Meanwhile, at Newman's urging, Bowe moved his family into a modest house in comfortable Fort Washington, Md., outside of Washington, D.C. Oh, there was one thing, Bowe told Newman. The yard had to have a fence so that his children (there is a third now, Brenda Joyce) wouldn't get lost in the bewildering vast-ness of suburbia. They must be safe. A house with a fence having been chosen, Bowe went back to Brownsville, walked the 1½ miles to the housewares factory to take his mother her lunch, and told her supervisor he was giving two weeks' notice for Dorothy. She was going to move in with him. It was his dream—a desperate one—to make his family whole. Today, on top of his TV, as a kind of shrine, are pictures of Brenda and Henry.
Newman has run a calculated campaign on behalf of Bowe. Seeing how Sugar Ray Leonard has benefited from not being tied to one promoter, Newman has kept Bowe from Don King and the rest. Nobody holds options on him. That has proved costly. Until Newman put together a limited partnership of investors, he had to shell out $250,000 of his own money to keep Bowe going. Why so much? You would hate to call it a conspiracy, but Newman discovered that to get Bowe on certain cards, he had to pay not just his own boxer's purse but the opponent's and some promotional overhead as well. Bowe wasn't even fighting for free; he was paying for the opportunity.
Newman brought Bowe along slowly, matching him with confidence-builders before allowing him to face Pinklon Thomas and Cooper. Newman hopes the payoff is at hand, perhaps in 18 months. Even before that, he thinks, Bowe's marquee value could force a $25 million non-title fight, something like the unsanctioned Michael Spinks-Gerry Cooney bout of 3½ years ago. Bowe's widely watched two-round knockout of Cooper, on the Holyfield-Buster Douglas card, was more of a promotional tool than a victory. The crispness of the knockout—"Look, here's Bert trying to double-jab, and here's my right [Bowe is chuckling as he watches a tape of his fight with Cooper]. Good old Bert"—is a credential the WBC can't provide.
In the meantime Bowe's life as a contender is pleasant enough. Five months ago Newman allowed Bowe to use part of the $60,000 purse he received for beating Art Tucker to splurge on a Jeep Cherokee, which has been customized into a convertible. Bowe tools around Maryland in it, calling up friends on his car phone as he passes by their houses—"Can you see the Sunoco station from your window? O.K., I'm in the right lane.... "—and then going home to wash it or to play with his kids or to talk to his mother, safely ensconced in a basement bedroom.
However, he still has much to do. He wants to buy a BMW 735i and his own apartment complex back in Brownsville. "How many apartments you think are in a complex?" he says. "Well, let's figure it out. Six floors to a building, 12 apartments to a floor and four buildings—288 apartments. I remember back in '87, walking through a complex just like that, thinking, If they ever sold that complex, I'd like to buy it for my family. Put all my brothers and sisters, relatives and friends in it, everybody close to me, put 'em right there. Like a big happy family."
Good old Bowe.