The St Valentine’s Day Massacre: Robinson vs La Motta VI, Feb 14, 1951

There was a question asked in one of the quiz forums I am part on on facebook.

So I thought I will share an youtube video of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre, the last and bloodiest (but definitely not the best **) of all their 6-match rivalry.

Here too is a writeup from the internet.

Hardly a true rivalry — some of the fights were amazing (even in grainy black-and-white), but a 5-1 record says that it wasn’t really all it was touted up to be — Ali-Frazier this was not. La Motta (as you know from the movie et al) was all about bravery, and all respect to him. But Sugar Ray was truly one of the greatest of all time. Probably THE greatest of all time.

** That would be their fifth.

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Blossom 3/12 Leaving Bangalore

What better way to bid adieu to Bangalore than through a sudden, rushed book trip to Blossom?

And how better to do it than buying the ones you want for free?

Being multi-bookshelved has its disadvantages; multiple friends, acquaintances, roommates and even an ex-girlfriend had deigned my house a dumping ground for books they cannot carry with them to every new city and new country they relocate to….. What if I cannot carry them along with me to the new city I am relocating to? I am sure they would not need the books anymore- not now, after between three to seven years; not now that their need for those book have surely finished; and especially that I have never had need for those books in any way.

So off went books on Digital Signal Processing; on Graphic Designing and on Java; off went Freud, and Jung, and Foucault; Off went Martin Cruz Smith and Erich Segal; and Kafka and Kahlil Gibran and Eco and Barnes (let them go, rather a good philistine that a poor highbrow) …… and those glossy books on photography and movie-making and creative writing and fitness and even learning Spanish (that’s one I could have kept, but I really do have my own).

These were the carcasses of the whims and fancies of the early-to-mid-twenties of a lot of people who inhabited my life during my own whimsical and fanciful early-to-mid twenties.
They have moved on with their lives. And so indeed have I.

Blossom book stores, Church Street, Bangalore. I sold most, the others, which they refused to buy, were given off to be disposed.

And the following were bought, in order.

My Spin on Cricket – Richie Benaud
Playing the Moldovans at Tennis – Tony Hawks
(I did buy it at last, Suhas)
Open – Andre Agassi
What I love about Cricket – Sandy Balfour
Chinaman: The legend of Pradeep Mathew – Shehan Karunatilaka

and I still had a few hundred rupees left in gift vouchers, which were dutifully gifted to the wife.

Bangalore will not be missed so much as re-visited often. It IS my city, my home. Each book was signed ‘Blossom 3/12/11 Leaving Bangalore’. It didn’t break my heart writing it. It really didn’t.

Petered-out Talent? Narendra Hirwani.

I really did not want to put Hirwani here: he did play his part, you know… He wasn’t a Kumble for sure, and was unfortunate that his career coincided with that of Kumble, who of course is a modern-day (and all-time) great! In a way, his career was the tweet equivalent of Stuart McGill’s.
And let’s see, didn’t one of the highest wicket-takers of all time at the Ranjis, play his part? The foot-soldier has a place, or at least should have a place in cricket memory, if not in the pantheon. And well, there were a few certain memories. Mark Boucher (or maybe Dave Richardson) beaten and bowled off a frantic googly during Hirwani’s comeback in the mid-’90’s… the true-blue bunny batsmanship. Mile sur mera tumhara. And well, a personal memory – I saw him play at the Burnpur cricket stadium in Asansol (Central Zone vs West Zone, Irani trophy if I remember correctly), a long time ago… he was possibly the highest-profile player in the first first-class match I saw live. And of course, he’s a selector now.

We all know about his first test match. There was more.

Salaam Stanley Matthews – Review

As you know, I am in the process of reading the educated, researched and serious book on football in India that is ‘Goalless’ (It is good, but does take time.. the next in the pipeline is ‘The Ball is Round’ by David Goldblatt, another tome… but hey, I like research stuff). But in the meantime, due to the holiday on Monday (Labor Day in the US, godbless), I could take time off from Goalless, and finish off ‘Salaam Stanley Matthews’ by Subrata Dasgupta. Now this is not really a sports/ football book as such, but is a memoir of Dasgupta’s when he was in England (Nottingham, and then Derby) between ages 5 to 13. It does focus a lot of attention to life in England as an Indian immigrant, and yes, football, and the crown prince of English football at that time, Stanley Matthews, does have a significant part to play in the book.

I liked the book. There is little pretense, and Dasgupta’s writing is direct and honest. He writes it as he sees it, and does not over-dramatize. The travails of the Indian upper-class boy from snooty high-end Kolkata post-independence in egalitarian England, the whole growing-up saga, is expressed is reasonable detail, and flows smoothly as a nice, consistent read. While I am not from snooty high-end upper-class stock, and I was never affected by the peculiar situation that Dasgupta describes as …

I was, instead, quite unwittingly, the kind of person Thomas Macaulay in the 19th century had talked of when he wrote of persons “Indian in blood or color but English in taste”

… I do relate to the Bengali up-bringing well enough for Dasgupta’s memoirs to be relevant and interesting. And anyway, sport followers are all knit from the same fabric. The normal ways of hero-worshipping the sporting star, following the local club, the very personal joy of the triumph of the favorite club and the despair at a loss, they all ring true. There have been similar personal experiences as well.

 

And I would like you to savor a specific part of the book which in my opinion expresses the feeling of a ‘non-local’ fan better than most non-fan literature I have read. Dasgupta stays in Derby, and thus is, ‘by location of origin’, a Derby fan.  But he is a worshipper of Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortenson and the flair game of Blackpool as well. And this quandary is discussed in the following way.

.. I certainly came to a kind of rationalization along the following lines. Derby County was the town’s local team. It was like family- one is bound to it by blood ties. Whereas the ‘other team’, whichever it was, was like a best friend. There was no problem in loving a relative and a friend; they were two different kinds of love. As for a third team – like Graham’s Aberdeen – well, that is more a kind of fascination than love or passion, the fascination one has with a distant place or relative across the seas.

I agree. My blood ties are with Mohun Bagan, the only team that I have no choice but to support. I was born a Mohun Bagan supporter, for reasons locational and national.  I cannot support any other Indian team, least of all East Bengal. I have been following Arsenal for far too long for it to be considered anything other than a best friend. I know all the ins and outs of the club, and am fascinated by all aspects of it. And Barcelona is the club I am fascinated by… again, for more reasons than one. Ditto Napoli, but that’s for only one reason. Diego.

 

And indeed, this book gives me something to think of. Maybe the book I will write someday will be of the boy in some grey, dusty corner of Bengal in India, the proverbial sporting backwaters , playing sport with passion and fervor, and becoming a convert to the exquisite, gorgeous sporting skills and personal tribulations of Diego Maradona, of Boris Becker and of Mohammed Azharuddin. And becoming a convert to sport.