Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Never Heard of Wepner But Good Story Nevertheless

Revenge Delayed, But Sweet Indeed

To the Editor:

“A Real-Life Rocky, Still Stirring the Crowd” (March 11), your fine article about Chuck Wepner, reminded me of an incident that took place while I was growing up in Bayonne in the 1950s.

I played with a group of Jewish basketball players in the Catholic Youth Organization League. One evening, our team faced a ruffian group led by Mr. Wepner and the local football star, George Stridio. As I was coming to the basket for an easy left-handed layup, Chuck used his elbow to uppercut me under the chin.

Blood started gushing from my mouth and tongue. I missed the shot, and eventually our team lost the game. Afterward, Chuck’s team just laughed and made some derogatory comments about our effort.

Fast forward to about 10 years ago. My wife, Roz, and I were sitting in the lounge at La Guardia Airport waiting for a flight. A commotion behind us caught my attention. Behind me sat Muhammad Ali and his wife. I joined a long line of admirers waiting to get his autograph.

When I finally got to shake his hand, I related my Wepner basketball story. I also told him that I was glad he beat the pants off him in March 1975.

Mr. Ali must have felt some sympathy for my story. He got up, smiled and gave me a big hug.

With this gesture, I finally got some small measure of revenge.

Elliot J. Moritz
Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.

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