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Griffith-Duran Bout Ruled “No Contest”

Mar. 11, 1964 - A nontitle bout between the world welterweight champion, Emile Griffith of the United States, and Juan Carlos Duran of Argentina was halted in the seventh round tonight in Rome, Italy, when a disappointed crowd, screaming for action, hurled bottles and oranges into the ring. Policemen swarmed into the ring as the seventh round of the scheduled 10-rounder began.

The crowd of 12,000 at the Rome Sports Palace had been yelling for more aggressiveness throughout the match. The referee had urged both fighters to stop stalking and start fighting in the fourth and seventh rounds. He also issued separate warnings to each for the same reason.

The police blocked off the ring — littered with debris that included bottles, tomatoes, several shoes, and at least one pocket knife — and escorted the boxers to their dressing rooms. The fight was ruled “no contest.”

Griffith, of New York, weighted 154½ pounds. Duran, the 10th-ranked contender in the junior middleweight division, weighed 154¾.

There was no immediate word whether the Italian Boxing Federation would hold up the purses, but it was considered unlikely because the decision to stop the fight was based on the crowd’s conduct rather than on the lack of a contest.

Gil Clancy, Griffith’s co-manager, said Duran had been afraid to fight because of stories published in the Rome papers about how Griffith knocked out the late Benny (Kid) Paret, who died of ring injuries.

“This referee kept warning Griffith against fighting with his head down and butting,” Clancy added, “but he apparently didn’t realize Emile was about six inches shorter than Duran. The referee couldn’t talk English, so he kept slapping Emile on the forehead to get his attention. Emile didn’t know whether to fight the referee or Duran. That ref must have smacked Emile 30 times.”

Said Griffith: “I’ll never fight again in Italy. That referee nearly got me and Duran and others killed when they started throwing things. And my forehead still smarts from being slapped by that man who couldn’t talk English.”






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