the first round was dynamite. What a jab that kid of yours has got. Nifty
footwork, too. The first round, he wins it big."
the blow-by-blow. What happened?"
"I hate to tell you, Sam, but your kid gets knocked out in the second
round. Jeez, I'm sorry about it, but...."
straight knockouts," says Sam and hangs up.
day or so after I had arrived in Zaire for the George Foreman fight, I saw
Herbert Muhammad. He was sitting in a large wicker chair in the hotel lobby,
dressed in a spotless white suit, holding an ornate ivory cane and listening
respectfully to anyone who was allowed to approach him. He is a very quiet man,
listening attentively before making a decision which is silently obeyed. He has
divorced himself from the day-to-day hassles of the fight camp, but he is still
responsible for the big decisions. His is the only voice that Ali listens to.
And now, Herbert Muhammad introduces me to one of his personal physicians.
The man was a
doctor from Chicago, gracious and pleasant, with a sort of apologetic,
preoccupied air. But there was clearly something on his mind. Herbert Muhammad
explained that the doctor had been treating his ailing father, Elijah Muhammad,
and that he was in Africa strictly as a guest for the fight. He specified that
this would in no way interfere with my duties and authority over the boxing
part of Ali's life. But I knew that it wouldn't be that simple.
For one thing,
the atmosphere was too heady for a visitor not used to a fight buildup. Before
I arrived, the doctor had gradually taken over the medical duties of the camp.
And now, caught up in the excitement, he gave me his startling news: Ali was
suffering from a new affliction. Ali had hypoglycemia, low blood sugar. But
never fear, the doctor said, he had a remedy.
hypoglycemia is a catchall diagnosis, just like hypertension is used to
describe various reasons for weakness. Ali had been getting tired in the last
rounds of his past few fights, and now, in Africa, he was getting dizzy
following his workouts and he complained of feeling tired. The fact that he was
in a tropical climate, training hard at midday and was well past 30 did not
seem to occur to anybody. But I knew—and Angelo knew—that left alone Ali would
adjust slowly to the condition and be fully recharged by the time the bell
I knew that the
less a doctor does to a fighter, the better. Overtreatment serves to psych the
fighter into thinking he is carrying an extra burden into the ring. Angelo
never permits the word tired to be used in a corner; I feel the word sick
should be banned from the camp.
And now for the
remedy. The Chicago doctor told me that he had ordered the camp cook to bake a
huge apple cobbler and pour pure honey all over the top of it. This deep-dish
delicacy would be fed to Ali one hour before fight time. The prevailing thought
was that it would "put gas in Ali's tank."