The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on January 18, 1986 · 45
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · 45

Atlanta, Georgia
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 18, 1986
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F r" " . . "' - - Jmj'l. J K. 'JFf. BF ti 111 i i. i 4 I pi um i LIB""!?" .' I ; CLifiAINlKi; Ur CULLMjE Sruiils: Headers respond to special report u rage z-u 1 GTIje Atlanta Sournal THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION Saturday, Jan. 18, 1986 Page 1-D 'A.iuJi -" " 1 - 111 T , j -t w i - 'Happy birthday9 Ali rings in sad carnival They sang to him, and Muhammad Mi's heavy face moved into a smile. "Happy birthday, dear Muhammad, happy birthday to you." The great one, 44 years old this day, stood near the ring ropes, a hand on the top rope, and he raised his left hand, open and soft, to let the singers know he heard, love where once he heard the warrior's fhant, always urgent: "Ali . . . Ali . . . Ali." , - The frightfully ubiquitous Mr. Don King, he of the electrified couiffure, then brought Ali to him in an embrace that was warmed, no doubt, by memories of how much money the fight promoter Mr. King has earned with and for Ali, a man without whom Mr. King's eminence might be limited to his old haunts, running numbers in Cleveland. "Atlanta, a beautiful city," Mr. King intoned with sincerity practiced at America's carnival stops. Atlanta's mayor, Andrew Young, stood next to Mr. King. "Let me welcome Don King to Atlanta," said the mayor, "and let's give him a big hand for bringing big-time boxing back to Atlanta." . -, Er, mayor, we'll be the judge of that. , ' Whatever Tim Witherspoon and Tony Tubbs" brought, it was big-time boxing only in that their work is sadly typical of heavyweight fare these days. Here was Tubbs, a champion, and he fought with the ferocity of a man fluffing up pillows at nappie time. "He. didn't fight like a champion,". Wither-. spoon .said later. , "I had to chase him down.". . , "ii7- : . -;s Chasing down Tubbs of blubber Chasing, Witherspoon failed early to follow up heavy punches and later , never could achieve his modest ambition, which was, he ; said with a smile, "to rock his soul." He gave Tubbs credit for escape. "Tony's slicks, - - : ,..By the fifth round, Witherspoon looked the champion, moving after Tubbs until pinning him to the ropes, there to belabored, the blubber crinkled at Tubbs' ribs, home to much of the meaty one's 244 pounds. ; -If anybody thought my weight slowed trie down," Tubbs said later, "I'd like to hear it now instead of reading it in the pa-per.- - ' Silence ensued, for truly Tubbs moved well enough to win, but he was in with a puncher nearly his match at the slickery of defense. Tubbs was not beaten by excess flesh," nor by an unwillingness to fight. He gave to the job all he brought; it wasn't enough by the skinny margin of a round. - "There ain't no excuses in the game of boxing," Tubbs said properly. :. Tubbs was the hunted, Witherspoon the hunter, the survivor seemingly obvious as early as the fifth round when the men fired straight rights simultaneously. Both landed. Witherspoon kept coming. Tubbs jerked to a stop. : '. . By the 10th, Witherspoon's lead seemed so decisive that Tubbs' only hope was a knockout "My corner told me to press it a little., more," Tubbs said. He pressed the figh( so close on the judges' cards that Witherspoon won only by winning the 15th round. - , ' ' 1 ySm mmMi m 1 . iv V ,. I - t MP a - - "Aft mm - Jt - i ,-J .,;..,,,.-.:.: .jtfufofc. I Tim Witherspoon confirms his majority-decision victory over Tony Tubbs Friday night at The Omni. RICH ADDICKSStaH By Ed Hinton Utaff Writer Tim Witherspoon missed on his prediction of a knockout by the 10th t round and after 15 was glad to come out with what he had Friday ; night: a surprisingly narrow major-'..-ity decision over Tony Tubbs at The' " Omni for the World Boxing Association heavyweight championship. The loss of the title also marked the first defeat of Tubbs' professional boxing career. He'd come into his first title defense 22-0. Witherspoon (24-2) appeared on his way to fulfilling his prediction : when he hurt Tubbs in the eighth round with a straight left after bad-, gering the champion with combinations to the body and head, v I , But in the ninth and 10th With-; erspoon failed to follow up. on the ' damage, and Tubbs even mounted a minor comeback. However, most observers in the, crowd estimated at 6,500 felt With-; ; erspoon had clearly won the fight; when the final bell rang, and a hush, fell over the arena as the announce-; ment of the close decision unfolded ; One judge had it 144-143, another .' I 143-143 and the third 144-141. 1 Did the closeness of the call sur-' . prise Witherspoon? "Yeah, because he1 really didn't ! fight like a champion tonight," : Witherspoon said. "He didn't do nothin'. He threw a lot of jabs, but I had to chase him down at certain . points, and at times I had to lunge' at him." : , a Tubbs went into the fight at 244 ' pounds, 16 pounds heavier than when he won the title from Greg Page last April. But, "he was in better shape , than I thought," said Witherspoon, who went into the fight at 227. Why couldn't Witherspoon finish the job in the ninth and 10th? . ( "Because he's experienced. Tony Tubbs is not a pushover. He's slick. . like everybody says he is," said Witherspoon. Witherspoon, a former World Boxing Council champion who lost ; that title to Pinklon Thomas in 1984, said this title means "a whole lot." See FIGHT, Page 4-D ByJeffDenberg Staff Writer , This is the fun of it. A big game. An erratic, but wildly entertaining young team on the rise against the Boston Celtics. The earliest sellout. The biggest crowd. This is the best the NBA has to offer. This is what Atlanta Hawks basketball has missed for too long. " . '' "We're not just fighting for the playoffs or fighting to win a game," Doc Rivers said Friday. "We're fighting for people from Atlanta to come out and watch us play." The people, 16,522 of them, will be watching at The Omni. The game has been made available live to hundreds of thousands more by a decision to add it to the team's WVEU (Channel 69) TV package. "Oh, we'll be fired up," Dominique Wil-kins said Friday. "This is an enormous game . . . To tell the truth, I'm ready to do it right now." The Hawks, who are gunning for their first winning season in three years, are 21-16 and off to their best start in six seasons. , In their last eight games they lost only to the Celtics, 115-108, last Friday night in Boston. These seven victories have come by margins of 10 to 20 points. They also have won 13 of 18 since Rivers recovered from a cracked wrist. They are 16-4 at home. The Celtics had also won seven of eight and were 28-8 heading into Friday night's game at Indiana. They have not lost to the Hawks in four games this season. They have won nine straight at The. Omni. Many in the arena will be cheering for them. "But if we get Boston and then we get "r Milwaukee Monday night anything can happen," Eddie Johnson said. "And I can feel it We're due." w But Hawks coach Mike Fratello obvi ously is concerned. "Boston is a great team and we're 0-4 against them this year. That's , the bottom line. What else is there to say?" -Nothing much to say, but much to do, so the Hawks have enlisted the assistance of one Dancing Barry, a magician by trade. , Barry stood in the Forum during a Lakers game one spring evening in 1983 and danced his way into the hearts of the fans. ' No one, be he dancer, astronaut, coach or player can match Dancing Barry's record against the Celtics, says (who else?); ; See CELTICS, Page 5-D ': This is 1986, Mr. Mayor, not 1970 ' No, Mr. Mayor. This is January 1986, not October 1970. Then the great one Muhammad Ali went back to his chosen work after three years in an exile created by petty politicians. Because no other place would have him, Ali made his return in the forgiving embrace of Atlanta, the city too busy to hate but not too busy to load a gun. Ali says that during roadwork one day, a trainer shouted, "Get down, Champ, them's gunshots."., . ',- Legend becomes fact, myth becomes un- . certain memory. Who knows if anything like that happened? It doesn't matter now. Ali cut up Jerry Quarry in 1970 when Atlanta gave him back to us, and the City Auditorium was alive, a swirl of emotion, a kaleidoscope of color, a memory evergreen. And on this night 15 years later, at 8:31, people stood and turned toward steps coming down to the arena floor. Word moved quickly. There was Ali. He wore a tuxedo, black with a black bow tie. And then there . came a chant, "Ali . . . AIL" Not the call to battle of old; rather a show of respect, much as Britons long after the big war raised the "V" sign to Churchill. ,A smile touched Ali. Years fell away. Hi! eyes were an imp's again, and you hoped for a poem, a piece of mischief. At ringside, Ali reached down to shake hands with Larry Holmes, once his sparring partner -and later the heavyweight champion who wrote a sad finis to Ali's youth. Holmes did not rise from his seat at his old benefactor's passing. ,.But at every step from the top of The Omni to the arena floor, supplicants reached out to Ali, hoping to touch his sleeve, glad to be near him, and then Ali took a seat at ringside, there with his daughter, now 20, now as pretty as the great one once was. ' t Braves decide Noc-A-Homa won't be back By Susan Howard Staff Writer The Atlanta Braves are in the market for a new mascot. According to an announcement made Friday, the Braves ' and Levi Walker alias Chief Noc-A-Homa have parted ways for good. : "It was by mutual agreement," said Wayne Minshew, the Braves' public relations and promotions director. "We called him up Thursday afternoon and told him to meet with us (Minshew and Braves vice president Charles Sanders) at 10:30 a.m. Friday. We were conducting our reviews for all departments and he was reviewed along with everyone else." Apparently the review was not a positive one, although Minshew refused to give details of the meeting. However, Minshew noted that Walker's failure to make about seven scheduled appearances during the past year influenced the decision to find a new mascot. Minshew added that this is the not the first time the Braves have expressed dissatisfaction with Walker. Last August, Minshew sent Walker a memo stating that his position was in jeopardy because Walker was a no-show for three scheduled appearances. Walker, who has an unpublished number, could not be reached for com- ,7; 1 -1 Levi Walker ment. But according to Pat Jordan, a spokeswoman for Walker, he was quoted as saying that, "for 17 years I made a lot of kids happy, but if I made some people unhappy in 17 years it was unintentional. I was also dissatisfied with the Atlanta Braves that's where the mutual agreement comes in." Walker had complained about his salary while performing as the Braves' mascot, Minshew said. "We had received a statement from his lawyer sometime during the off-season last year," Minshew said. "He was not satisfied with his pay. I don't know what it was at that time but it was raised to $60 per game after that." Minshew estimated that Wal-ker received at least $4,860 last year for about 80 appearances. Walker was the third person to play the role of Chief Noc-A-Homa since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966. No. 1 Tar Heels in 4newdebuf vs. Blue Devils By Bud Shaw "Staff Writer CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Something is missing here, and it's not just that Duke vs. North Carolina won't be played in ... the old auditorium across from the graveyard. The banners inside Carmichael Auditorium, a burial ground for the rest of the ACC over the past 20 years, have been moved to the 21,000-seat Student Athletic Center. Another era of Tar Heel basketball begins there Saturday when No. 1 North Carolina (17-0) christens the place against No. 3 Duke (16-0). With the new arena as a backdrop and the polls bowing in respect to these two traditional ACC rivals, ihe people of North Carolina are expecting a game for the ages. Begging for one, actually. The problem is that Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski are trying to treat Saturday as nothing more than ACC basketball in January. What's missing isn't the fire of the rivalry, just the rhetoric to fuel it. Smith: "I'll get up Sunday morning feeling alright if we don't win on Saturday. It won't be the worst thing that could happen. You know, Khadafy doesn't care who wins this game." Not to be outdone, Krzyzewski said 'that the Big Apple NIT championship 1 llilf' I Dean Smith win over Kansas in late November was bigger than anything that might happen to the Blue Devils in Chapel Hill this weekend. "I just hope they will name the new arena for Dean," Krzyzewski says. "In the history of basketball he's one of the most outstanding men in the game. I also hope they name some of the urinals and bathrooms after some of those who 18 years ago hung him in effigy." This is Duke vs. North Carolina? "It's early," Smith said Friday. "It's very early." Neither Duke nor Carolina has yet to deal with Georgia Tech, the only other team still undefeated in the ACC. The conference tournament isn't for another seven weeks, and there's little reason to suspect that Saturday will have any See CAROLINA, Page 7-D - - i

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