In fact, he says, the prison term was a kind of relief. The first two years were spent in anger. But following a strange and profane epiphany, during which God spoke to him, he found his peace. "I'm no idiot," Smith says, "and I'm not going to tell you I saw Jesus and shook his hand. But I finally realized I needed something bigger than Harold. Something said to me, 'Succeed, succeed.' "
And beginning that day, he did. In a frenzy of citizenship that would gratify his judge. Smith began a Chamber of Commerce at the Petersburg, Va., prison camp, became its president, and organized softball games and fund-raisers for charity. As far as we can tell, a car show that raised money for a Christian orphanage was this promoter's first genuine money-maker. This was a different, down-scaled version of that old big damn fun. "No knock on the prison system," he says, "but Harold didn't do no hard time."
But did he deal with his greed? Well, he has not devoted the rest of his life to good works. Have you? His relationship with money is obviously complicated. You could say it has something to do with growing up poor in Huntsville, Ala., five boys to a bed, bologna for breakfast. Something to do with the humiliating discovery one day of a can of Alpo dog food beneath his mother's bed. So that the boys, at least, might eat bologna.
Perhaps it would be foolish to simplify Smith that way. Then again, maybe he's not even that complicated. He got carried away is all. All we know for sure is that he's back. Success, success. "If Larry beats Holyfield, and I'm telling you he knocks him out in nine," Smith says, "he would get a minimum of $20 million to light George Foreman." You hear the fever in his voice, and for a second you wonder, Do some things never change? They do. This is a new age. a new Harold Smith. This, says Smith, is all money that will go into a bank.