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"O.K.," I said.
"It didn't affect your brain, did it?" he asked.
The right side of my face smiled. "It only attacked the left side of my face," I said.
"You've got to keep punchin'," he said. "You're an important guy."
I thanked him. And then, unable to resist the chance, as someone who had grown up in a rabid Marciano household, I said, "Do me a favor, Muhammad. Please tell my father that you could have beaten Rocky Marciano."
"That goes without saying!" he said, and hung up the phone.
The call made my first week of convalescence. Something else made my second. I knew where we should go in the investigation—most of the signs were pointing straight at King—but how were we to get there? And then one afternoon it dawned on me. I sat up like a bolt: The Abscam sting had used closed-circuit TV and undercover agents to ferret out corruption in Congress, and the same sort of scheme was the only way to get inside boxing. And I had just the guy to get us started. That winter I had met a smooth-talking hipster who had been around the fight game for years. He had been convicted of smuggling huge quantities of drugs into the U.S. I can't identify this man by his real name because his life would be endangered if I did so. At the time, he was awaiting sentencing, and it took five weeks of paper-shuffling to bring him to New York.
This man—let's call him Bobby—knew practically everyone: Giachetti, King and innumerable fighters. He was bright, well-spoken and enthusiastic, and he knew that if he performed well as a cooperating witness and behaved himself, I would vouch for him come sentencing time. His first test came on April 8, 1981, when he and I (I was undercover) met with the two USBC figures, Lawrence and his fighter, House. Bobby knew them both and had invited them to New York from North Carolina, telling them that he was a promoter, that I was his money man and that to make our fighters look good, we needed sweet scientists who knew how to go into the water. We set up a closed-circuit TV system in a room in the Halloran House Hotel on Manhattan's East Side, and Bobby played before the camera like some daytime soap opera star.
It was here that Lawrence admitted that House had thrown his USBC fight against Gant—although in the eyes of fight experts, House was so clearly overmatched that no fix would have been necessary. It was also here that Lawrence said that he could provide other fighters to take dives. In addition, he said that he had protected King and others involved in the tournament by lying to the FBI about corruption in the USBC. At one point, Lawrence said that House had taken a dive in his Jan. 28, 1978, fight against Thomas Hearns. When I started to laugh, House looked at me indignantly and said, "What's so funny?" I said, "You had to take a dive against Thomas Hearns? Are you crazy?" House, very seriously, explained, "It wasn't whether or not I could beat Hearns—I was there to lose."
Bobby wasn't the only one working for us that spring. There was also Harold Smith. Before appearing in front of the Crown Royal grand jury, Smith had made his taped phone call to Giachetti, and later Smith met Giachetti in a room at the Sheraton, where I had hidden a tape recorder. Smith was brilliant. He sat Giachetti right next to the recording device and pumped Giachetti like a farmer at the well. When the subject came up of why Giachetti was in New York, my heart jumped when he said, "I had to meet with the Mafia people to discuss how much King got from the Ali-Holmes fight [in which Holmes beat Ali in Las Vegas on Oct. 2, 1980]."