"What you have to do with a song is to tell a story that everybody understands. Just tell it simple. Like a guy is getting dressed for a date. He's putting on his best clothes and he's looking forward to a big night. He wonders if the girl will go for him. Everybody understands that. It's the way life is."
Joe might very well become a good lyricist. Even so, he says that his "big fun is the cars because music has become a job. It's more rough than fighting. In the ring you only have one guy to contend with."
It is quite likely that Frazier's enthusiasm for performing with The Knockouts has cooled primarily because, unlike Ali, for example, he does not enjoy the life of a public figure. Undefeated or not, after retirement he will almost certainly lapse into an oblivion he seems to seek. He is as little known as any heavyweight titleholder of modern times, and that is by his own choice. He dresses neatly, not flamboyantly, a trait that led a friend to remark one day that he was "dressed like an undertaker." Joe was wearing black slacks, a black blouse with pleated silk sleeves and a black net T shirt. "Black on black," he said, grinning. "That's the hip thing now."
He does like colors in jewelry and in his ring costumes, however. On his right pinky he wears a platinum band with a 3½-carat diamond; on his left, a similar one with a cluster of smaller diamonds. And his watch, designed by him, has diamonds surrounding the face, which is red. As for his ring garb, he ordered a special robe for the Foster fight. "Make me a good one this time," he told the salesman. "I want it green, because that's my color and I'm going to stick with it, and I want gold flecks on it. What's flecks? You know how Liberace has his jackets made? That's flecks."
Frazier has been well protected, financially, by a group of Philadelphia businessmen who, themselves uninterested in the profits to be made from the heavyweight championship, banded together in an organization called Cloverlay, Inc. to provide for Joe's future. When they took him in he had just returned, triumphant and penniless, from the Tokyo Olympics. The Reverend William Gray of the Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia decided that Frazier needed sound business guidance if he was to succeed as a prizefighter and approached Bruce Baldwin, then head of Abbott Dairies. (Yancey Durham had previously warned Joe against tying up with the oldtime Philadelphia boxing set.) Baldwin was interested, gathered some 40 other business and professional men around him—the number has since increased—and Joe was launched under the sponsorship of Cloverlay. Durham, however, continued to make all decisions as to opponents and to bargain for division of the spoils of battle.
That year, 1965, Joe was paid $100 a week by Cloverlay. Later he got a raise to $173 a week, and at present he is drawing $1,000. He receives 55% of a fight's gross revenue; all but his salary is put into a deferred compensation account and invested for him. Durham gets 15%, and 30% goes to the Cloverlay group, which foots the bill for all expenses. Until Frazier fought George Chuvalo in 1967, Cloverlay was losing money, and the odds are that it will never make a bundle. But making a bundle never was the real idea. The champion's deferred compensation is piling up and, should he really retire after fighting Ali, there will be a tidy sum to pay the grocery bills while he fiddles with the insides of old automobiles.