'AIN'T NOTHING HIT TOWN LIKE ME'
Several days before he had fulfilled his audacious promise by knocking out Archie Moore in the fourth round, Cassius Marcellus Clay, child of scorn, lolled upon his bed in a hotel room in Los Angeles and listened to a recitation by an old man called One Round Andrews. Its tragic hero was, as in so many of these accounts, a cowardly fighter. "He was the prettiest thing you ever saw," said One Round, with feeling, "walking the streets of Los Angeles hungry. Know why? No heart, Cassius. No heart." He thumped his chest to show Cassius where it wasn't.
In preparation for Moore, who numbers his years in the upper 40s, Clay, only 20, sought the counsel of old citizens like One Round; in Miami, for instance, where he did most of his training, he sparred with a Mr. "Pop" Mobely, a bewildered 65-year-old tailor. Now he listened to One Round, whose eyes were shut as though he could better recall the past by dismissing the present. "If you had jabbed me," One Round asked, "where do you think you'd have hitted me?"
"In the palm of my hand!" One Round answered himself, cackling.
"You know what this old man, Mr. One Round Andrews, told me?" said Clay. "When I get in the ring with Moore, he's going to be wrong if he do and wrong if he don't. He showed me just like Jack Johnson do. Jump back and smile. I'm Jack Johnson. But I'm no Negro, am I, Angelo? I'm half Hawaiian and half Indian. Isn't that right, Angelo?" Angelo Dundee, Cassius' trainer, said nothing.
Clay leaped out of bed and looked soulfully at the rug. "How is it down there, old man?" he asked. "Get up. The people want to see their money's worth. It's only round two. You supposed to fall in four."
"I wouldn't be surprised if he knock him out in one round," said Rudolph Valentino Clay, Cassius' kid brother.
"You're the modest one, Rudy," said Cassius. "Don't you get bold. I'm the greatest. Ain't nothing hit town like me. I'm the onliest fighter you'll see on the corner debating with his fans. There's been a lot of great fighters that just fight and that's all, isn't that right, Mr. Andrews? It's unusual to see a fighter pop off. But if I didn't pop off they wouldn't have anything to write. And you seen what happened to that quiet man who walked into that ring with Liston. There are two greats left, Britain and Clay. I'm not conceited. Conceited means a person that thinks they have when they don't. I done talked so much, I'm tired of it. Scuffling to be the greatest, it's tough.
"You know what I'm going to get after this fight?" he said, brightening. "A candy-apple-red 1963 Fleetwood Cadillac. A convertible. I want my top down. I'm going to ride with a fox on each side of me and my record player playing Chubby Checker and $500 in my pocket for spending money. I'm going to wear a black silk mohair suit, starched white shirt, black bow tie, $55 alligator shoes. I'm going to have a TV set in the back seat and a telephone for communication with my $175,000 home. You like that, huh? And after I annihilate Liston I'll have a chauffeur. I'll be too valuable to drive myself. I'm going to have a double-decker Greyhound bus for my bodyguards, my valets, my sparring partners and my cook. My double-decker bus is going to have its own kitchen because there might be trouble along my route; I haven't integrated everyone like I have my trainer, Angelo. I'm going to retire when I'm tired of talking and set down in my $175,000 home and collect rent from my $500,000 apartment project. I'm the onliest one."
The great debate