In his hotel suite the champion had grown pensive. In other places men were wheeling and making deals that might bring him millions. But all he wanted at the moment was a little peace, a little time to enjoy the championship. He was in Des Moines with his wife Nova and the oldest of his three children.
Only two others were with him: Mike Flagg, bodyguard and personal secretary and a close friend—"he makes me laugh," says Leon—and Chet Cummings, a public-relations man on loan from Top Rank. His brother Michael, usually not far away, had chosen to remain in Philadelphia.
Soft music played in the background. Closing his eyes, Spinks listened. Then he broke the silence. Eyes still closed, he said, "I've got just two more goals. One, I want to retire with the title as a millionaire. And, two, I want to be a preacher. I want to help other people. God gave me strength and love and care, and I want to pass on what He gave to me to other people. Ali wants to preach his thing; I want to preach mine. They don't sound the same but I don't think they are very different. We all believe in the same thing, we just take different routes getting there."
He opened his eyes and smiled.
"I don't know if being champion will change my life or not," he said. "It's all new to me. I'm going to have to learn what it's like being a champion."