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Watching the Man in the Mirror
George Plimpton
November 23, 1970
Though millions saw Muhammad Ali return to the ring after years of exile, none had a closer view than this old friend. An eloquent diary of the day in Atlanta—and how it all added up to more than a mere exchange of punches
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November 23, 1970

Watching The Man In The Mirror

Though millions saw Muhammad Ali return to the ring after years of exile, none had a closer view than this old friend. An eloquent diary of the day in Atlanta—and how it all added up to more than a mere exchange of punches

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He peered at himself closely.

"A hair comb, somebody," he said. He held out his hand behind him, blindly, as he continued looking into the mirror, and someone slapped a comb into his palm as one might supply a busy surgeon.

He moved the comb through his short brush, flicking at some wayward tuft, until Dundee approached with the foul protector and the boxing gloves, new and gum-red from their packing cases.

Ali balked at the protector. "I'm not wearin' that thing," he said. A chorus of dismay rose from around the room. "Just try it on and see," someone urged. Sulkily, Ali skinned out of his trunks and shimmied the protector up over his thighs. He pulled the trunks back over them. A babble of voices rose.

"It looks just fine."

"Trim, man. Beautiful. Trim."

Ali began some knee bends, hands out, and every time he came up above the level of the dressing tables he turned to look at himself in the mirrors. Then he stood up and slapped at his trunks disgustedly.

"Where are my brother's trunks?"

"Champ, those trunks look just boss."

"Slim and trim, champ, slim and trim."

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