Professional boxing was in a ferment yesterday, replete with racial epithets in what was called a low blow to heavyweight champion Leon Spinks that was followed by a counterattack of slightly more polite but stinging language.
The furor promises to take the sport before Congress and into a federal court.
Promoter Don King was quoted by United Press International from Puerto Rico as calling rival Bob Arum "a whit slave master" who was takding advantage of Spinks; King called Spinks "a totally illiterate black man."
Arum defended Spinks as beisng able to read very well and said, "Everyone know what King is-a total charlatan."
Rep. Lionel Van Deerlin (D. Calif.), chairman of the House Subcommittee oDeerlin (D. Calif.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications has asked CBS to provide contracts and related documents on the network's relationship with Arum's Top Rank firm and with Spinks.
Attorneys for Spins sought a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to prohibit the World Boxing Council from recognizing No.1 contender Ken Norton as its champion rather than Spinks, who decisioned former title-holder Muhhammed Ali there on Feb. 15.
King said he was goint to Los Angeles where Jose Sulaiman of Mexico City, WBC president, WBC president, will present Norton the championship belt.
Chuck Davey, president of the United States Boxing Association and vice president of the World Boxing Assocation, said in Troy, Mich., that the WBC action is "a transparent attempt by the WBC hierarchy to hand over the most lucrative sports title on earth to a favored promoter (King)."
The WBA has approved a Spinks-Ali rematch for the championship.
Arum said in New York City that he expects to complete arrangements for such a bout by Friday, with each boxer to receive $5 million. He predicted it will be the highest-rated event ever on television.
Sulaiman was reported by Reuter news service from Mexico City as saying its decision to strip Spinks of his title for not agreeing to fight Norton first would cost the Council $134,000 in fees from a Spinks-Ali rematch, but it preferred prestige to money and would honor Norton in a televised ceremony in Lost Angeles.
King was cited as saying that Spinks' alleged illiteracy "is an indictment against the school system in the black ghettoes of the big cities of the United States. The teachers that passed Leon Spinks to the 11th grade should be tied to a post and flogged."
King said Spinks was stripped of his title byd the WBC because of Arum's "deviousness!" He said the muddled championship situation should be blamed on Arum, whom he called "one of the most devious and evil individuals I have ever met; who builds a success road on deviousness,"
King added that Arum has a "slave master's mentality of thinking he can treat people of color to do whatever is right for him;" that Arum is treating Spinks "just like in the slave days when the house nigger could do anything against another nigger and get away with it. Here's a white man leading a black man into the paths of destruction."
Asked by The Washing ton Post to comment on the report of King's remarks, Arum said, "It's beneath my dignity. Everybody knows what King is-a total charlatan. I'm a real 'slave master.' In his ninth pro fight, Spinks is going to earn $5 million. I'm really treating him badly.
"Color is totally irrelevant. Ali (who used to fight for King and is expected to fight for Arum against Spinks) isn't white; his manager isn't white; Spinks isn't white( his lawyer isn't white.
"It was very unfair for King to say Spinks is illiterate. He is not illiterate. The Kid can read very well. I have seen him read documents and newspapers. that is nonsense. He was in the Marine Corps. you can't get in the Marines if you are illiterate.
"King shows he is hurting from losing the services of Ali and, hence, the championship bout; Arum has an option on Spinks' services and so does CBS). The man (in a rhetorical sense) comes out in times of stress. that was a very intemperate kind of statement.% Arum said Spinks and Ali have agreed to terms for a rematch, to be held in September, in Africa or the United States. the promoter said that CBS can bid on the television rights, but if it declines to meet the cost, the other networks-NBC and ABC-will be invited to submit bids.
Arum said the bout will be worth $10 million for the combined fighters' purses because it will represent the end of an era.
"Ali is the one prominent figure still on the scene," Arum said.
"Ali passes from the scene in September, win or lose (meaning he will retire)."
Frank M. Smith Jr., named acting president of CBS Sports Monday, said yesterday the network has sent material requested by Van Deerlin involving the relationship between CBS and Spinks and Arum's Top Rank, Inc., promotional firm.
Smith said CBS has not yet been offered the rights to bid on a telecast of an Ali-Spinks bout but will be interested in it if such rights are offered. He said that as far as he Knew, without checking, CBS has an option on Spinks' next three bouts.