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THE MANAGER TELLS HOW IT IS
When you get a fighter, you got to sit down with him and explain there can't be two generals in the army," the Manager remarked one recent Friday morning as he walked down Broadway to the New York State Athletic Commission offices on West 47th Street for the noon weighin. One of the Manager's fighters was going that night in Madison Square Garden, and, according to the agreement I had worked out with the Manager, I was to accompany him and the Fighter around for the day.
"I have to tell a fighter that there's one general—me," the Manager continued. "I have to tell a fighter that there's one soldier—him. All he has to do is get in shape. I get the opponents. An opponent is someone I believe my fighter can whip. That's what an opponent is. Well, anyways, I line up the opponents, and my fighter fights them. That's the way we start out. If my fighter fights a bum even, I don't let him know it. As far as I'm concerned, the fighter knows nothing. He don't need to know nothing but how to get in shape."
"What happens when you get a smart fighter?" I asked.
"One thing you got to learn," said the Manager. "If a kid goes into the gym and says he wants to be a fighter, you know he isn't smart. If he was, he wouldn't be there. Now that don't mean there are no smart fighters. There are smart fighters. But they're smart about fighting. They're not smart about anything else. A kid that maybe you would figure is smart about things other than fighting is not smart to me. To me, he's a wise kid. And wise kids you have to watch out for. That's why you tell him in the beginning that you're the general and he's the soldier. You get everything straight then. You can be okay with him, but only up to a point. The nicer you are to a fighter, the less he respects you. When he don't respect you, he don't take orders."
"What about your boy tonight? Is he a smart fighter?"
"A real nice boy," said the Manager, shaking his head fondly. "A real nice boy. Quiet. Doesn't say much. A good boy. Maybe not much of a boxer, but a good puncher. A very good puncher."
"Is he going to win tonight?" I asked.
"I wish I knew," said the Manager. "This is a real tough fight for me. This is no opponent we're fighting tonight. This is a boxer, a very clever boxer. Very clever. But I figure we got a chance. All we need is have the other kid get sloppy and mix it. Then he busts him one. I hope anyways. If he wins tonight, I'll take on a few bums. I figure we're in if we win tonight. I'll tell you something. This fight's got me so jittery I'd put it in the bag if I could. At least I think I would. I would love to go in tonight if I had the officials."
"You mean you would fix it?" I asked.