Friday, August 12, 2011

Margery Miller Welles- Nomination Letter to/from IBHOF

 

A founding author of Sports Illustrated, my grandma has been 
nominated to join the International Boxing Hall of Fame. 

Margery Miller Welles -my grandma- witnessed one of the 
most important sporting events in American history in 1938 at age 15 when 
her father took her to Yankee Stadium to watch Joe Louis fight Max Schmeling. 
For her Wellesley College thesis she wrote a bio of Joe titled, 
"Joe Louis: American" which was published before she graduated in 1945 and 
reviewed by Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer and Eleanor Roosevelt. 



          I received in the mail today a letter from the International Boxing Hall of Fame which stated that Margery Miller Welles has been officially nominated to a list of potential inductees. A selection committee will review my letter and will announce their decision in December 2011.

********************************************

Below is the letter I wrote:


Selection Committee
International Boxing Hall of Fame
1 Hall of Fame Drive
Canastota, NY 13032

Dear Committee,

I am writing to urge you to include my grandmother, Margery Miller Welles, into the 2012 class
of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Margery Miller Welles saw her first prize fight at the age of 15 when her father took her to see
Joe Louis defeat Max Schmeling in 1938. Although she was a woman, Joe Louis would later instruct the arenas in which he fought specifically to allow my grandma into the locker room along with the rest of the journalists.

Her senior honors thesis was published before she graduated from Wellesley in 1945 at the age of
22. This publication was a biography of Joe Louis entitled Joe Louis: American. To put this subject
matter in perspective, when I wrote my honors thesis on Russian politics, I benefitted greatly from my advisor’s expertise in the field. None of the Wellesley professors knew anything about boxing. My grandma learned by going to the training camps and meeting the boxers.

Two public figures wrote blurbs on the cover of Margery Miller Welles’ book. These two were
the first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Editor of Ring Magazine, Nat Fleisher, to whom my grandma dedicated her book. 20 years before the Civil Rights movement, my grandma’s
account of the life of an African American boxer intrigued Mrs. Roosevelt to the extent that she stayed up half the night reading it. Nat Fleisher, an IBHOF inductee, said that the book would occupy a prominent place in his library. These two people come from very different parts of society and yet they were both able to appreciate the greatness of Joe Louis with the help of my grandma.

Margery Miller Welles was one of the founding authors of Sports Illustrated and she served as its
boxing editor. She edited the Encyclopedia Britannica article on boxing. She also wrote a regular piece for the Christian Science Monitor.

My grandma would be the second woman inductee.

I implore you. When you consider whether or not to induct my grandma into the IBHOF, perhaps
you could ask yourselves, “What would Joe Louis think?”

Humbly and Warmly,

Donna Welles

Included:

 Photos of the cover of my grandma’s book including a picture of her.
 A copy of the newspaper article a reporter wrote a few years ago about her when he found her
book.

Margery Miller Welles quotes Joe Louis, "We're on God's side."


A founding author of Sports Illustrated, my grandma has been 
nominated to join the International Boxing Hall of Fame. 

Margery Miller Welles -my grandma- witnessed one of the 
most important sporting events in American history in 1938 at age 15 when 
her father took her to Yankee Stadium to watch Joe Louis fight Max Schmeling. 
For her Wellesley College thesis she wrote a bio of Joe titled, 
"Joe Louis: American" which was published before she graduated in 1945 and 
reviewed by Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer and Eleanor Roosevelt. 


An excerpt from her book (1945):
-
Celebrities from the political, stage, screen, and radio worlds gathered in Madison Square Garden one March night in 1942 to participate in a show for the benefit of the Navy Relief Society. They had in common the facility of speech necessary to their professions and a sincere desire to help their country win her great struggle against aggressor nations.
            In the course of the evening, one after another of them was called upon to speak. The big crowd was appreciative of the things they said, for the speeches, ranging from the serious to the comic, were all good. They were, for the most part, concerned with the war, and what it meant to be an American. Joe Louis, world’s heavyweight champion, sat in the crowd that night and applauded with the rest. Although he boasted little education and his grammar was not of the best, he had been warned that he might be asked to speak. His secretary had inquired, “You want me to write out something for you, Joe?” But Joe answered, “No. If I get up there, I guess I’ll just naturally say what I feel.”
            When the announcer said, “I present to you Joe Louis, world’s heavyweight boxing champion,” Joe made his way to the speakers platform. As he stood in front of the microphone, dressed in the uniform of a United States soldier, a hush fell over the audience. Joe raised his eyes and, looking directly at the great silent crowd in front of him, said, “We all got to do our part, and then we’ll win. ‘Cause we’re on God’s side.
            A newspaper reporter from one of New York’s dailies turned to a colleague in the press row. “Has anybody ever put it like that before?” he asked. “Not that I know of. They say, ‘God’s on our side, but that’s different.”
            The speeches of the other celebrities that evening have been forgotten. But Joe Louis’ two sentences sill live in a poem written about them by Carl Byoir and in the hearts of many who heard the champion speak them.
MMW's Wellesley College Thesis (1945)

Back Cover of Joe Louis: American
Letter from IBHOF

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Russia's Oldest Literary Work- The Song of Igor's Campaign

 
            The oldest Russian literary work was written around 1200 AD it is called The Song of Igor’s Campaign. The identity of the author is unknown but it can be surmised that he comes from an aristocratic background given the quality of the education one would need to write such a piece. Some think the author a knight because of the military aspects of the story but my guess is that it was a priest as the work is written as a sermon might be.
            The birth of Russia happened in the 10th C AD but up to and including this point in history, it was more of a collection of city states than a unified nation. Igor was a prince of one of these city states who was upset at the fact that his army did not arrive in time to participate in a historic battle. In order to compensate for this perceived failure, he decided on his own to provoke another battle with the enemy. Igor’s army lost that battle horribly.
            The message the author was trying to convey is the value of unity within a nation. It was Igor’s pride that led to the death of his men, not the love of his country. There are some clear religious undertones in the work which encourage Russians to defend their nation against non believers. The author implores Russia to unite in this common cause but this cry goes unanswered. It wasn’t too long before the Mongols invaded and raped Russia for 250 years.
The Mongol invasion happened a very long time ago but its implications are still found in Russian culture today. Russia missed out on the Renaissance because of it. It’s hard to quantify the effect that had on the Russia. When the rest of the Western world was experiencing an unprecedented rebirth of art and freedom of thought, Russia was filled with a darkness that would not be seen again until Hitler’s armies occupied Paris. Imagine if the Nazi’s occupied Paris for 250 years what affect that would have had on the French psyche.
Ivan III is called Ivan the Great because he was the first Russian to deny the Mongols their tribute. Ivan III was the prince of Moscow and that’s why Moscow became Russia’s capital until Peter the Great moved it to St. Petersburg in 1703.
The concept that a nation is strongest when its people are united in a common goal is a universal and timeless one.