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In a small cold room at the back of the Boys Club in Hayward, Calif., a few miles south of Oakland, Archie Moore was taping George Foreman's hands. They were talking about Joe Frazier, the heavyweight champion.
"We're gonna cut him off at the pass, baby," Archie said. Archie was dressed with fair modesty in rose-colored trousers, a dun shirt, suspenders, a wide red tie and brown and yellow striped shoes. This was a workday, the second since Foreman had started training to fight Frazier. Foreman had on a T shirt, shorts and red, white and blue boxing shoes. In a few minutes he would be sparring with Stamford Harris, also known as The Big Bamboo from Jamaica, out in the gym.
"Gonna...what you call it? Drygulch him," said Foreman.
They laughed. Archie was stringing in astonishing amount of stuff onto Foreman's hands. Adhesive pads first, hen yards of gauze, adhesive tape, napkins, black electric tape, more wrappings and adhesive. They are big hands to begin with. Soon they looked like stone axes. Why all the stuff? Had the hands been hurt?
"Never been hurt and ain't gonna get hurt," Foreman said. "Down in Jamaica they won't let me kick."
A television crew from Germany had set up lights, tape recorder and camera in the room. Foreman would glance at the men now and then and smile softly as they discussed their meter readings. At last the interviewer moved up next to Foreman, tapped on the mike and said, "George, critics say you've been brought along too easy, didn't fight the toughies. Now, suddenly...Frazier for the title. I have to bring this up. Joe is a different caliber from the other guys you fought. What do you have to say?"
"What you want to say about it yourself?" asked Foreman.
"Well, it doesn't necessari...."
"You trying to be funny?" Foreman said.
"No, I'm not trying to be funny," the interviewer said a little nervously.