Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Emile Griffith and the Secret

("Emile Griffith, Boxer Who Unleashed a Fatal Barrage, Dies at 75")

In 1967 CBS ran a segment of "60 Minutes"  called "The Homosexuals". Mike Wallace summarized the plight of such a person: "told by the medical professional he's sick, by the law that he's a criminal; shunned by employers, rejected by heterosexual society. Incapable of a fulfilling relationship with a woman, or for that matter a man."

In a sport celebrated for its savagery, at a time more than a half century ago, when being gay was deemed unnatural, perverse and even criminal, the public allegation raised by Benny the Kid against the welterweight champion of the world was much worse than any punch to the gut.

Only one person could ever know whether those words contributed to the fury of the blows that night in March of 1962. Only one person will ever know whether those punches were intended to beat back a truth that society, and maybe even Emile Griffith, was far from ready to accept.

No comments: