The gloves were
put on and he began another flurry of punches. Murmurs rose from those standing
along the wall. "Hmmm, cook," called Bundini.
Hearing that, Ali
stopped suddenly and turned to Bundini. "Now I don't want you to be
hollerin' in the corner, Bundini," he said, "and start to get all
excited and shout things like 'cook' and all that. It takes my mind off
furious. "What do you expect?" he shouted. "You expect me to keep
my mouth shut when the cake is put in the oven? When all the preparation and
the mixin' is done and it's time for the fire, you expect me to stand around
with my hands on my hips? If-fen you expect me to keep my mouth shut, you
better kick me out of your corner and keep me in here"
then, you stay out of the corner," Ali said. "You stay in
The two stared at
each other, the enormity of what Ali had said beginning to hit. Bundini pressed
his lips together and seemed on the edge of tears. "Aw, come on," Ali
said gently. "You can come on out."
He started up his
shadowboxing, the episode quickly forgotten, once again concentrating on
himself in the mirrors. Bundini wouldn't look at him for a while. "My
goodness." he said. Sweat began to shine on Ali's body. "I'm warm
now," he said, looking at Angelo.
The door burst
open and Sidney Poitier rushed in. Ali jumped for him and the two spun around
the room in an embrace. "Sidney's here! I'm really ready to rumble!"
Ali shouted. He held the slim actor off at arm's length and looked at him,
elegantly got up in a tight, form-fitting gray suit. "Man, you
exercise?" he asked admiringly. "Hey," he said, "give me a
rhyme to psych Quarry—when we're gettin' the referee's instructions." He
held up an imaginary microphone. Poitier bent his head in thought; he had been
caught by surprise. "You met your match, chump," he intoned in his soft
voice, "...tonight you're falling in...." He cast around desperately
for a rhyme for 'chump.' "...You're falling in two" he cried, giving
terrible," Ali said. "Man, you stick to actin' and leave me the rhymin'
and the psychin'."
him luck amid the laughter, and disappeared.
Ali reached for a
towel and began to rub off the Vaseline. "Is the ring nice?" he