ARCHIE: MORE OR LESS
There are two Archie Moores. One lives inside the other. They are both men of wit, literacy and substance. The outer Moore is, materially, more substantial. When Archie promises, as he did before his fight with Giulio Rinaldi last week, that one will see "more Moore," he also means that one will see less Moore. The outer Moore weighs more than 200 pounds and has the indulgent contours of an unemployed channel swimmer. This is the abundant Moore: the veranda philosopher citing Aesop, admiring Aristotle; the after-dinner speaker; the San Diego rancher boxed out on quarts of mushy vanilla ice cream; the movie star. The inner Moore is the light heavyweight champion of the world, who reigns, in these divided times, in New York, Massachusetts, California, Europe and the British Commonwealth. He weighs less than 175 pounds and is but rarely seen, skulking cannily like some �minence grise within the outer Moore until the strong, green scent of money lures him out.
His occasional appearances are well worth attending, however. His latest, the ninth defense of the title he won in 1952—when he was, by his own inadvertent admission and the solemn word of a boyhood friend, 36—occurred last Saturday night in Madison Square Garden before a restive crowd of 9,500. His opponent was young Rinaldi of Anzio, Italy who got a walk-on with Archie by defeating the outer Moore in Rome last October.
It is quite possible that Rinaldi wore himself out before the fight began; as each celebrity came to wish him well in the ring, he rose from his stool, performed a dancing-school bow and sat down again. Moore, on the other hand, lounged in his corner in an off-white, florally brocaded silk robe which was created by Archie's mother-in-law ("She is one of the most talented of gown designers," says Archie) and which looked like it might have made a very fine tablecloth. When he removed the dressing gown, he revealed his Bermuda-length silk trunks, also by Mrs. Marie Hardy, which have the rich drapery effects of a Van Eyck. Moore says he wears long pants "because I like to associate myself with another era, the era to which I belong, the era of Jack Dempsey."
During the first two rounds, but only then, it appeared as if Archie's association was accurate. Although they were both fast and as lacking in relevant incident as a Jackie-Nina luncheon, Rinaldi won them on the majority of cards. If Archie had allowed Giulio to continue in his fashion—darting strongly in and out, a tactic designed to wear Moore down—Archie would have lost, which never was his intention. As Archie says: "They should have known I wasn't going to tire, because I have the secret of energy unlimited. I do not know how old Doc [ Jack Kearns, his 78-year-old manager] is. But he has the secret and he's beautiful. I am endowed with certain gifts, like Aesop the slave was naturally endowed. One of my greatest gifts is a quick brain. Another is my catlike reflexes. And the third is courage. I define courage as pride. I am a man that must be prideful because I hate embarrassment in the worst sense. A young bull like Giulio, with all his strength, cannot win. There is joy, a great thrill, me fencing with those young kids out there. You need skill and experience. Experience is something you have to learn. Doc said something: the definition of experience is a bunch of mistakes."
According to Kearns, Rinaldi gained experience Saturday. He is strong, but as Harry Wiley, Sugar Ray Robinson's trainer, says: "He didn't use his strength. He fought him too loose. Archie could hold his frame in and punch from positions advantageous to an old man." Giulio is also a fast runner, an implausibly wild puncher—"When he decided to apply rushing tactics, he'd miss like the proverbial windmill," says Archie. "His blows were very cooling"—and his nose glows like a blown ember when it is hit. As Randy Sandy, who sparred with Rinaldi, charitably says: "Giulio has hidden talents, but he never reveals them." In brief, Archie husbanded his punches in the early rounds, applied himself to defense until he had fought himself into shape and then, almost casually, took charge, readily winning all of the subsequent rounds except for the fourth and ninth. He earned $100,000 for his labor.
"This fight," he says, "was a product of the conservatism which I have garnered over the years. This man would not meet me in this time of combat. He tried to outbox me and played right into my hands. I was boxing along normal, convention lines, and when Rinaldi got rough I knew that the Salt Mines [his San Diego ranch] and my famous diet which shed my excess obesity would take him apart. We were exactly the same age going into the ninth round, then he got older. Am I right? I was under the impulse to take him out when he hurt his ankle in the 15th [actually a blister developing on top of a callus caused Rinaldi to stumble and limp], but I did not want to take advantage of him. He's a visitor and I wanted him to feel welcome. Why spoil a youngster's record? If I had knocked him out within seven rounds it would have been all right, but I jammed my metacarpals in the fourth round, and my hands wouldn't permit me to punch as customary. And my hands are strong. It was a neighborhood trait of kids with nothing to do when I was growing up to walk on their hands. I could walk down five or six flights of stairs, around the block, anything daring and colorful, as I do now. But this fight was a prelude to things to come. Don't think for a moment I did not have Harold Johnson [the National Boxing Association champion] in mind. In order for me to meet Harold, I need 15 rounds of work. I also needed to stop wagging tongues that I cannot go 15 rounds." (Incidentally, it had been widely publicized that Johnson received $5,000 from Madison Square Garden to stand by in case Archie couldn't make the weight. This turned out to be a hoax. Harold didn't get a cent.)
Despite fitful booing, especially when Rinaldi and Moore were locked like stags in clinches, Archie thought he made a satisfactory fight, "relative to an old man 40 and up. I came to town to fight, to defend. I met him in the center of the ring. If this man is trying to take my title, how can he do it unless he's on top of me?" This is a sensible statement, but visually the match was only satisfactory for those who delight in the abiding spectacle of Archie enduring; as a contest it was a drag.
After the fight, Moore mounted a rubbing table in his dressing room like a chautauqua speaker. "I wanted him to take a lesson home to Italy," Archie said. "They rang a bell in Anzio when he won. I was up in a big hotel in Rome, and I heard it pealing (Anzio is 33 miles from Rome). Anzio is in a valley, and the sound traversed up the valley. I sleep with the windows open, and it disturbed my slumber. I am sure all is quiet in Anzio now. Gentlemen, may I take a bath?"
In Rinaldi's dressing room Giulio lay heartbroken on his rubbing table as they pressed ice to his many cuts. "I never dreamed I'd lose," he said with great softness. His friends came and took his hand. "Coraggio" they said. "We lost," Giulio said. "I am sorry, for I have disillusioned you." The doctor wanted to sew up the two cuts on his left eyelid and a smaller one on his right eyelid. Giulio didn't want him to, and they argued dispiritedly for a half hour. Finally Giulio limped to the bathroom and looked at himself for a long time in the mirror. Then, convinced, he lay down, and the doctor began to sew. His manager, Luigi Proietti, folded his hand over Giulio's crossed hands as Giulio moaned and gasped in pain and cried "Madre." When the doctor had put five stitches in the left eyelid and started on the right, Giulio suddenly flung himself upright as though he had started from a nightmare, and flailing his arms, limped wildly about the room. "Una, uno" the doctor pleaded, but Giulio turned and turned, prowling about the table, glowering and trembling. "Finite," said the doctor soothingly. "Finite), Giulio." A man came in and said that Giulio's fianc�e was waiting outside. Giulio brightened. "I have no fianc�e," he said, "but I could use one tonight." And then he kissed his medal, slipped it over his head and dressed.