Dundee opened the
door and a few people crowded in to look at Ali. He was sitting naked on the
edge of the bed. He reached for his pants on the floor and, rocking his body
back and then forward off the bed, he jumped into them with both feet going
into the trouser legs simultaneously. He stood up in the same motion, hitched
his trousers up and cinched the belt in. "Oh, my," Dundee said. He
laughed. "And they've been telling themselves in Quarry's camp that he puts
his pants on one leg at a time."
hungry," the champion was saying. "Tonight I'm going to eat me some ice
cream and pie. But I dunno. It's so hard to run off that fat. Maybe I'll have
some water and a cheeseburger."
He went into the
main room and caught sight of Jesse Jackson. They jumped for each other and
swung around the room shouting and hollering, Ali's face bright with
excitement, Jackson's emotional and serious.
smile, that man," someone said.
explained: "But you see, he's dyin'. All these people who have to
march...the leaders...they're dyin'. Julian Bond, he don't smile, he blushes. A
dyin' man don' offer up a big smile; but if he just twinkle a bit, that's a
smile. If he just grunt, why you say, 'Oh, my goodness, he's kickin'.'
The phone rang.
Ali broke away from Jackson and rushed for it. "This is Ali. How you doin'?
Chile, you be at the Regency at 9 o'clock. You'll be goin' to the fight. You
and Mrs. Martin Luther King, I'm takin' you all."
Jim Jacobs had
left the Jack Johnson film for him, and Ali set it going again. He wanted to
see the early moments of it—the Burns fight, the Jeffries fight, and then a
section in which Johnson intones, "I like champagne corks, the smile of a
pretty woman. I like life and I like it now. I'm Jack Johnson and I'm the
champion of the world. I'm black. They never let me forget it. I'm black all
right. I'll never let them forget it!"
Ali relaxed in
his chair, his hands folded over his stomach. From the doorway Jesse Jackson
watched him intently.
Johnson, he won the title when he was how old?" Ali asked.
he was told.