A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“If you see your glass half empty, pour it into a smaller glass and stop complaining” (10/15)
“If you see your glass half empty, pour it into a smaller glass” (10/15)
“If you see your glass half empty, pour it into a smaller glass and stop bitching” (10/15)
“It is easier to start a war than to end it” (10/14)
Moxie (slang for having heart, courage) (10/14)
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Entry from May 13, 2012
“Auto racing, bullfighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports—all others are games”

"Auto racing, bullfighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports—all others are games” has been credited to the author Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) since the 1980s, but there’s no evidence that he ever wrote it. The inclusion of “bullfighting” probably brought to mind Hemingway’s book about the sport, Death in the Afternoon (1932).

The automotive writer and editor Ken Purdy (1913-1972) wrote about “mountain climbing, bullfighting and automobile racing” in a 1957 issue of The Atlantic and further explained in a 1960 book:

“I have a quotation in a story, a piece of fiction that won’t be published until next summer,” I told Portago, “something that I think you might have said: that of all sports, only bullfighting and mountain climbing and motor racing really try a man, that all the rest are mere recreations, games that children can play. Would you have said that?”

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Portago said.


Purdy was discussing the quotation with driver Alfonso De Portago (1928-1957). A 1976 book called this “Marquis de Portago’s dictum,” but Portago was being told the line by Purdy. The “piece of fiction” is Purdy’s “Blood Sport,” from the July 27, 1957 Saturday Evening Post:

“There are three sports that try a man,” she remembered Helmut Ovden saying, “bullfighting, motor racing, mountain climbing. All the rest are recreations.”

The American writer Barnaby Conrad is sometimes creidted with the quote, but there’s no documentary evidence to support this.


Wikipedia: Ken Purdy
Kenneth William Purdy (April 28, 1913 – June 7, 1972) was an American automotive writer and editor.

Purdy was born in Chicago in 1913, and raised mostly in Auburn, New York, by his mother after his father, songwriter William Thomas Purdy ( 1882–1918 ) (On, Wisconsin!) died when Ken was only six. Ken graduated in 1934 from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Soon after, he got his first newspaper job with the Athol, Massachusetts, Daily News. From there he went to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to the Chicago Radio Guide, to associate editor of Look; and to the United States Office of War Information as editor of Victory during World War II. He was an editor at Parade, Car and Driver, Argosy and True magazines between the late 40’s and mid 50’s.

Purdy’s main interest just happened to be autos and the people who drove them. Among other things, he produced 35 short stories and scores of automotive pieces for Playboy. He won Playboy’s annual writers’ award three times. His Kings of the Road, published in 1949, is still a landmark.

Purdy died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on June 7, 1972 in Wilton, CT.

The International Motor Press Association presents the annual Ken W. Purdy Award to a writer for an outstanding body of work or a specific piece of work that deals with the automotive world.

Timeless Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway FAQ: Quotations
“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”
This is one in a long list of quotations mysteriously attributed to Ernest Hemingway.
(...)
In July of 2006, Gerald Roush, a visitor to Timeless Hemingway, provided a possible source for the “three sports” quotation. He cited a story titled “Blood Sport” by Ken Purdy, which originally appeared in the July 27, 1957 edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The story is reprinted in Ken Purdy’s Book of Automobiles (1972). Gerald provided a scan of where the quotation appeared and it reads as follows: “ ‘There are three sports,’ she remembered Helmut Ovden saying. ‘Bullfighting, motor racing, mountain climbing. All the rest are recreations.’ “ Gerald noted that the character of Helmut Ovden is modelled after Ernest Hemingway. This could explain why the quotation has been so widely attributed to Hemingway over the years.

In May of 2007, Rocky Entriken wrote to Timeless Hemingway with another possible author for the quotation:

“As I am told, the quote belongs to Barnaby Conrad, a writer of the same era as Hemingway and a San Francisco raconteur of some note. Mostly he did magazine articles but his books include The Death of Manolete. My source is Dan Gerber, yet another writer of the era.”

Google News Archive
16 May 1958, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Risk of the Roaring Road” by Ken W. Purdy (author of “Kings of the Road,” in the Atlantic), pg. 16, col. 5
I once asked a well known driver if he did not think it was true that, of all sports, only mountain climbing, bullfighting and automobile racing really tried a man, and that the rest were recreations. He agreed completely.

Google Books
Wonderful World of the Automobile
By Ken W. Purdy
New York, NY: Crowell
1960
Pg. 16:
“I have a quotation in a story, a piece of fiction that won’t be published until next summer,” I told Portago, “something that I think you might have said: that of all sports, only bullfighting and mountain climbing and motor racing really try a man, that all the rest are mere recreations, games that children can play. Would you have said that?”

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Portago said.
Pg. 68:
“There are three sports that try a man,” she remembered Helmut Ovden saying, “bullfighting, motor racing, mountain climbing. All the rest are recreations.”

Google News Archive
1 August 1969, St. Petersburg (FL) TImes, pg. 4C, col. 1:
“Only Motor Racing, Mountain
Climbing And Bull-Fighting...”

DAYTONA BEACH (AP)—Dr. Wilbur Pickett, a Daytona Beach neurologist, agrees with a British writer who once observed that of all sports “only bull fighting, mountain climbing and motor racing really try a man.”

3 October 1971, Sunday Register-Star (Rockford, IL), “Aerobatic pilots are new breed” by Dave Grimm, pg. B1, col. 4:
A philosopher once said “There are three true sports—bullfighting, mountain climbing, and auto racing.”

Google Books
Climbing in North America
By Chris Jones
Berkeley, CA: Published for the American Alpine Club by the University of California Press
1976
Pg. 279:
Not a few climbers knew the Marquis de Portago’s dictum, “There are only three real sports: bull-fighting, motor-racing, and mountain climbing.”

30 April 1988, Toronto (Ontario) Star, “Why should race fans be defensive” by Jim Kenzie, Wheels, pg. G3:
Ernest Hemingway was once quoted as saying, “There are only three sports—car racing, mountain climbing and bullfighting. The rest are merely games.”

Google Books
The Successful Race Car Driver:
A career development handbook

By Robert E. Metcalf
Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers
2000
Pg. XI:
Ernest Hemingway was one of the world’s great individualists. There have been many others. Vincent Van Gogh, John Lennon, Albert Einstein, and Henry David Thoreau were not easily led by others, but it was Hemingway who said, “There are only three real sports in the world: bull fighting, mountain climbing, and auto racing. All others are just games.”

VeloceToday.com
December 15th, 2004
Book Review
If Hemingway Had Written a Racing Novel

By Patricia Lee Yongue, Assistant Professor of English, University of Houston
Available from VelocePress, $18.95 plus shipping.
If Hemingway Had Written a Racing Novel: The Best of Motor Racing Fiction: 1950-2000, Reno, Nevada: VelocePress, 2004, 197 pp. ISBN 1-58850-048-9, $18.95.
(...)
Richard Nisley’s enticing proposal responds to Ernest Hemingway’s celebrated celebration of the true bullfighter as the exemplar of “grace under pressure.” Nisley likewise responds to the widespread belief that Hemingway was the originator of the famous dictum “There are only three true sports; bullfighting, mountain climbing and motor racing. All the rest are mere child’s play.” Sad to say, Hemingway claimed no such stature for auto racing—or for mountain climbing. Both high-risk disciplines were outside his provenance. And he would never have claimed a podium finish for bullfighting. In “Death in the Afternoon” (1932), Hemingway explains that bullfighting is not a sport, but a cultural rite, a dramatic “tragedy.”

International Herald Tribune
Racing, boxing and Froissart
By BRAD SPURGEON | December 31, 2007, 7:45 pm
I’ve been wondering these days why Ernest Hemingway’s famous expression to the effect that there are only three real sports, auto racing, bullfighting and mountain climbing and the rest were all games, did not including boxing. Except that perhaps he knew it would be a more powerful sentence with only three items, and not four.

Google Books
The Good Life According to Hemingway
By A. E. Hotchner
New York, NY: HarperCollins
2008
Pg. 37:
Auto racing, bullfighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports...all others are games.

Bleacher Report
Open Mic: What’s a Sport? Bullfighting, Mountain Climbing, or Auto Racing?
By L.J. Burgess(Senior Writer) on July 1, 2008
The title comes from a variation of a quote attributed to Barnaby Conrad, the author of The Death Of Manolete, magazine writer, all-around bon vivant, and owner of El Matador nightclub in San Francisco.

Conrad was a contemporary of Ernest Hemingway’s, and a prolific scribe of that era. He was considered a man’s man in his circle, and a comparison to Hemingway and confusion as to the origin of the quote were both apt for the times.

The quote itself exists in many forms, but a simple translation would be:

“Only bullfighting, mountain climbing and auto racing are sports, the rest are merely games”.

Google Books
Soccer and Philosophy:
Beautiful thoughts on the beautiful game

By Ted Richards
Chicago, IL: Open Court
2010
Pg. ?:
Does the quote often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, that “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games,” accurately convey a Nietzschean sense of athleticism?

Google Books
The Great Book of NASCAR Lists
By John Roberts
Philadelphia, PA: Running Press
2012
Pg. 51:
Ernest Hemingway. “Auto racing, bullfighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports. All others are games.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (5) Comments • Sunday, May 13, 2012 • Permalink


Yeah, I think that the toughest game is Car Racing.

Posted by auto repair Katy main  on  05/15  at  04:48 AM

For me, motor racing for me is one of the challenging sport smile. People has a way to perceive sports. For others it could be that easy and for others it could be difficult and some are just lucky enough to be on the sport. Sports involve quick thinking, physical endurance and also determination. Great article, anyway.

Posted by Ogio  on  06/07  at  10:19 PM

I just wanted to add a comment here to mention thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming thus I appreciate when I see well written material. Your time isn’t going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and stick with it No doubt you will definitely reach your goals! have a great day!

Posted by Fighting Games  on  06/21  at  06:25 PM

visit the island of Madura in Indonesia, there is a show bull race.. very amazing show.. wink

Posted by TreTans.com  on  08/03  at  10:02 AM

Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sport. its the amazing games.thanks

Posted by auto transport quote  on  10/15  at  04:35 AM

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