The two also differ in outlook over how to train and fight. Until the Ali match, Spinks showed an unwillingness to explore the mysteries of the jab. Until Ali, the Spinks style was like an iron ball smashing into a condemned building; just keep pounding until the whole thing is leveled.
"You gotta jab," ordered Solomon. "You gotta have balance. You gotta dance."
"Sissy stuff," scoffed Spinks.
Whatever the champion undertakes, he does with enthusiasm and, to Solomon's dismay, usually to excess. It is as though Spinks were trying to cram everything he missed as a child into the hours he now has. For him it is perfectly natural to dance all night and to sleep all day. He has been known to wander into the gym hours late. But once there, he drives himself without letup. Because of his training habits, Spinks has been accused of shorting himself on labor. That, he says, is just another myth.
"I have trained hard all my career," Spinks says. "I trained hard because I was scared. When I came out of the Marines and turned pro it was life and death for me. If I didn't make it I knew what I had to go back to, what was waiting for me. I came from poorness and I never want to go back to poorness. Sometimes Sam Solomon has told me I am training too hard. But I train my way, the only way I know. I train because if you have ever been where I have been, you are always scared you may have to go back."
The relationship between the young fighter and the old trainer has become something like that of father and son. A man of the old school, Solomon doesn't pretend to understand Spinks; nor, for that matter, does Spinks understand Solomon. But somehow they make it all work.
The afternoon after his long wait into the night for the return of his car, Solomon sat at the dining room table of his brick two-story row house, his emotions a mixture of paternal anger and almost maternal concern.
"I'm tired, so tired," Solomon said, sighing. "Up all night waiting for Leon, didn't get no sleep. Sat there waiting, waiting for him to return. The kid's really something. Does it all the time. Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. Always late for something."
A small smile brightened his moon face. "But then he told me, 'I'll do better. I will. I'll try.' I hope so. When he's training I have to start hours earlier just to wake him up. To get him to the gym, I have to wake him at noon to get him there by 3. For roadwork, I gotta get up at 5 to get him running by 8. He has no conception of time. And sleep? Man, does that boy sleep. One day I thought I would have to call the police to break down his door. I knew Leon was home but no one answered the phone. I let it ring and ring and ring. Nothing disturbs him. He'll fall asleep just sitting on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. Or he'll walk in circles for a while and then sit down and fall asleep. When he goes to the bathroom and he don't come out after a while, you know he's fallen asleep.
"But when he does get awake, there's no stopping him. Out all night. Loves to dance. Jumping from one thing to another. He's like Ali in that respect. Impetuous. Only Ali don't do this disco thing like Leon does. Even when he trains he goes overboard. Can't get him to quit. Anybody that says Leon don't train hard is crazy."