This really taught
Carter a lesson. He knocked Glenn down in the first round and won himself a
spot on the boxing team, and at this point Carter started to like the Army. He
fought 56 times, won 51, 36 by knockouts. He even gave up beer. But things were
not going to be that simple.
Soon after the end
of his hitch, Carter got caught by what he considers a bookkeeping accident. He
still was down as an escapee from Jamesburg, and soon after he returned home, a
conquering hero of sorts, a clerk somewhere in the depths of New Jersey red
tape elected to make a routine check. Carter was discovered at home by the
visiting cop service and sent to reformatory in Annandale, N.J. to serve out
his indeterminate sentence. He was there for nine angry months, his fuse
sputtering all the while. "I thought the world owed me a living then for
real," Carter says. "I had a good job when they sent me to Annandale; I
was a foreman in a factory. When I came out I had nothing. I started hurting
people in the street."
On July 1, 1957
Carter and a buddy went on a two-man crime wave. The record reads:
Robbery Victim: Mary E. Deary
Robbery Victim: Ray Harrison
Assault with intent to rob Victim: Edward Simon
Yet at this late
date Carter pleads innocent, sort of. "Look, I've done all kinds of
things," he says. "I broke into parking meters, broke bus windows,
anything. But I never robbed those people.'''
It was, Carter
insists, merely booze and naked aggression. All they did was snatch a woman's
purse ("It had no money in it," he says), beat up a pedestrian, smack
another in the jaw and laugh all the way. "It was right on the street where
I lived," Carter says, unconscious of the irony in his lyrical choice of
words. "We were having fun. After I grabbed the lady's pocketbook she fell
down. We were both laughing so much my friend ran into a wall. It was broad
daylight. If anybody was chasing us they coulda caught us easy. Then this fella
came walking along, and we beat him pretty good. We started running and ran
into this other fella and we hit him, too. He didn't fall down. He leaned
against a tree. We forgot about him, but he was following us."
The wounded man
pointed out his attackers to a policeman, who approached the pair from behind,
grabbed the friend with one hand and reached for his revolver with the other.
Carter seized the opportunity to escape. He could have been shot down, but
there was no need to shoot. The policeman recognized him easily. It did not
occur to Carter to become a fugitive. "They came at 2 o'clock in the
morning to arrest me," he said.
A sharp lawyer
might have had the charges reduced to three counts of simple assault. But
Carter pleaded guilty to the more serious charges. "My father got a colored
lawyer," Carter says with bitterness. "He was for real estate. He
didn't know anything about it."
Not that Carter
was helping himself much. The first thing he did in county jail was get into a
fight with a cellmate. "He got pretty well hurt," Carter says, as
though the man had been hit accidentally, by a car. "So no bail for
The sentence was
two to six years. Carter served four years and three months. Prison was
bearable because he stumbled into a training routine. Just because there was
nothing else to do he took to running around the hard-packed earth of the
prison yard. It was an even furlong, eight times around for a mile. He never
ran fewer than 56 times around, or seven miles—often he did as much as 11 miles
a day, winter and summer. They let him watch fights on television, spar in the
gym, unload supplies to build up his muscles. Then there were books on boxing,
and this led to other books, and although Carter only has what he calls an
1lth-grade education, he has an agile mind stuffed with odd bits of knowledge.
"But I don't read fiction," he says. "I believe in reality. What's
not there is nothing."
So it was that
when Carter dispatched Florentino Fernandez so quickly in his first main bout,
he was able to say: "It was easy. I trained for that fight for 4�