SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff
May 21, 1990
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May 21, 1990


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SI's Pat Putnam reflects on the return to the ring of 34-year-old former junior welterweight champion Aaron Pryor, who is scheduled to face club fighter Daryl Jones in Madison, Wis., this week.

For $300 you can become a boxing promoter in Wisconsin. All you have to do is set yourself up as a boxing club and mail a check to the state Department of Regulation and Licensing. Don't ask about state boxing regulations, because there are scarcely any. Wisconsin disbanded its boxing commission in 1980.

In Wisconsin a promoter doesn't even have to know how many healthy eyes a fighter should have. That's evident from the comments of Diana Lewis, promoter of the Pryor-Jones bout. Lewis told Wallace Matthews of Newsday last week that "if [ Pryor is] blind in one eye, he's still got another eye. Even if he had only one eye, why couldn't he fight?"

In effect, Pryor already has only one eye. He underwent surgery on the left one for a detached retina and a cataract last year, and in the words of David Smith, consulting ophthalmologist to the New Jersey boxing commission, who examined Pryor in February, "He can't even see the big E [on an eye chart] without corrective lenses." Because of his poor vision and concerns about his general health—Pryor has battled drug addiction on and off for several years—boxing commissions in Nevada, New York and California have refused to grant Pryor a license.

To prove his fitness to fight, Pryor gave Wisconsin licensing officials the results of recent physical and eye examinations of him conducted by doctors of his choosing. Based on that information, the officials decided that his health was adequate and his vision only moderately impaired. The officials say that Pryor had the risks of returning to the ring with poor eyesight explained to him at length. Not surprisingly, Pryor—who just got out of a drug-rehabilitation center and needs money—said he still wanted to fight.

Alluding to Pryor's impaired vision, Marlene Cummings, secretary of the state's licensing department, said, "Handicapped people should not be penalized for their handicaps. They should be allowed to do the same things non-handicapped people can do." Someone should point out to her that a boxer's being blind in one eye isn't the same as, say, an architect's being blind in one eye—unless the architect's T square jumps up and smacks him in the head from his blind side over and over until he falls down.

Someone should check Wisconsin's licensing officials for myopia.

The starting pitchers in a 1:35 p.m. game between the Montreal Expos and the Los Angeles Dodgers last Thursday were Dennis Martinez for the Expos and Ramon Martinez for the Dodgers. In his pregame notes to the media, Montreal media-relations director Richard Griffin described the matchup as "the revival of the two-Martinez business luncheon."


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