Yes, yes. My wife was watching television carrying the interviews with Ali. When I came into the room she said, "You know that Muhammad Ali, he doesn't act like a boxer or athlete. He is brilliant in his repartee. He would make a damned good politician."
Do you see Ali as a kind of a symbol of the Third World?
Yes, no matter what one says, Ali symbolizes success in that part of the world which sees white men as colonial and the like. The old voices against colonialism are all over Asia again because of the Vietnam debacle, and Ali symbolizes a continuing protest against this racism and dominance because of color and birth. And while this may not be fascinating to the Western world, it is to Asians a highly charged matter.
Do you think the Philippines will benefit greatly from holding this fight?
We have benefited already. The fight publicizes our country. Many people do not know where the Philippines are and don't know what the situation is here. They think that the military runs the government, tanks are on the streets. Have you seen any tanks? They think people are arrested on any pretext. That there is oppression, tyranny and the civil government is nonexistent or inoperative. That there are no judges. But whatever you fellows say, you must see that the fight can be held here in peace and order.
In the hotel lobbies they used to shoot each other. The airport you came through, they tried to burn that down. They tried to burn down city hall. They kidnapped someone every day. Nobody, no visitors get hit over the head in Manila anymore. Under martial law we are very strict with criminals.
Do you have a scheme for a series of events, such as this one and the $5 million Fischer-Karpov world-championship match?
No, the fight just fell into place. Fischer is a friend, and we played chess long before he was a champion. I learned to play in prison.
How did you do against Fischer?
I stalemated him once.