And no, says Holmes, he hasn't forgotten all those days and nights he spent with Giachetti on the road. "I like Richie a lot, probably more than he thinks I do," Holmes says. "He helps me a lot. We slept in the same rooms. We sacrificed many days away from home. But I don't owe him nothing. He sacrificed for the same thing I did. And what was that? Money. He's been well taken care of. He's made a million dollars. I paid my way."
Holmes still is paying. After scratching and struggling all those years, in fact, he is paying his way all over Easton. He has committed himself financially to the city, not only as a taxpayer, but also as a builder, benefactor and businessman. Holmes has made the town his own because he likes it, feeling comfort in its familiar places. He knows many of its inhabitants and can walk down a street without being hounded for autographs. He likes the town square, where farmers come to sell their produce, where townspeople congregate and where the Civil War memorial, a stone obelisk crowned by a bugler, rises high in the air.
Holmes likes towns with formal centers. "Every town should have a circle," he says. "When you go to a town and don't see a circle, you wonder, 'Damn, what's wrong here?' "
The whole Holmes clan, Flossie and her sons and daughters, still lives in Easton or nearby. When home, Holmes talks to his mother every day, either calling or swinging by, and on holidays the family usually gets together. He has bought his mother a house and helped Jake buy one next door to hers. "I can handle any situation that comes up, because I have my family with me," Holmes says. "Nobody bothers us. People don't mess with me. I'm not black anymore because I've got a few dollars. When you got some money you're not considered as black. We can do what we want to do, go where we want to go. I can be comfortable with my family, give my kids a good education—something I didn't have—give them opportunities. I been damn near around the world, and I wouldn't live outside this valley. When I run in the morning, kids going to school see me and say, 'Good morning, champ!' I'm satisfied here doing what I'm doing."
What he's doing, for one thing, is building a $500,000 showplace of a home set on 2½ acres of wooded land, a refuge befitting a man worth more than $3 million and looking forward to retiring on the interest. It has nine bathrooms, two Jacuzzis, four bedrooms, a 4½-car garage and an indoor swimming pool shaped like a boxing glove. One of the Jacuzzis is in the thumb.
Moving through bare studs, beneath the framed-in skylights and among the skeletons of rooms-to-be, Holmes sounds like a tour guide. "Moving right along," he says, stepping smartly down unfinished hallways, through a series of doorframes. "This is the master bedroom, here's the powder room and bath.... Over here's a sewing room, for my wife to sew.... Here's the kitchen, where I'll get fat.... Moving right along.... Here's my den, bulletproof and soundproof.... Here's the skylight, where the sun shines in." The Holmes family—Larry and his wife, Diane, and their 7-month-old baby, Kandy Larie—hopes to move in next month, shortly after Holmes gets back from the Ali fight. He is also fixing up bedrooms for Misty, 12, and Lisa, 11, the daughters he fathered as a teen-ager.
"I can do anything I want here," Holmes says. "I can swim here, get in my steam room here, lift weights and go roller skating on the tennis courts. I wanted my place like this; it's a dream come true."
He has also wanted, for many years, to own a disco, so this year he bought one almost ready-made, for $135,000, about a block from the town square. He plans to call it Round One and to install his 29-year-old brother, Bob, a serious-minded baker, as its manager. The disco is also scheduled to be ready this fall. The day after he bought it, Holmes was standing behind the bar and looking about the deserted rooms. Winking, Holmes slapped the bar and shouted to an empty room, "All right, everybody, a drink on the house!"
Bob Holmes' quiet voice carried from the rear of the place. "No, no," he said. "No drinks on the house."
Holmes has also spent $100,000 to buy land and build a gymnasium on it. The foundation has been laid, and it, too, will open this fall. "I don't know what I'm going to do with it," Holmes says. "I'm just putting it up. It's not to make money. How are you going to make money from a gymnasium?" Most likely, he says, it will be used as a kind of local recreation center for kids, perhaps as a meeting place for adults. "It'll have a boxing program," Holmes says. "And an under-21 club. Dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. Kids don't have nowhere to go."