"No, not that much, but I will, and then I will send my two boys to get an education and buy a ranch for my wife to put pigs on."
"Do you hold a job?"
"Yeah," said a friend, "he's a rag-picker."
"Yeah," said Gonzalez, "I'm a rag-picker, but I'm a fighter, too."
Cokes, however, seemed hardly concerned with the lack of artistry in the fight. He was the champion now and, indeed, he had tried to make a fight of it. His principal postfight concern was how he could make money out of the title, and he was especially grateful to a gentleman by the name of Cornbread Smith. "If it hadn't been for Cornbread I don't know what I'd done," Cokes said. "He always said I'd win the title. Too bad he couldn't see it. He's dead."
Cornbread Smith was an old trainer around Dallas who, in his youth, had been a carnival fighter. Twice, once in 1963 and again in 1965, when Cokes, then a bank messenger, had quit fighting, Cornbread berated him for his hastiness and prodded Cokes back into the ring. He would send other fighters around to Cokes's house to pick him up, and every night he would call him on the phone and talk at great length. Cornbread, although a soft-spoken, placid person, "sure lived up to his nickname." says Cokes. "He got the name while catching for a ball team. They used to see that little thin guy scrap, and everybody got to sayin' he was as rough as cornbread. He was with me anyway."
"Boy," Cokes can recall Cornbread saying, "you got no sense? Why don't you stop all this messing around and be what you're supposed to be. A fighter. In fighting you got a chance at something. And don't anybody tell you that you can't get busted up real nice outside there. That bear, he just waiting for fellas like you."
"What bear! Boy, you ain't never heard of the bear? You stop fighting and you'll run into him. Bear back and bear table, that's what bear'll be looking for you."
Following the fight, Cokes, laughing and talking quietly, said, "That old man sure had me scared of that bear, but I ain't no more." And then he went home, turned his record player up so that the sound crashed through the room and sat back and listened to the alto of Cannonball Adderley, who, like Cornbread, plays things the way he feels, brings them up from deep down.