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Hodge was dressed and wrapped in the dressing room on the other side of the stage. The room is a big one, lined with lockers, smelling like every other dressing room where athletes leave their sweat. Boxers waiting to go on jogged lightly, loosening up. Ray Powell (145 pounds) of Dodge City, who had just been knocked out by Harry Sabo (145 pounds) of Wichita in 1:45 of the first round, lay full length on a bench about 10 feet from Dan, recovering. The victim's condition apparently did nothing to discourage Danny. Dan was dressed in clean white trunks, obviously making their debut with him. His blue robe with the five interlocked circles of the Olympic insignia he bore at Melbourne was thrown around his shoulders. His long-jawed face was as politely inexpressive as it always is. His trainer, Curt Kennedy, worked over the already well-wrapped hands.
Beginning in the basement
From the well-fitted protective cup under his new trunks to the freshly cleaned robe Dan was as well and carefully dressed for boxing as any man ever will be but he was as out of place as Shirley Temple in a sex movie. Nothing is quite as grimy as 10 amateur bouts on a weekday night in a Kansas town. If there is a bottom rung on the boxing ladder, Dan was in the basement below it, but this strong, quiet, competent, inexperienced man, this deeply religious, nonsmoking, non-drinking, wife-and-family-loving, superbly honest amateur athlete just was not touched by any of the aroma.
"How's the cold, Dan?" On the day before the fight, his cold was bad enough to require a shot of penicillin.
"How are you feeling?"
"Good. Real good."
"You think you might be tempted to use a wrestling hold when you get in there tonight?"
He smiled forgivingly. "No, there's no chance of it. The two aren't alike at all."
"Before you went to boxing had you ever hit a man, really hit him to hurt?"