POWER AND POSITIVE THINKING
The man in the white T shirt pasting Billy Tisdale is Floyd Patterson, the heavyweight champion of the world. Tisdale is one of Patterson's transient sparring partners and, as Floyd views things from the top with gracious, thoughtful equanimity, Tisdale views things from the bottom, impatient and rueful. Shortly after this right hand, Tisdale was felled with a left hook to the ribs. "Thanks for watching me work out," Patterson told his audience with a gentle wave. "If I wasn't hurt I wouldn't have been lying there, now would I?" said Tisdale, bitterly.
Patterson, who fights Ingemar Johansson this month, sat in his small room and apologized for the unmade beds. He put a Jackie Gleason LP on for background ("I like semiclassical music") and stirred a mug of hot tea. He combed his hair with vigorous strokes and said he hoped he hadn't sprayed anyone with water. Then he went for a walk. He has two walks: one he calls his "thinking walk," on which he thinks about "boxing and life in general"; the other, his "observing walk." Of his thinking walk he says: "When you walk down that road, you get the country feeling. The houses are spaced out. That's really a nice walk in nice shade. I wonder why you think better walking than lying down?"
On this afternoon Patterson took his observing walk, which is down a well-traveled road from Ehsan's Training Camp in Chatham Township, N.J. He said he would not think about Johansson until the week before the fight. He said he would start dreaming about him then, too. "I dreamt of the Moore fight," he said, "but the dream never finished."
He also talked about his manager, Cus D'Amato. "He makes mistakes," he said, "but the more they try to turn me against him, the more his quality comes out. Lucky he isn't a woman. I might have married him." It is such statements of faith that make Cus want to cry. Floyd laughed.