"I had it rough, all right," he says, in his soft-breeze island accent, a peculiar blend of his father's Swedish-American and his mother's Portuguese-Hawaiian speech, annealed on Kalihi's streets. "See how I talk? I only went to the eighth grade. Now I gotta get educated." When Bobo is at ease, he likes to joke, about himself as much as anyone, and when he draws a laugh it's like winning a round. Grinning, he'll nudge a friend, feeling his way to acceptance, and will say with a wink, "See, I got?whaddya call it??personality! I'm a very likeable fellow."
THE MONASTIC APPROACH
A week before a fight, even a local one, Bobo kisses his wife and kids goodbye and moves in with Flaherty. Once again he becomes just another member of Sid's humble flock, washing his share of the dishes, waiting in line for chow or for a shower, binding his own hands, and rooming with one of the newest additions to the stable. There is a monastic quality to a Flaherty training setting which the manager's drab clothes, always including a button-up gray sweater, accentuates. Everything is on a subdued plane, conversation above all. An occasional movie is allowed, but more often Sid and his boys will retire to their own private corners, to read or watch television. Flaherty has no interest in any sport but boxing. He has seen one football game and half a minor league baseball game in his life. Someone once called him the Branch Rickey of boxing, and, in all seriousness, Flaherty blandly asked, "Who's Rickey?" In fact, the two men are somewhat alike in bearing. If Rickey is deaconesque, Flaherty is sextonish.
Olson approves of these quiet pre-bout surroundings, and of Flaherty's dictum against prima donna treatment for him as a champion. "That's how it should be," says Bobo, "I'm no special type."
"How long are you going on fighting, Bobo?" the visitor asks.
Bobo grins. "Depends," he says.
"Depends on what?" says the visitor.
"On the loot," says Bobo.
To an extent, of course, it will now also depend on Flaherty's relations with his new partner, Mr. Norris. To just what extent will be a matter of considerable interest, particularly to those who love boxing as a clean sport in which man and muscle and heart decide the issue. Under the terms of his contract with Norris, Sid has the right to say yes or no to his sometime sidekick on projected bouts. The time and the manner in which he exercises this right of veto may be somewhat less predictable than that of Jacob Malik in the United Nations?but no less interesting and important for the boxing world.