Friday, October 15, 2004

Boxing Match

Willie’s best friend was an avid boxing fan. At the last moment his pal had managed to obtain two tickets for a fistfight, and he was invited to come along. Not really a great sporting enthusiast himself, he didn’t have any particular desire to go. But it was a title bout and the promise of ringside seats sounded too good to forgo.

Only when they got ready to enter the big tent did the picture become clear. His friend had obtained two press passes, and they were working for some obscure newspaper outfit! Being a person with an easy disposition, this did not bother him unduly and he decided to play along. At worst they could be asked to leave, but so what!

Finally, the main bout was about to start. All of a sudden there was a tension in the air, and the whole place became pregnant with anticipation. A short while ago, they had the press table almost exclusively for themselves, but now they had to move up. People appeared from the thin air and all had to squeeze in.

A reporter sat down next to him, and she introduced herself as representing one of the big Sunday papers. She quickly explained that her paper’s boxing correspondent had fallen ill, and that she was the stand-in. As she did not normally do boxing, would he be so kind as to provide her with some background information, please?

There was no way out - he had to either tell or fabricate the truth. He chose the latter. After all, if she did not know the difference, how could she possibly judge the validity of his statements?

For the next hour and a half, between blows, he filled in the blanks. He knew the boxers personally, down to the fine details of their personal lives. Being blessed with a good sense of humor he managed to construct a scene so colorful that Nixon himself would have blushed.

She slurped it all up. Expecting to be exposed at any moment, he found it amazing that she was feverishly writing it all down in shorthand, and at the end of the evening she thanked him profusely for his help.

On the road home they had a good laugh. He felt a little guilty about what he had done. She was about to find out from her editor that she had been fed a bunch of drivel, and that she had wasted her whole evening.

The next morning, he had an early wake-up call from his boxing friend. He was instructed to get a copy of the Sunday paper. There, in a prominent place on the sport page was his whole fabrication, verbatim!

Shocked at the enormity of what had transpired, they tried to anticipate how the story could be traced back to them, but there was no attempt to do so.

The following weekend the paper published a retraction and a small apology. They never did find out if she got in trouble for the mishap. She kept on writing for the same newspaper, so they could only assume that she was OK.

However, she never covered boxing again.
Jan Tik
Source: Willie Jordaan

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