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As for feeling at home, Foreman's morale has improved since he decided to move into Kinshasa and live at the Intercontinental Hotel. This has offended people in some quarters since the President put the suburban N'Sele complex at the fighters' disposal, but Foreman believes that hotels are lucky for him. He stayed in hotels for his Caracas, Tokyo and Jamaica fights and he declares that he is more at home in them. Indeed, the Intercontinental is a haven of peace and rest compared with N'Sele, where Za�rian music and public announcements are belted out over a powerful P.A. system all day long.
Because of his presence in town, Foreman's popularity has grown with the local fans, and an instant poll in the ivory market shows 30% now in his favor compared with almost no support in the early days. This boom comes despite some old, incalculable factors that work against Foreman, such as his German shepherd Daggo. One does not see dogs in Za�re; the word is that they are not appreciated by local people because of their role in the days of Belgian colonial occupation. Still, Foreman can now count on a lot more ringside partisanship at four a.m. on October 30th, Za�re time.
Meanwhile, a handful of charter flights are reported shaping up in the U.S., England and Belgium, but there are likely to be fewer than 2,000 out-of-country fans on the scene at Vingt du Mai soccer stadium. Promoter Don King insists that there will be no problem, however, in filling the place with Za�rian fans at prices ranging from $10 to $200.
Work on the stadium is nearly finished, and the Belgian engineer in charge is delighted with the extended canopy of galvanized steel being mounted over the ring. It will cover 80 square feet and will hang only 30 feet over the ring instead of the 60 feet originally proposed. This means—should the much-discussed rainy season strike about Round One—that the fighters and possibly their cornermen will stay dry. The spectators, of course, would be the most thoroughly soaked in all of boxing history. But there is no sign of the rainy season so far.
King claims he is now free from worries. "It remains but for the fighters to step into the ring. The little intricacies, the little bitty problems are all gone by. I feel very colorful," he says mysteriously. But bouncy and extroverted as he is, King is no match for the old master, who is in vintage form. Ali freely admits that his view of Foreman's training session showed him that the champion was moving well. "I didn't know he could move like that," Ali said the next day after his own workout. "But," he added, not willing to concede too much, "he didn't go on for long. I danced for five rounds of shadow boxing. Nobody but me can do that. Dance and punch. Dance and punch."
Certainly Ali had shown that he is superbly prepared. His training session, just as he said, had been much more punishing than Foreman's and at the end of it he was still full of bounce, doing his magic act with the stick again and putting out some imaginative prophecies. "In two years' time," he announced, "when of course I will still be champion of the world, 10 million people will be watching me meet the new White Hope from Mississippi—with Governor Wallace in his corner." Then he went on to more immediate problems.
"I'm sorry," he said gravely, "but I am going to get a lot of credit I don't deserve for whipping Foreman. He's got power, but he's like a boat with a big, powerful engine trying to move around in a little bit of water. Power ain't nothing to a moving target. That man's gotten his fame with no punishment. So he's a great fighter. He ain't even fought four rounds yet. Now you watch that George when he's training. Just one, maybe two rounds. It's a lot of work for a big man like him to get in the ring and fight five rounds like me. Quarry, all of them cats, I cut 'em. I cut most of my fighters. When I hit that Foreman it's going to be the launching of the first colored satellite."
The cut keeps coming back into Ali's conversation. It doesn't take a trained Freudian to figure out why he entitles his latest poem "Shaving in the Morning." Like other poets before him, Ali is feeling his way into a new phase of development. The short lyrics are now being replaced by longer oeuvres, just as Milton progressed from writing sonnets to the epic. Ali also retains his gift for instant improvisation. Last week, having had read to him Archie Moore's needling verse (page 34), he amended his own manuscript within seconds.
"Shaving in the Morning" goes on for some 40 lines, much of it echoing earlier pieces, with archetypal images of butterflies and bees, but a few lines must certainly qualify as among the best of Ali:
"People say to me, Ali, you're trading your lip again.