(Red Grandy / ©S&S)

(Red Grandy / ©S&S)

(Red Grandy / ©S&S)

Heavyweight boxing champion Ingemar Johansson stops in Frankfurt on his way to entertain troops in the Gaza Strip in March, 1960.

Heavyweight boxing champion Ingemar Johansson stops in Frankfurt on his way to entertain troops in the Gaza Strip in March, 1960. (Red Grandy / ©S&S)

(Red Grandy / ©S&S)

FRANKFURT — Heavyweight king Ingemar Johansson, easily the biggest thing to come out of Sweden since smorgasbord, Anita Ekberg and the hammer of Thor, set up his throne at Rhine-Main airport for a few hours Thursday while on his way to a series of exhibitions for UN troops in the Gaza Strip.

And before he resumed his jet journey to Beirut, Ingo managed to dispense numerous smiles, pearls of wit and practicality and to display an aversion toward answering controversial questions before glancing at his advisor, Edwin Ahlquist.

After a half-dozen exhibitions in the Middle East, Johansson is scheduled to box at Torrejon Air Base, Spain, March 16; Lages AFB, Azores Islands, March 18; Harmon AFB, Newfoundland, March 20; Argentia Naval Station, Newfoundland, March 22, and Keflavik, Iceland, March 24.

When is Ingo going to defend his title against Floyd Patterson?

The first time this question was asked Johansson merely gazed at Ahlquist. Ahlquist shrugged his shoulders.

And Ingo stated that until the contracts were signed nothing was definite, and at the moment he couldn't say just when they were going to sign.

A little while later, the question was asked again, and this time the man who started the Swedish nightingales singing in Patterson's ear answered without first pausing.

"It looks like the fight will be held June 22 in New York."

Which would you prefer, Yankee Stadium or the Polo Grounds?

Ingo smiled at this one and didn't bother to look at Ahlquist before coming back with a snappy "Wherever we can make the most money."

On the subject of money, Johansson was asked whether or not he had collected the $160,000 he earned by knocking out Patterson. The money is being held in escrow by the New York State Athletic Commission.

"No money, no fight," he said.

It was as simple as that.

What are you looking for in your return with Patterson ? Do you think this fight will be harder (it couldn't he much easier)?

Ingo grew thoughtful.

"It could be harder; he's very fast you know ... in boxing everything can happen."

What about a fight with Archie Moore?

"After Patterson, it would be OK with me. I think we could draw a big crowd wherever we fought."

Johansson's mind is on Patterson, however, and he said that as soon as he returns from this exhibition tour he will start serious training in Geneva, where he now makes his home.

After that, if the contracts are signed and everything is in order, he will put the finishing touches on his training at Grossinger, N.Y., the site of his training camp for the first Patterson fight.

The arrangements for his title defense weren't the only subject on which Johansson was inclined to be vague. The other one was the 27-year-old Goteborg (Sweden) ship and construction company. owner's marital status with regard to brown-haired Swedish beauty Birgit Lundgren, who is his secretary.

Does he have any marriage plans?

"No," Ingo smiled, "I think I just belong to the world."

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now