In his hotel room the evening before the Ali-Bonavena fight Angelo Dundee was trying to knot his tie in a mirror and keep a watch on a televised pro football game at the same time. But he was thinking about neither. "Somebody ought to write a book about Bundini," Angelo said, referring to Drew Brown, that blithe spirit who is Muhammad Ali's self-proclaimed assistant trainer and psyche coach as well as the often most ebullient member of a fight camp renowned for its fervor. "Hey, Jimmy, what is it you always say about Bundini?"
"Put a headdress and beads on him you'd have a witch doctor," said Angelo's brother. "And I don't mean that in any negative sense. There's good witch doctors, you know."
"Right," Angelo said. "This Bundini, he's a strong person, very interesting. I met him just before our Doug Jones fight. He was talking about the planets. Like to drove me up the wall. While we were getting ready for our first fight with Liston, the champ says, 'Angelo, guess who's coming down?' I said, 'Oh no, don't tell me!' But there's no friction between Bundini and me. He insists on being called assistant trainer. There's no crossing of roles. I like him. The trick is, if you try to understand him, he'll drive you crazy. So I don't try."
A few doors along the hall from Angelo's room, on the 15th floor of Loew's Midtown Motor Inn in Manhattan, a tall black man with a deep scar on his right cheek sat on a chair rubbing his hands together and looking desperately unhappy. Ali lounged on the bed, in his right hand a .38 pistol that belonged to a detective who sat grinning in the corner. Ali touched the cold pistol muzzle to his head and smiled at the man with the scar.
"Don't you do that, champ. Put up that gun," said Bundini.
"Click!" said Ali.
"You're playing when you should be praying," Bundini said.
Ali stuck the pistol against his foot.
"Bang!" he said.
"Champ, this ain't right. I can't stand this. You know how I feel about guns." As Bundini left the room he could hear them laughing behind the closed door. "Makes me look like a nut, a weakling," he muttered, walking down the hall. "But it scares me what could happen when a man gets hold of a gun." He entered Angelo's room and poured himself a drink of Scotch into a coffee cup.