Nation: Walks on the Wild Side

At 112th Street in Spanish Harlem, the mayor of New York was—literally —on the ropes. As his two opponents rushed him into one corner after an other of the portable boxing ring, he lunged back about as effectively as Charlie Brown. But to the 1,000 Puerto Ricans who jammed the block, he might have been heavyweight champion of the world. "Viva Lindsay!" they shouted. "Higheeah! Oooooah!"

For John Vliet Lindsay, who had planned no more ambitious a ploy than to referee an exhibition bout between Lightweight Champion Carlos Ortiz and his sparring partner, the sweat, the blows —and the appreciative gasps—were just...

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