Sportscaster Howard Cosell of the ABC television network told Congress yesterday he favors a federal boxing control board to "eliminate the chaos of the sport."
In the third and last day of hearings on a bill to establish such a governing body, proposed by Rep. Edward P. Beard (D.R.I.), chairman of the House subcommittee on labor standards, Jersey Joe Walcott, New Jersey athletic commissioner and former heavyweight champion, vehemently opposed the measure.
Four other once-prominent boxers, Willie Pep, Tony Zale, Carmen Basilio and Chuck Davey, testified for the legislation.
In contrast to Walcott's assertion that state commissions could bring order to a sport most recently embarrassed by a jurisddictional dispute that resulted in the Mike Rossman-Victor Galindez bout being postponed. Cosell said, "The state commissions are fragmented, political affairs."
The sportscaster said his position was "based on the premise that boxing remains popular enough to warrant being maintained. The TV ratings show that.
"Boxing is alive because of a transcendental figure-Muhammad Ali-and the 21st Olympaid (1976 in Montreal) when 11 (United States boxers) in one room never dreamed they would achieve international identity . . ."
Cosell said Beard's bill "would establish the clout to deal with the desire of international boxing organizations to dominate the sport" around the world.
Walcott wondered why Congress "was picking on boxing only" with Beard's proposal. The former champion professed his "love" for the sport and volunteered, "I have never heard of any corruption . . . I was never approached to take a dive, or anything like that."
When Chairman Beard interjected, "I love the sport, too," Walcott retorted, "You love it-sitting behind a desk."
Beard remarked, "I did a little boxing" and Walcott interposed, "That's the trouble-you did a 'little' boxing."
Beard cited the current situation resulting in two heaveyweight champions, ali (WBA) and Larry Holmes (WBC), and alluded to the Rossman-galindez controversy.
"That's one or two cases; you're like a drowning man grabbing at a straw," Walcott said.
"If you had 10 federal commissions you couldn't make a smart manager have his boxer fight somebody he didn't want him to fight; if he could fight four other guys."