"The Marines were tough," he says, "but they taught me to be my own man." In his second year in the Marines, at 21, he began boxing for the first time. In 1965 he won the All- Marine Corps Championship, and then he won it again in 1966 and 1967. A week before he was released he got a pro offer and took it.
The Marines taught Norton who he was; a man he met three years ago showed him who he could be. He is Dr. Michael Dean, a hypnotist in whose eyes there is a kind of glimmer that makes people look at him out of the corners of theirs. The night before the Ali fight Dean said that hypnosis would be accepted as a boon to humanity 100 years from now, and that if Norton beat Muhammad Ali it would be a tremendous boost. He was in San Diego's Gaslight Supper Club, where he gives two double shows each weekend. On this night one of his many dramatic feats was to hypnotize a stout self-conscious woman who said she couldn't sing. Dean had her do a fine imitation of Sophie Tucker belting out You Made Me Love You. He said that show business is a means to an end, to gain attention for something very serious. He is concerned, he said, with helping people realize their full potential, in business, in education, in athletics.
Dean met Norton in 1970, after his first and only loss, to Joe Luis Garcia. Norton had won 15 straight as a professional, 14 of them knockouts, and he says, "I wasn't prepared mentally for improved competition. I was cocky as hell." In the first round, his hands down, he got tagged with a straight right by Garcia and never recovered, losing in the eighth round by a knockout. Dean began teaching Norton self-hypnosis and working with his trainer, Eddie Futch, he implanted sound ring tactics in Norton's subconscious mind.
For all his improvement Norton became discouraged when top fighters would not agree to a match with him. Now they will have to if they want to make money, and Ali wants to be one of the first. Saturday night, after his jaw had been wired—"There was a �-inch separation," a doctor said, "the pain must have been unbelievable"—Ali was still talking. "When I'm ready I'll take this guy back," he said. That could be by September, Angelo's brother Chris thinks, but "this guy"—the name, Ali, is Norton, Ken Norton—has to agree. He probably will. In the week before the fight Norton was reading a book entitled Think and Grow Rich. His favorite part was the final stanza of a poem:
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.