"Are you going to turn pro?" Ali asked.
"I don't know," Leonard said.
"If you decide to turn pro, don't sell yourself," Ali told him. "Hold on to everything you got. Don't be like me."
Naturally, he turned at once to Morton. With Trainer's help, they decided to test the water, to find out what promoters and managers had to offer. Before Leonard had even decided to make the move they listened to a proposal from promoter Don King. But they didn't like his offer—a multiyear contract that King could renew if, during the last year of the agreement, Leonard were ranked in the Top Ten. "It locked Ray in tight," Trainer says. "The dollars were not significant, and I didn't like the renewal clause." Then came discussions with Abe Pollin, the owner of the Washington Bullets and Capitals, to see what he could do. Pollin's group initially offered Leonard a $25,000 loan. Later, Pollin made a second offer, sweetened this time with a $200,000 bonus. "In either case, they would've owned a part of Ray," Trainer says.
At the time, Trainer knew nothing at all about boxing. Morton had brought Leonard to Trainer after the Olympics simply because he trusted him. The two had met playing Softball. Trainer has a general practice that he runs out of an unassuming second-story office in Silver Spring, Md., a wealthy Washington suburb. With no ties to the fight game, he was precisely the sort of man Morton was looking for to act as Leonard's counsel. At the start Trainer had no idea what Leonard might be worth as a fighter. He suggested $20,000 a year.
"A hundred thousand," said Morton.
Trainer blinked. "Are you kidding?"
"No, I'm not."
"Can the kid fight?"
"Before his career is over, he'll be the biggest thing in boxing," Morton said.