Emile grows afraid of sleep. Afraid of silence. Afraid of alone. Here comes the hate mail from Latinos convinced that Emile ended Paret's life on purpose. Here come the questions about Paret's death from every interviewer from now till kingdom come. Here comes the public outcry to banish boxing, and the seven-man commission appointed by New York governor Nelson Rockefeller to investigate the tragedy and the sport. There go the fights on TV.
Sixteen weeks later, at lunch on the day of his next fight, against Ralph Dupas, Emile buries his head in his hands. When he backs Dupas into that corner, Paret's coffin, he jumps back as if shocked and lets the contender escape. Emile wins by guile in 15 rounds. "After Paret," he'll admit years later, "I never wanted to hurt a guy again. I was so scared to hit someone. I was always holding back."
He wants to quit, but where else can he get what boxing gives him? How else can he play father, put siblings and nephews and nieces through college, pay poor people's rents, buy friends cars, outfit kids' baseball teams, buy meals for the homeless? Kids trail him everywhere. He becomes the Pied Piper of Chelsea, the Manhattan neighborhood near Clancy's gym, even takes home a pair of white twins from their quarreling parents while the couple iron out their differences. He doesn't just give to people. He gives his last.
He turns on the glitz. Brand-new Lincolns, sprinkled with glitter. Seven-dozen suits, from baby blue to chartreuse, and double-breasted red sweaters festooned with white buttons, mother of pearl. Hmmm. But, hey, he's from the Caribbean; those tropical guys all love bright colors. Big black leather bag strapped over his shoulder, tiny white poodle cradled in his arm. But, hey, it's the '60s: Is he being gay ... or feeling groovy? "I'm nobody's faggot," he says to the few who screw up the courage to ask. But what does that mean?
Women keep flocking to him, and Emile seems happy to accommodate them all. A singer at the Concord Hotel named Ce'Vara gives him a picture of herself and signs it: 1. God. 2. Earth. 3. Emile. Not a bad ranking for any boxer. They're firecrackers, these ladies with whom he'll merengue or mambo or mashed potato the night away. He cuts a single for Columbia Records entitled A Little Bit More.
She brings out the tiger in me
She makes me feel like a man
And she tries so hard to please me
Anytime that she can
You know the old saying. Where there's smoke ... well, does there have to be fire? No, there doesn't. That's what Emile's co-manager Howie Albert concludes. Otherwise why would he have blown even more smoke right up the writers' nostrils--the myth that Emile's job, in Albert's millinery, is hat designer? Why had he brought a dozen bonnets to Emile's press conference before the Gaspar Ortega fight in '61 and beamed as the flashbulbs popped and Emile placed the fuzziest one of all on Ortega's head for the cameras? Rest easy, America. This Milliner Is No Sissy. Honest, that's the caption beneath the photograph the Associated Press sent across the land. And Emile, God bless him, rose to the occasion, actually began to design a few chapeaus and pick up the lingo. "The Jackie Kennedy pillbox will remain in vogue," he told the Los Angeles Times. "But hats will come in a greater variety of shapes and materials than ever this year. We're featuring maribu, ostrich, novelty braids, feathers and velours. With the bouffant coiffure still in vogue look for higher pillboxes." Howwwwieeeee....