During his rest,
cars kept arriving and departing, ripping ruts in the wet grass out in back.
People wandered in and out of the cottage, hushing each other loudly to let Ali
sleep, some of them sitting out on the back porch to gossip and stare at the
brown lake, as still as metal that lazy afternoon. From time to time Bundini
tiptoed inside to the bedroom and squeaked the door open a crack to see if Ali
"No. He was
lookin' at me."
you let him sleep?"
have to sleep. He's just restin'. You can get more tired sleepin' than restin'.
You see, the champ don' need to rest for conditionin'. He's got that. He's got
four winds. Most people got two winds, but the champ's got four. But that don'
mean nothin' if your mind's tired. He's in there restin' up his mind."
name is Drew Brown—the other's a Hindi name he picked up in his seafaring days,
which he sometimes says means "mystic," sometimes "good-luck
man" and often, when the occasion rises, "lover." He has been an
associate of Muhammad Ali since the early "bear-baitin' " Liston
campaigns. His is the slogan "Float like a butterfly, sting like a
bee," and his particular function, besides his skill in the corner, is to
keep Ali's mind keen and, as the time approaches, to pump him up for the bout,
"fight-talkin' " him with a strong mixture of emotion and a kind of
Baptist rhetoric. He looks enough like Ali to be mistaken for a close relative,
and he has a similar exuberance of spirit—to a degree that one of his
associates refers to him as "hysteria on the hoof."
Bundini stood in
the kitchen and talked about the fight. "He win, and it's medicine for
everyone. He's sellin' pride. Medicine. And he sellin' it down here in Klan
Ian'. The ol' Slave Master is lettin' him rumble. He do everyone some good if
Governor Maddox? He tried to proclaim a day of mourning."
"It do him
good, too. The mornin' after the fight he gets the newspaper. He takes it into
the bathroom. His wife is in there. They look at the paper. They whisper. 'He
won.' 'He did?' 'He won in the second round.' 'Oh, my.' 'He come out, and after
just six weeks trainin' he take the other boy.' 'My, he must be somethin'.'
Well, when they whisper, man, you know they're human. The mission will get
Muhammad Ali know he's on a mission?"