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Primo Carnera

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 10:25 am

Inspired by JBW's thread on boxing and politics, I thought I would share something that I read about over the weekend. You may or may not find it interesting but here you go anyway.

During the Second World War, the Italians were coming under pressure in North Africa from Allied forces who were pushing them back towards Tripoli. The Allies were using a mixture of British, Indian and some black South African soldiers who were making relatively easy progress against an Italian army that was both under-prepared and unwilling to put up much of a fight. The Italian leadership was concerned about protecting their North African teritory, and needed to do something to boost morale.

So, enter Mussolini himself with a grand plan to reassert the Fascist manhood amongst his beleaguered troops. Who does he roll out? None other than Primo Carnera, former World Heavyweight Champion, and Italian legend. So poor old Primo gets sent to North Africa to make a propaganda film ordered by Il Duce himself. The Italian army set up a boxing ring and ordered a fight between big Primo and a captured Allied prisoner of war.

The POW was a 6 foot 3 inch black South African called Kay Masaki who had been captured in the Allied offensive over previous weeks. Now Kay Masaki might have been a big chap, but he had never set foot in a boxing ring before. He was picked mainly because Mussolini wanted to show how the Fascist Italian man was physically superior to African negroes, trusting that a reinforcement of this sentiment would inspire the Italian army to greater efforts. The camera started to roll and sure enough, Primo took control and knocked Masaki down early. But, the African prisoner was made of sterner stuff than that and actually came roaring back to land a knockout punch of his own, rendering Carnera completely unconscious! Details of what happened afterwards are sketchy, but I guess you probably wouldn't have wanted to be Kay Masaki that day having just upset Mussolini.

And what of poor old Primo. He kills Ernie Shaaf in a fight, and then goes on to be derided as a phoney champion who was allegedly the beneficiary of heavy mob influence over his career. Not only that, he was then knocked out by a novice POW in North Africa.

A sad and ignominious tale for a much maligned champion.

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Post by Rowley Mon 02 Apr 2012, 10:32 am

Tina think most accept he did not kill Shaaf, the autopsy stated that Shaaf had entered the ring extremely ill and basically had swelling on his brain before he took a punch in that fight, it was unfortunately not diagnosed before hand but think the coroner said he was an accident waiting to happen and Carnera's punches had nigh on no impact on his death it was just going to happen the minute he entered the ring.

I'm planning a Carnera thread myself tonight, they are like buses, you wait an age for one and all that.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 10:47 am

rowley wrote:Tina think most accept he did not kill Shaaf, the autopsy stated that Shaaf had entered the ring extremely ill and basically had swelling on his brain before he took a punch in that fight, it was unfortunately not diagnosed before hand but think the coroner said he was an accident waiting to happen and Carnera's punches had nigh on no impact on his death it was just going to happen the minute he entered the ring.

I'm planning a Carnera thread myself tonight, they are like buses, you wait an age for one and all that.

I sit corrected then, jeff. I didn't realise that about Ernie Shaaf.

I shall look forward to reading your thread then. I'm sure it won't be a patch on mine but then I am a tough act to follow.

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Post by Rowley Mon 02 Apr 2012, 10:50 am

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:

I shall look forward to reading your thread then. I'm sure it won't be a patch on mine but then I am a tough act to follow.

I'll just do my best to come close tina, hope you realise writing about someone who fought in black and white is a sure fire way to the five response club. Please don't take it personal but if it does begin to upset you try and edit it to work in a few Khan references.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 10:56 am

I know it refers to the black and white era, but I thought even Az might dip his toes in seeing as it involves a Saffer.

I might just keep bumping it, at least till gets more posts than Daves Bradley Pryce thread.

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Post by Rowley Mon 02 Apr 2012, 10:59 am

This one will give it five, which is precisely one more than my Jeff Clarke thread got

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Post by Union Cane Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:01 am

Interesting story Tino, has echoes of Jesse Owens back in 36.
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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:03 am

Great story, Tino, one which I wasn't aware of before. The way in which boxing, seemingly more than any other sport, blends in to the political background of any given era is something which has always fascinated me, and always will I reckon. Poor old Primo, indeed! Problem is, now I'm unsure as to whether I should get all views on the 'Ambling Alp' out here, or on Jeff's thread later. Decisions, decisions.
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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:10 am

88Chris05 wrote:Great story, Tino, one which I wasn't aware of before. The way in which boxing, seemingly more than any other sport, blends in to the political background of any given era is something which has always fascinated me, and always will I reckon. Poor old Primo, indeed! Problem is, now I'm unsure as to whether I should get all views on the 'Ambling Alp' out here, or on Jeff's thread later. Decisions, decisions.

I would wait for jeff's thread, Chris. Don't tell him but it will probably be far more comprehensive than mine!

It is facinating though. I just wish there was a bit more detail about what happened to Kay Masaki. I fear for him, but it is difficult to find any more information.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:17 am

Union Cane wrote:Interesting story Tino, has echoes of Jesse Owens back in 36.

It does, Union. I was thinking that when reading about it yesterday. You could easily substitute Mussolini for Hitler and his ideas of Aryan's being phyically superior to people of Afican origin. Owens doing what he did in 1936 must have been anathema to Hitler, much like Masaki beating Carnera must have been to Mussolini.

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Post by Union Cane Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:17 am

Apparently Masaki hadn't been fed for 3 days prior to the fight, making this all the more impressive.
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Post by Rowley Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:19 am

Apparently on the day Mussolini was executed a mob turned up at Carnera's villa as he had been pictured in the black shirt and had consorted with Il Duce, rather than hide Carnera strolled outside with a shotgun and faced down the mob single handedly, and they quickly dispersed, say waht you want about Carnera's boxing ability but the guy did not lack for guts or heart.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:23 am

Great story, jeff. I feel sorry for Primo, he certainly led an eventful life.

I don't think Carnera actually had Fascist tendencies, much like Schmeling wasn't an anti-semite. More a case, as Chris alludes too, of being victims of their time.

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Post by The Boss Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:23 am

Great article, Tino. Bit of a pity about Primo. Very much derided fighter but I think he should be absolved of a lot of the blame. He spent his whole career being controlled by people in authority positions. Is there any way he could have stopped that chain of events that led to his career following the trajectory it did?

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:26 am

The Boss wrote:Great article, Tino. Bit of a pity about Primo. Very much derided fighter but I think he should be absolved of a lot of the blame. He spent his whole career being controlled by people in authority positions. Is there any way he could have stopped that chain of events that led to his career following the trajectory it did?

Not sure about the rest of his career, but there is no way he could have rejected Mussolini's request, Boss. I imagine he would have 'disappeared' quickly had that been the case. I guess he didn't for one minute think he would lose to a novice POW who (thanks Union) hadn't been fed for 3 days.

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Post by Rowley Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:28 am

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:

I don't think Carnera actually had Fascist tendencies, much like Schmeling wasn't an anti-semite. More a case, as Chris alludes too, of being victims of their time.

Totally agree Tina, have read biographies of both Schmeling and Carnera recently and they both come across as decent blokes thrust into impossible situations, the regimes they lived under were tied up to ideologies that prided themselves on the percieved supremacy of their blood line, what better symbol of this supposed supremacy could you have than a succesful heavyweight boxer, given this it is inevitable they would both be used for PR purposes and equally as obvious to me that refusing to toe the line was not really an option.

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Post by The Boss Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:30 am

Cheers Tino. I really don't know many details of his career so was just generalising. Suppose it wouldn't have been the smartest thing to do.

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Post by superflyweight Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:30 am

Coincidentally, I too read about this last week. I take it you're also reading the Max Hastings book on the 2nd World War, Tina?


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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:33 am

superflyweight wrote:Coincidentally, I too read about this last week. I take it you're also reading the Max Hastings book on the 2nd World War, Tina?


Certainly am, Superfly. I don't miss any Max Hastings books if I can help it. He only mentions it briefly doesn't he, but I wish he had expanded on it as he is a exceptional reseacher.

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Post by superflyweight Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:38 am

First book of his I've read and really enjoying it so far. It's a shame he didn't have more on the incident but I guess there's a lot of stuff to cover and the result of an exhbition fight starring someone like Carnera is only going to spark interest in certain readers.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:43 am

superflyweight wrote:First book of his I've read and really enjoying it so far. It's a shame he didn't have more on the incident but I guess there's a lot of stuff to cover and the result of an exhbition fight starring someone like Carnera is only going to spark interest in certain readers.

Precisely. In a book about arguably the greatest 'event' in human history, a bout between an ex boxing champion and a POW is pretty insignificant. Still, that is what 606v2 is for!

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Post by Union Cane Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:46 am

There is an article on the Time Magazine website about Carnera vs Masaki, but you need to subscribe ($30.00) to read it in full.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,885648,00.html
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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:49 am

Union Cane wrote:There is an article on the Time Magazine website about Carnera vs Masaki, but you need to subscribe ($30.00) to read it in full.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,885648,00.html

Thanks Union. I saw this last night but didn't want to subscribe for sake of one story! There are a few snippets out on t'internet but nothing of much significance. Enough to grasp the story but it would be nice to see a bit more substance.

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Post by Union Cane Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:51 am

Truss probably has a subscription, perhaps if we are nice to him...???
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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 11:54 am

Union Cane wrote:Truss probably has a subscription, perhaps if we are nice to him...???

Doubt it. Time probably subscribe to TRUSS Magazine.

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Post by Union Cane Mon 02 Apr 2012, 12:02 pm

"The great bulk of Carnera dropped. He didn't rise. And the cameras immediately stopped rolling. The propaganda project was abandoned and the Italians took Masaki back to his camp where, battered but happy, he was greeted with jubilation."

Taken from 'Captives Courageous - South African POWs of WWII' by Maxwell Leigh.
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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Mon 02 Apr 2012, 12:35 pm

Union Cane wrote:"The great bulk of Carnera dropped. He didn't rise. And the cameras immediately stopped rolling. The propaganda project was abandoned and the Italians took Masaki back to his camp where, battered but happy, he was greeted with jubilation."

Taken from 'Captives Courageous - South African POWs of WWII' by Maxwell Leigh.

Awesome work, Union. Thanks very much.

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Post by John Bloody Wayne Mon 02 Apr 2012, 9:23 pm

Excellent article and a really great story. Thanks for sharing it. I've always liked Carnera, but could never figure out why. It's almost as if I like him because his career seems like such a fumbling bad luck story of a quite likeable fella!

It's not hard to see why he could scare off a large number of people with or without a shotgun...
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/it/thumb/4/40/PRIMO-CARNERA.jpg/300px-PRIMO-CARNERA.jpg

I can't wait to see the other thread on him, shame I haven't got too much time spare right now, visiting relatives in Scotland. I'll hopefully get around to it...

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Post by ShahenshahG Mon 02 Apr 2012, 9:33 pm

I recently found out that Hitler didn't snub Owens, not watching usually alot of tv I unexpectedly had a couple of paid holidays off and watched a re run ofQI - stephen fry's program. That he was offered the option of congratulating everyone or no one when called up on his only congratulating germans. Even that when owens waved at him he lifted a hand in salute and the germans crowds recieved him warmly? Thats probably the weirdest thing i've ever heard. Instead it was Roosevelnt who didnt ever acknowledge owens victory.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:08 am

Just as an update, I decided to 'do a Union' and email the author of the book I am reading. Here is his response;

"On the Masaki-Carnera encounter, I'm afraid you would be lucky to discover more than I know, because you must remember this wasn't a proper match, but a stunt organised by Mussolini's propaganda film unit!"

Nice of him to bother replying, but didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know.

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:11 am

Agree it was nice of him to respond Tina, unfortunately there is no reference to it in the Carnera biography I have just finished, but given the book is pitched at a bit of a defence of the man and a corrective is unlikely not to linger on a story about him getting smacked out by a rank amateur.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:24 am

rowley wrote:Agree it was nice of him to respond Tina, unfortunately there is no reference to it in the Carnera biography I have just finished, but given the book is pitched at a bit of a defence of the man and a corrective is unlikely not to linger on a story about him getting smacked out by a rank amateur.

I found some stuff that a guy from the University of London had written about African soliders in WWII but again it is only a few lines. There seems to be enough to corroborate the story, just not enough to put real flesh on the bones. Shame it hasn't made it into the biography you read, even it is was a defense of the man, as it is a great story.

I think you should use your influence with Adam and get me a subscription to Time Magazine, then I will happily post the full article from there?

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:28 am

Mind the windows Tino. wrote:
I think you should use your influence with Adam and get me a subscription to Time Magazine, then I will happily post the full article from there?

Would love to Tina but don't want to eat into the christmas do fund, have never been to the Maldives.

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Post by JabMachineMK2 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:34 am

Its always fascinating reading about the older fighters I've never heard of.

Keep up the interesting articles! clap

I don't respond to many, but just wanted you to know they're not ignored at all - just some of us are embarrassed with our lack of knowledge in comparison.... Whistle

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:37 am

rowley wrote:
Would love to Tina but don't want to eat into the christmas do fund, have never been to the Maldives.

I have, a place called Lily Island. Not alot to do there, unless you are into watersports or snorkelling? Nice scenery and very hot but I got bored after a while. Make sure you all eat fish as well.

Have a nice time and please post a group photo on here.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:43 am

JabMachineMK2 wrote:Its always fascinating reading about the older fighters I've never heard of.

Keep up the interesting articles! clap

I don't respond to many, but just wanted you to know they're not ignored at all - just some of us are embarrassed with our lack of knowledge in comparison.... Whistle

Many thanks JM but there is no need to be embarrassed. I wish I could say it was all my own original thought but I am only sharing someone elses hard work. It was just an interesting story.

Now, if you had posted a fraudulent thread about sparring with a professional boxer, that would be embarrassing. But would ever do something silly like that........ Whistle

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Post by JabMachineMK2 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:49 am

I would never do that Tino, never. Not at all


Doh

I suppose the embarrassment comes from not really having any knowledge of boxing outside of the marquee names, articles like this highlight the difference in our knowledge as you know and have interest in boxers that weren't mainstream. Its incredibly interesting, I suppose it requires time and effort to get to that level - application that I lack - as beyond Jack Dempsey/Joe Louis - my knowledge at least until the late 60's is very very lame.

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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:52 am

JabMachineMK2 wrote: Its incredibly interesting, I suppose it requires time and effort to get to that level - application that I lack - as beyond Jack Dempsey/Joe Louis - my knowledge at least until the late 60's is very very lame.

You could always write a book. I am reading a boxing book at the minute and within the few pages the author has managed to mis-spell Muhammad Ali and also call Joe Louis Joe Lewis, which for someone writing a book on the subject of boxing is about as shameful as it gets, not really relevant but made my blood boil last night and thought sharing it might ease my pain.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:55 am

rowley wrote:
JabMachineMK2 wrote: Its incredibly interesting, I suppose it requires time and effort to get to that level - application that I lack - as beyond Jack Dempsey/Joe Louis - my knowledge at least until the late 60's is very very lame.

You could always write a book. I am reading a boxing book at the minute and within the few pages the author has managed to mis-spell Muhammad Ali and also call Joe Louis Joe Lewis, which for someone writing a book on the subject of boxing is about as shameful as it gets, not really relevant but made my blood boil last night and thought sharing it might ease my pain.

Your such a grammer nazi.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 10:55 am

You'd better stay clear of Bert Sugar's Boxing's Greatest Fighters then Jeff, it is full of such errors.
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:00 am

I really am not Tina, will accept as many of the books I read are either self published or published by extremely small firms the proof reading takes a bit of a hit, the Sundowners is riddled with mistakes and I love that book but Joe LEWIS! that is absolutely beyond any level of acceptability.

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Post by Mind the windows Tino. Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:03 am

You did realise I was joking, right? Read my line again.

My humour is wasted on here.

Mind the windows Tino.
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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:05 am

Problem is Jeff, if you spell it correctly then people (Barry McGuigan) start pronouncing it with a French accent - ie "Louie".
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:06 am

I did realise Tina, particularly liked the misuse of your, a particular bug bear of mine but still wanted to rant about the book because can't begin to describe how annoyed I was last night, although on reflection perhaps I need to watch the news occasionally and develop a sense of perspective.

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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:07 am

It was a cracking little line, Tino. Suspect Jeff is having too much of a cob on to appreciate humour at the moment. Still, I don't know what he expected when he shelled out for a Waingro publication. I hear a biography of Vladimir Klichko is up next...
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Post by Rowley Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:11 am

Union Cane wrote:

That line works better when directed at someone without the ability to delete posts in my experience.

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Post by Union Cane Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:12 am

Eh?
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Post by ShahenshahG Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:13 am

88Chris05 wrote:It was a cracking little line, Tino. Suspect Jeff is having too much of a cob on to appreciate humour at the moment. Still, I don't know what he expected when he shelled out for a Waingro publication. I hear a biography of Vladimir Klichko is up next...

Its already out, the little teaser on the back reads: Vladimir Klichko has a brother from the same mum and dad. He is called Vitally Klichko nd he should be cruciallyfied.


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Post by JabMachineMK2 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:14 am

Mod fight.

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Post by JabMachineMK2 Tue 03 Apr 2012, 11:15 am

ShahenshahG wrote:
88Chris05 wrote:It was a cracking little line, Tino. Suspect Jeff is having too much of a cob on to appreciate humour at the moment. Still, I don't know what he expected when he shelled out for a Waingro publication. I hear a biography of Vladimir Klichko is up next...

Its already out, the little teaser on the back reads: Vladimir Klichko has a brother from the same mum and dad. He is called Vitally Klichko nd he should be cruciallyfied.


He got schooled by Lennox Lewis who schooled and destroyed him in the world championship. He was dominated. The book is called "schooled and dominated by people who destroy"


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