Big Julie is a talker—not the oratorical kind, but compulsive, like the characters who show up around paddocks with racing programs in one hand, cigars in the other and enough advice to lose a thousand races. Julie's last name is Isaacson. He loves the track and cigars, but these are not his only sporting diversions. Occasionally he is also seen around the fights. This is because he has a boxer named Ernie Terrell, a very long and very pleasant young man who is quite a talker himself. Taken together, Big Julie and Bigger Ernie are engaging originals—and sometimes they are almost as good as they sound.
Terrell is 6 feet 6 inches tall, and he weighs about 200 pounds. On March 5 in Chicago he is fighting Eddie Machen for the heavyweight championship of the world—a title held at the moment, in the eyes of the world and everyone but Big Julie and the World Boxing Association, by Muhammad Ali-Cassius Clay. "I don't really win it until I beat Clay," said Julie the other day, using an I that meant we, in the manner of generals and field marshals. "I don't know I am going to get him in there with me."
Terrell is handsome and, in his quiet way, as outspoken and as confident as Clay. While Machen is the man he is meeting now, Cleveland Williams is the man he was supposed to fight before Williams was shot in the stomach during a hard disagreement with a policeman near Houston. Terrell repaired to Chicago to get himself ready for the fight against Machen not long ago and in search of guidance he called Big Julie, who, right then, was busy being president of the Electrical Novelty Workers Union Local No. 118 in New York.
"Hi, Julie," he said. "I can't train in this YMCA, because the ring is right up against the wall. I get hit in the head on the ropes, my head hits the wall and I don't like that."
"So?" Big Julie hollered, loud enough for people to hear it in Chicago without the phone. "You got to fight, not me. So find a good place."
"O.K.," Ernest said. "Any place?"
"Money don't matter," Big Julie hollered. "You be happy."
Terrell moved out of the YMCA the next day, and Big Julie went from New York to Miami Beach.
"I don't think I know enough about boxing to bug my fighter all the time," he said a day or so later, studying a racing form at Hialeah. "What I do, I get the best trainer I can get, I let him get the fighter ready. Am I going to tell him how to fight? I don't know. So I stay away from the training camp. I get very nervous two, three days before the race—I mean the fight. This No. 4 horse gets out of the gate fast, it can't miss."
Big Julie has been on a diet and he is not so big anymore. He used to weigh 250-odd pounds, but now he is under 230 and he looks trim.