I was surprised by his easy assumption that we would know what an Ibo was. I guessed correctly that it was the name of his tribe, his people. Much of the world would come to know that name soon enough—shamefully and tragically.
"A bookstore?" I asked. "Why would you want to buy a bookstore?"
He flashed a smile that revealed a gold tooth. "Because I like to read books. Har, har. Why else?"
Dick Tiger had not called his press conference to discuss books or bookstores. Instead, he continued to impress upon the other reporters his arguments about why he should get a rematch with Giardello and why it should be soon.
His best and most practical point was that the only decent payday available for Giardello was to fight the true champion, Dick Tiger. If Giardello did not offer him a rematch, Tiger said that he would step up to fight light heavyweights. The winner of the Willie Pastrano-José Torres fight for that title in a few weeks would be a real possibility, said Tiger. He also vowed that once he stepped up in class, he would never come back down. And, thus, Giardello could kiss goodbye a profitable return match.
When Tiger had finished his statement, a reporter asked, "You own a fur coat?" The fighter's brow furrowed, and he shook his head. The reporter went on, "You should have one, because Giardello will give you another shot just about the day after hell freezes over."
There were some perfunctory questions about Rivero; then someone asked if there was anything Tiger would like to say directly to Giardello.
"I respect any man who is a champion," Tiger said. "Truly. I do not blame him as much as the people who are behind him. But now he must finally act like a champion and defend against the challenger who has the strongest claim."
"Isn't he just waiting until you're too old, until you lose your edge?"
"He is as old as I!" Tiger suddenly jumped into a ferocious boxing position; his face contorted into a sneer, and a snarl rolled from a curled lip. He growled ominously, "A Tiger never loses his hunger." And, just as suddenly, he transformed himself back into the affable, relaxed man who had charmed us. There was nothing left to say. I waited until the other reporters had left.