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Pia Zadora threw a hot dog in the ring at the Holmes-Spinks fight at the Riviera Hotel

Aug. 28, 2012

By Royce Feour
Rank (or status) hath its privileges. Was that what Pia Zadora was thinking? Or was she even thinking. Probably just reacting.
I saw a lot of bizarre and unusual incidents in 42 years of covering professional boxing in Las Vegas. Most of them involved the fighters, of course. Even in the infamous “Fan Man” fiasco at the Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe heavyweight championship fight at Caesars Palace, the fighters were directly affected by a long delay. The “Fan Man” became famous for his act although he suffered a beating by the folks in Bowe’s corner.
Zadora was a very small but an interesting sidelight of the story at the first Larry Holmes-Michael Spinks heavyweight championship fight in the parking lot behind the Riviera Hotel on Sept. 21, 1985.
Zadora was a popular singer but more to the point for the incident, the reason for this column was that she was married to Riviera Hotel owner Meshulam Riklis.
Even in 1985 I had covered countless important championship fights and there was never a controversial incident involving the host hotel owner’s wife. To even think there would be one would be unfathomable.
But something did happen involving Zadora. She was sitting in the first row on the East side of the ring. I was sitting to her right in the first row of the press section.
At or near the bell for the end of a round, I saw Zadora throw something in the ring. Duane Ford, chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission at the time, said it was a hot dog.
In discussing the incident recently, Ford said, “The referee did something and the crowd reacted.”
Ford said the referee had warned one of the fighters. It may have been for hitting after the bell or a low blow. Whatever it was upset Zadora.
Ford went over to Zadora and I could see he was scolding her.
Ford said he told Zadora, who was standing up and yelling, ‘You can’t throw things in the ring. You do it again and we’ll have security take you out. She was embarrassed at first. (Then) she laughed,” Ford said.
I remember thinking to myself at the time, “She is married to the owner of the hotel. What are they going to do to her?”
I just can’t believe a hotel security guard is going to eject the owner’s wife. No way.
If someone from the crowd had run up to ringside and tossed a hot dog in the ring in a similar fashion, I have to think they would have been removed from the temporary stadium by hotel security at once. The Nevada commission wouldn’t even have been consulted. There would have been no warnings.
That is why “Rank (status) hath its privileges.” And being the hotel owner’s wife is a heck of a status when his hotel is the host for the fight.
Zadora and Riklis had been married eight years earlier when she was 23 and he was 54. They were divorced in 1993.
The fight itself was so good and historic that Zadora’s incident received almost no attention in the press. I don’t think many writers even noticed it.
Spinks took a 15-round unanimous decision to become the first light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight (IBF) championship. That was one huge historic angle.
The other was that Holmes had been undefeated coming into the fight with a record of 48-0. Holmes was trying to equal Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0, but he fell short. That was also huge.
The third reason there was virtually no coverage of Zadora’s incident was that Holmes was a story in itself at the post-fight press conference.
I had covered all of Holmes’ championship fights in Las Vegas and I had never saw him so bitter and antagonistic as he was at the press conference. He blasted the judges for the decision. (Two judges had Spinks winning by three points and one judge had Spinks winning by one point.) Holmes said the judges could kiss him where the sun doesn’t shine.
Holmes was also disrespectful, to say the least, of Marciano, who was a treasured fan favorite of the general public.
Holmes said, “(Marciano) couldn’t carry my jockstrap.”
Given all of that, it is little wonder that virtually no writer wrote about the Pia Zadora incident. But I don’t forget owner’s wives throwing things in the ring.
I was reminded of the Zadora incident when she appeared at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in late July.
I have heard unofficially that she may return for more appearances at the Smith Center. I certainly hope no one throws anything on the stage when she is performing.
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Bishop Gorman proved it could play with De La Salle

The Bishop Gorman High School football team proved it could play with De La Salle before taking a 28-14 loss on Saturday night in Concord, Calif.
The Gaels led 14-7 at halftime in the game televised by the CBS College Sports network.
The matchup between the nation’s No. 9 team De La Salle (USA Today rankings) and No. 18 Gorman attracted a standing-room-only crowd estimated at about 4,000.
It was a big-time high school football atmosphere. No question about it.
The host Spartans provided a shocking beginning to the game by when Antoine Pickett returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.
De La Salle led 7-0 before either team ran a play from scrimmage.
Coach Tony Sanchez’s Gaels tied the game when junior halfback Shaquille Powell
scored on a 2-yard run and Colin Ditsworth added the extra point with 1:03 left in the first quarter.
The drive went 82 yards after a De La Salle punt. The big play was a 73-yard pass play from quarterback Anu Solomon to Evan Zeger down to the 8-yard-line.
Gorman took a 14-7 lead when Powell ran for a 17-yard touchdown with 10:27 left in the second quarter.
Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Smith made a great catch of a Solomon pass for a 35-yard gain to the Spartan 17-yard-line for the big play of the drive.
The Spartans tied the game midway through the third quarter after recovering a fumble at the Gael 19-yard-line and scoring on the next play.
The turning point of the game came with the score still tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter.
Powell scored an apparent go-ahead touchdown for Gorman on a spectacular 25-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
But the touchdown was nullified because officials called a questionable illegal motion penalty on the Gaels.
That call was crucial, to say the least. It was a huge momentum changer. Gorman went from having a significant momentum surge to having the air let out of them with the controversial call.
To make matters worse, before the Gaels could run another play, they were called for a delay-of-game penalty, putting the ball back to the 35-yard line and even further out of field-goal range.
The 52-yard field goal distance was too long and Ditsworth’s attempt fell short although he is an outstanding kicker and I’m confident he will receive a Division I scholarship.
Give credit to De La Salle. The Spartans drove down the field to take the lead at 21-14. They added a touchdown with 1:30 to go in the game for the 28-14 victory.
De La Salle did control the game in the fourth quarter with a strong running attack.
Sanchez knows his team put on a good showing for the crowd and television audience.
“We’re proud of our kids the way we fought,” he said, noting the opening kickoff put his team in a hole.
Sanchez also said the Gorman fumble inside the 20-yard-line which led to a De La Salle touchdown and the Gorman touchdown which was called back were the
plays which led to Gorman’s downfall.
“The defense did a fantastic job and the offense did a pretty good job,” Sanchez said. “The offensive line really did a fantastic job handling their guys very well.”
“On defense, the front eight all did a fantastic job against their veer. The defense did a fantastic job all night,” Sanchez said.
“The whole game came down to the touchdown called back. They ran the clock out after that.”
Sanchez called Powell’s 25-yard touchdown which was called back one of the best runs he’s ever seen by a high school runner.
“He broke five tackles,” Sanchez said.
Powell had 111 yards gained rushing.
“Saturday night we looked like a great team,” Sanchez said. “We just couldn’t overcome a couple of things.”
Frank Fertitta III, chairman and CEO of Station Casinos, was a two-way standout lineman on the 1979 Gorman large-school State championship team.
And, to say the least, Fertitta and his brother Lorenzo Fertitta are major Bishop Gorman boosters. Note I did write “to say the least.”
Gorman’s football stadium is named after their father, Frank Fertitta Jr.
Frank Fertitta praised the De La Salle crowd for its sportsmanship.
In fact, he praised everything about De La Salle, from its great football team to its outstanding marching band.
Fertitta said it was great for Gorman to be on the same field with De La Salle, which won 151 straight games between the 1992 and 2003 seasons.
“We hung with De La Salle. We weren’t embarrassed,” he said.
“I think Tony Sanchez has done an unbelievable job,” Fertitta said. “Tony Sanchez is the guy who brought Gorman to a new level. He’s not afraid to play the best.”
Fertitta’s 1979 State champion Gorman team included Danny Tarkanian at quarterback; halfback Brad Ezor, Chi Chi Bengochea, Mike Brascia (who played at Southern Illinois) and kicker Bobby Lozzi.
Gorman also won the State football championship in 1980 and Lozzi kicked game-winning field goals in both games.
Frank and his wife, Jill, have a daughter, Victoria, who is on the varsity cheer squad at Gorman and a son, Frank, who is a sophomore two-way player on the Gaels junior varsity football team.
Lorenzo Fertitta also has a son, Lorenzo, also a sophomore two-way player, on the Gaels JV team.
Gorman wrestling coach John Field also knows football. He was a star high school player in Ohio and received a scholarship to Southern Illinois, where he was a teammate of Brascia.
Field played as a freshman on Southern Illinois’ 1983 NCAA Division I-AA national championship team. As a senior, he was a 1-AA All-America defensive back for the Salukis and signed a free agent NFL contract with Tampa Bay.
Field, who played one year in the Canadian Football League with Toronto, walked the sidelines at De La Salle.
“I think it was a great experience for the Gorman team, coaches, staff and fans to go play a team like De La Salle,” Field said. “Gorman put itself in a position to win when it scored a go-ahead touchdown but it was called back. Give De La Salle credit for winning the game in the fourth quarter. De La Salle was as well-coached as any high school football team I’ve ever seen.”
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Bishop Gorman will play ‘historic’ De La Salle on CBS College Sports

If any high school football program in the country could approach “legendary” status, it would be De La Salle, an all-boys Catholic school in Concord, Calif.
If holding the nation’s longest prep football winning streak at 151 straight games doesn’t qualify a school to at least approach “legendary” status, I don’t know what they have to do.
De La Salle won the 151 consecutive games from 1992 through the 2003 season. The Spartans went 12-0 or 13-0 every year for 12 straight seasons.
Talk about a dynasty.
In fact, the website “The Spartanhead,” dedicated to De La Salle, says “The Spartans are perhaps the greatest dynasty in sports history.”
What other team has won 151 straight games?
(I do concede that Long Beach Poly has sent a lot of players to the NFL.)
And guess who is coming to dinner at De La Salle on Saturday night?
Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas will challenge the Spartans on a game to be televised by CBS College Sports.
“The Spartanhead” reports that since Bob Ladouceur took over as head coach at De La Salle in 1979, the Spartans have the highest winning percentage in football history.
Take that USC. And Ohio State.
Want some national championships?
De La Salle has five of those, thank you.
The Spartans were selected national champions in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 by USA Today.
De La Salle has done pretty well lately, too. The Spartans are two-time California State champions.
De La Salle defeated Crenshaw of Los Angeles to win the 2009 California Interscholastic Federation championship. The Spartans won the 2008 CIF Division I State title.
Oh, and when De La Salle set the 151-game record winning streak, it didn’t just break the previous mark, the Spartans obliterated it. The old mark was 72 and De La Salle more than doubled it.
Take that Bill Belichick.
“The Streak” came to an end when the Spartans lost to Bellevue (Wash.) High School, 39-20, at Qwest Field in Seattle on Sept. 5, 2004, before a crowd of 24,987.
I can’t even imagine a crowd of 25,000 seeing a high school football game in Nevada.
It’s easy to write about De La Salle because the team knocks you out with impressive numbers. And the adjective impressive doesn’t do the Spartans justice.
De La Salle is ranked No. 9 in the nation in the latest USA Today rankings. Gorman is No. 18. Not bad, either.
USA Today has De La Salle (2-0) at No. 3 in the West and Gorman (3-1) at No. 4.
No. 2 in the West is Hamilton of Chandler, Ariz.
Hamilton beat Gorman, 24-17, in the Sullenberger Classic between the defending Arizona and Nevada large-school champions in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Aug. 21 in the Skydome at Northern Arizona University.
Bingham of South Jordan, Utah,  is No. 1 in the West and No. 3 in the country in the USA Today poll.
No offense to the fine neighbors in the “Beehive State,” but I am surprised a team from Utah is No. 3 in the nation. I always think of Florida, Texas and California as the best high school football in the country.
De La Salle opened the season by tromping Junipero Serra (Barry Bonds’ alma mater), 45-7, and then turning back St. Mary’s of Stockton, 40-14.
The Spartans are led by linebacker Blake Renaud, headed for Boise State, and defensive end Dylan Wynn, bound for Oregon State.
First, let me emphasize Ladouceur is a tremendous coach. No doubt about it. His record proves that. But he can out Lou Holtz even Lou Holtz.
“I don’t think there is any question (Gorman) has better athletes than we do,” he said.
Ladouceur added, “I don’t think we are going to just line up and mow them down. They’re big and hard to move. We’re going to have to run the ball and mix it up.”
Poor De La Salle.
Hey coach Ladouceur. Your team has won 201 straight games against Northern California competition. You’ve won five national championships. And you’re playing at home.
Gorman has won three straight since the close loss to Hamilton in Flagstaff.
The Gaels beat Del Oro of Loomis, Calif., 38-13, at Gorman. A good win. Del Oro won 11 games last season.
Coach Tony Sanchez’s Gaels also rolled over Clark, 48-0, and Sierra Vista, 63-0. Gorman seriously let up against both teams in the second half.
Sanchez coached in the same league as De La Salle before coming to Gorman.
I asked a Gorman assistant coach after last week’s game how much film they had on De La Salle.
“Years,” he said.
Sanchez has a classic example of blackboard material for this game. USA Today picked De La Salle to win 34-15.
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