with Ali got me the best illumination in boxing. I mean, whenever the name of
the heavyweight champion came up, my name popped up with it. Because of that, I
get letters and phone calls every day from young fighters who want to come to
Miami Beach and work for me. I always ask them if they have a manager, and if
they do I tell them to tell him to contact me. Some of them have no talent and
no dedication. They read about Ali and all the money he makes and they read
that I am his trainer and they figure that this is the easy way to the big
money—which, of course, it isn't. The other day in Detroit, Ray Jones, the
younger brother of Cody Jones, told me he wanted to try boxing. Ray looks just
like Cody, who was a good fighter and a sparring partner for Ali for a while.
Ray's 22 years old and big and strong, and I told him to come on down to Miami
Beach and we'd try it for a while.
I don't know how
good he will be. It takes a while for a fighter to develop, especially if he is
as green as Ray is now. Physically he has all that he needs in size and
strength. But you don't know if he is willing to make the sacrifices a fighter
has to make on the way up. Money won't be plentiful for a long time. He'll have
to give up drinking and smoking and other pleasures and devote a good deal of
his life to really hard physical work and training. And he'll have to be ready
to accept pain. Boxers get hurt. They have to be strong enough to take the pain
without letting it confuse them or create any fear in them.
If they have
enough dedication to accept all this and work hard for two or three years,
there is still the possibility that they will be just short of good enough to
make a respectable living in the ring. I don't mean win a championship—the odds
against that are so tough that most kids would run like bandits if they
realized what they were. Just to be good enough to fight in main events
requires a truly exceptional man.
Most of them, the
heavyweights, think they can be another Muhammad Ali. Well, I don't think I'll
ever see another one like him. He was the one and only.
I hope I'm around
to help when he starts fighting again.