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Bob Ottum
April 20, 1981
Adulation has come at last to Detroit's Thomas Hearns, and if his grandest visions of glory become reality, that will be bad news for Ray Leonard
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April 20, 1981

The Dreamer

Adulation has come at last to Detroit's Thomas Hearns, and if his grandest visions of glory become reality, that will be bad news for Ray Leonard

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The important thing for certain tinderbox precincts of Detroit is that Hearns can defuse potentially riotous situations merely by stepping out of the car and showing himself. "Right now, they're all saying, 'Hey, man, it's Tommy Hearns!' " he says. "And they come around to talk and jive, and there's a whole lot of hand-slapping. But...." His voice trails off, and he smooths out an Eisenhower-style police jacket, trying to figure out how to explain and yet not sound like he's speaking against his own people. "But see, it's still cool out now, and the kids aren't as bad when the weather's cool. It'll be getting hot out there pretty soon, and then the kids come outdoors and there's nothing to do—and it can get very mean in certain parts of town. So I want to talk to as many as I can, you know, like try to cool them down and tell them to keep trying."

Steward shakes his head in wonder at it. "Tommy could be laying up there in that fancy bedroom of his big, fancy house, with his bodyguard and all, and be perfectly safe," he says. "This way, as a volunteer cop, he could just accidentally run upside somebody on the street—some wild man—and get himself shot up. But, like I said, Tommy isn't scared of nobody, and he knows what he's got to do as a citizen."

So it seems. And it would be tempting at that to lay up there, as Steward puts it, in that big, fancy new house in suburban Detroit, with the bodyguard and the houseman. Not to mention the two Corvettes, the Caddie, the Chevy Nova street racer and the Rolls-Royce in the driveway. "Don't forget," says Hearns, "that all them other vehicles are just cars. Just cars. But the Rolls! Man, the Rolls is an auto-mo-bile."

The house was acquired just a few weeks ago: a big, low, rambling modern place on three acres of land. A swimming pool will be installed in a wing of the house—Hearns is considering a $100,000 design that would be shaped like a boxing glove.

The house is expensively, if sparsely, furnished at the moment; Hearns prefers to do these things slowly, after much thought. But there are big, poufy spreads on the beds—and a nickel-plated automatic pistol within easy reach atop Tommy's nightstand. In the game room there are a pool table, a pinball machine, an electronic space-war game and a beer cooler. Another reason the decorating goes slowly, possibly, is that there's no Mrs. Hearns. Tommy is still holding try-outs, as they say.

This is, as noted earlier, the good time in the life of the dreamer. Even if things get worse later, they'll never be able to take these times away. The Leonard fight will leave Hearns a multimillionaire—but he already has the Gucci gear bag. A prediction about the fight here might be gratuitous, but to take the Kronk gym outlook and clean it up slightly: Sugar Ray had better watch his tail. It seems entirely possible that this tall, sinewy young man will unify the title, just as it seems possible that he'll go on to dominate progessively heavier divisions.

So, let's see a smile, dreamer. Say—body shot.

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