And, just like that two of the brightest stars in the sport had been extinguished. The stars might be gone, but the Earth does not stand still. The season went on and so did the teams that were left behind. As the new season is about to begin, both teams are hoping to dig out from the emotional wreckage and start anew. Not too surprisingly, Allison's old team is much further along than Kulwicki's. In fact, after hiring Ernie Irvan late in the season, the Robert Yates team won two races and is one of the favorites to win this year's Winston Cup championship. Kulwicki's team, which eventually was purchased by driver Geoff Bodine and his wife, Kathy, never did right itself and is an unknown quantity going into the season. Although it is distasteful to try to quantify it in human terms, there is no question that Kulwicki's team suffered the greater loss. Allison was a talented driver, beloved by his team. His loss could be likened to the Dallas Cowboys losing quarterback Troy Aikman. When Kulwicki died, it was as if the Cowboys lost Aikman, coach Jimmy Johnson and owner Jerry Jones in the same plane crash. "There was your leader, your owner and your driver and he's gone," recalls Kulwicki's crew chief Paul Andrews. "Yeah, we were worried about the future, every one of us. But we stuck together. Other people were talking to me, I wont deny it and I'd listen to a few. But I wouldn't dream of leaving this team. This team has gone through a lot together. So far only one guy has even talked about leaving other than those who wanted to get out of racing altogether." Another death during Daytona 500 practice AP photo Daytona crew members line pit road to honor driver Neil Bonnett, who died Friday. In the Immediate aftermath of Kulwicki's death, the team was supervised by Felix Sa-bates, who owns Kyle Petty's race car, with Jimmy Hensley as the driver. When Bodine bought the team while still driving for Bud Moore, "I left Paul Andrews and Jimmy alone," he says. "It was kind of a strange deal It didn't feel right" As they start the new year, Bodine is filled with hope and enthusiasm. It had been his longtime dream to own his own team but "we were looking to the future, not 1994. My wife and I had talked to a lot of people way prior to April when Kulwicki died. We were letting people know that someday we wanted to be car owners. There was really no timetable, but it got people to thinking." One of the people Bodine had talked with was Sabates, who was put in charge of the estate after Kulwicki's father, Gerald, decided he did not want to run the team himself. "Everything happened so quickly," said Bodine. "Kathy and I sat down and talked. Do we want to be car owners now? We hadn't planned on it that soon. We met with the team and that's when we decided, let's try to get this team. "We were impressed with the way they all wanted to stay together. We didn't start from scratch. This is a championship team. These guys were here when Alan won the championship. This team is good enough to win, from the Busch Clash to Atlanta." No one had ever doubted that the Yates team was good enough to win, but until Irvan came aboard late in the year it, too, had struggled. But while Kulwicki's team was basically rudderless, the Yates team still had Yates. "He eats, sleeps and breathes this with us," says crew chief Larry McReynolds. "When the tragedy happened back in July, we all spent countless hours together as any family would do. We spent a lot of hours talking and Robert tried to pull from me what I thought I told him I thought we've got a tough race team and this will test us. It will pull you this way or it will pull you that way. The team was tested and I'm proud to say it passed the test" "The loss was so sudden," recalls crew member Dave Kriska. "At first you're in shock. The best thing that comes out of it is you don't take each other for granted anymore. You realize how important he was, how important any of us are to this team. It made us see the light. We've got a good bunch of guys here. Not many teams could have come back the way this team came back from a tragedy like that and win races." "We miss Davey, but we don't have him," says Yates. "This Is our livelihood, so we continued on." Getting Irvan for the last nine races he had to buy out the remainder of his contract from the Morgan-McClure team "was way beyond my expectations," says McReynolds. "It was like a nine-race test session for the future. It was a great plus for us." Irvan, like Allison, is a hard-charging driver, but Irvan has a reputation for sometimes charging too hard. McReynolds says he has already seen evidence of a new maturity and Irvan says his new teammates "have proved to me that you're going to have problems in a race, but the way you win championships is that when you have problems you come back and still run good. You've got to turn a bad day into a top 10 and a good day into wins." 'Worst' crash claims Orr on day fellow NASCAR driver Bonnett is laid to rest back in Alabama Associated Press DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-Be-fore its first victim of 1994 could even be buried, the treacherous Daytona International Speedway oval took another life on Monday. Rodney Orr, a 31-year-old racer from Palm Coast Fla., was killed in a one-car crash that Gary Nelson, the Winston Cup director called "the worst Tve ever seen." Orr's Ford Thunderbird went out of control and flipped in Turn 2 on the high-banked 2.5-mile oval and smashed into the concrete wall at the top of the banking, the roof over the driver's side of the car taking the initial impact. The driver, defending champion of the Goody's Dash sedan series, was taken to Halifax Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival at 10:06 a.m. EST from massive head and upper-body injuries. The racing community, which was to bury longtime racer and friend Neil Bonnett killed in a one-car crash in Daytona's Turn 4 on Friday later Monday in Hueytown, Ala., was deep in shock after this latest blow. Bonnett was 47 years old and trying to renew a career in which he won 18 Winston Cup races and became one of the most popular drivers in the series, while Orr was Just trying to get a foothold on the big time of the dangerous sport "We've got to take a look at what's going on," said Rusty Wallace, the 1989 Winston Cup champion and the survivor of a wild, flipping crash on the backstretch during last year's Daytona 500. "Fm tired of losing my friends on this racetrack and there's no reason for it to continue." But Wallace wasn't suggesting that any changes be made to the track. Instead, he talked about the driver's taking care of themselves and others on the racing surface. "Don't just get out here and mash the gas and throw your brains in the trunk," he said. "A lot of team owners think that's what you have to do to go fast You don't have to do that" There seemed to be no pattern to the nasty accidents at Daytona this month, which also include a pair of ARCA stock car accidents. Andy Farr came away with a fractured sternum on Thursday after he hit the Turn-4 wall, knocking a chunk out of the concrete and tearing down 75 feet of catch-fencing at the top of the wall. Then, during Sunday's ARCA race, Mark Thompson sustained a concussion, three broken ribs and assorted cuts and bruises in a spectacular, flipping crash in the grass along the back-stretch. Chip Williams, a spokesman for NASCAR, the sanctioning body of the Winston Cup division, said the crashes did not appear to be connected In any way. "There are a lot of theories out there in the garage area, but we don't have a theory right now," Williams said Some drivers indicated that gusting winds might have had something to do with both of the fatal crashes, but Williams said, "We don't have any reason to think that the winds had any- Tragedy at Daytona Fatalities at Daytona International Speedway since It opened February 1959: Fab. 11, 1959 Marshall league, speed test. Apr 4, 1959 George Amick, USAC lOO-mile race. June 14, 1959 Dr. Bernie Taylor, powerboat race In Infield lake. June 18, 1960 Martin Every, engineering test Feb. 21, 1964 Harold Haber-ling, stock car practice. Jan. S, 1965 Bill Wade, stock car tire test. Feb. 21, 1969 Don Mac-Tavish, Sportsman 300 race. March 12, 1969 Wayne Bartz, lightweight motorcycle race. Feb. 19, 1970 Talmadge "Tab" Prince, Twln-125 qualifying race. March 14, 1971 Joe "Rusty" Bradley, Daytona 200 race. Jury 30, 1971 David Pearl, Paul Whlteman Trophy race. Fab. 17, 1971 Friday Hassler, Twin-125 qualifying race. Fab. 14, 1980 Ricky Knotts, Twin-125 qualifying race. Fab. 4, 1984 Stuart Roberts, spectator hit by fellow spectator' car in infield. Feb. 7, 1985 Francis Affleck, ARCA practice. Dae. 26, 1985 Dr. Charles Ogle, Injured in stock car testing on Dec. 15, 1985. Feb. 4, 1987 Bruce Jacobl, injured in Twln-125 qualifying race on Feb. 17, 1983. Feb. 13, 1987 Joe Young, Florida 200 Dash race. Dec. 27, 1987 James Kol-man, go-kart testing. Fab. 26, 1988 Randy Glenn, motorcycle practice. May 21, 1989 Don Williams, Injured in Sportsman 300 race on Feb. 17, 1979. Dae 27, 1989 Dale Robertson, go-kart race. Feb. 14, 1990 Julius "Slick" Johnson, Injured In ARCA 200 race on Feb. 11, 1990. Fab. 12, 1993 Joe Booher, Florida 200 Dash race. March 7, 1993 James Adano, motorcycle practice. Feb. 11, 1994 Nell Bonnett, Daytona 500 practice. Feb. 14, 1994 Rodney Orr, Daytona 500 practice. thing to do with it Gusty winds are kind of a tradition of Daytona's Speed Weeks and they dont affect these 3,500-pound cars all that much." Lake Speed, a journeyman driver who finished second in the 1985 Daytona 500, said the prevailing feelings at the track are sadness and confusion. "I Just cant think of anything that's really different this year, or why something like this would be happening," Speed said. "Probably the only thing I can think of is that there were an awful lot of entries this year, maybe more teams with good sponsorship. Some of those teams may be feeling more pressure. It might make some people take a little more risk." Speed, the sound of cars practicing at high speed echoing behind him, added, "You cant win the race if you're not running, so you dont ever want to wreck. But you've got to run as hard as you can, too. It's the old Catch 22 of this business. You've got to run on the ragged edge but try not to get over it" Added Kyle Petty: "It's not a safe sport; nobody ever said iWf was a saie spon. Sportsman's thoroughbred opener curtailed after horse dies in spill By Nell Milbert Tribune Staff Writer A Chicago winter tailor-made for ice fishing and cross-country skiing was interrupted Monday by a seemingly beautiful afternoon for the opening of the 1994 thoroughbred season at Sportsman's Park. But the beauty of the weather masked the perilous situation it created. The sunshine and temperature in the mid-40s thawed the racing surface, leavins it in a hazardous condition After a thoroughbred fatality-scarred fifth race, the program was canceled by the mutual agreement of track management and the jockeys. A three-horse collision sent two of the thoroughbreds tumbling to the track. A fourth horse, Llnho, was racing wide and running seventh In the field of eight at the time. Linho wasn't involved in the chain-reaction collision, but when the accident occurred, he veered, rammed into the outside fence and fell By the time the horse ambulance arrived on the scene, Linho was dead. The state veterinarian, Dr. Ronald Jensen, said an examination would be performed to determine the cause of death. It's uncertain whether Linho died because of injuries or because of a heart attack. The three other thoroughbreds and all four riders escaped Injury. Curt Bourque, Sportsman's defending Jockey champion, was riding Llnho. Offtoseethewlzard was the horse who started the chain reaction while racing third on the far turn. Jockey Walter Guerra was getting ready to put a move on the horses ahead of him when suddenly his mount went into a skid. "I had plenty of horse," Guerra said. "He slipped once, and then he slipped again." The skid sent Offtoseethewlzard into Getahunchbeta-bunch, aidden by apprentice Guy Smith, and Khafji, ridden by James Gilbert. Getahunchbetabunch and Khafji went down and the jockeys were thrown. Guerra managed to steady Offtoseethewlzard and keep him from falling. "The reason I pulled him up right away was to make certain he wasn't hurt," Guerra said. Mark Guidry won with 2.20-1 favorite Tidal Wave, who came from second to take the lead late on tht perilous turn. Conner Time made a mild rally to finish second after jockey Carlos Silva! steadied him between horses leaving the turn. "I was worried about the track from the first race on," SilvaJ said. "There was rolling ice there was water, and they put a lot of sand on it. You go Into the; turn and keep slipping, and; there's nothing you can do. "Sportsman's does a good Jobt of taking care of the track. But when the weather changes the way it.dld, what can yOu do?"

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