GOTR 1: Prologue – Scene 5


Enter the Spirit of America & her angels

The Spirit of America shall speak

Sing, Muse, of the unfetter’d Liberty
Forepromis’d of the Founding Brotherhood
When all made equal, equal all shall be
Sing on a banjo string of golden twine
The miracle & mystery of tales
By poets sung, great lives mythologis’d
Sing me a story that could e’er transcend
The lightest seasons of convincive art,
As here, as erst upon an antique stage,
Thro’ intimacies of imitancy
Adorning this gymnic Conchordia,
Rare souls yet rouse Humanity to ken
Fair prospers capabilities within
Each, all of us, to be a living God
Admir’d & worship’d widely ‘cross the world
My golden theme such giants of the globe,
Melded ankle-deep, brutal gang of foes,
As much excitement as a night can bear
As much commotion as a land can stand
Its theatre, single squares of canvas
Enbounded by flexible ropery,
Where hang the golden balances that show
The fates of uncommon, contending men –
With equal weights are tested destinies
One will sink low if heavy with defeat
Or high ascend if bless’d with victory
As greatest eras tell the greatest tales
I’ll show my spirit in its purest light,
Thro legends of Ali, Frazier, Foreman
What wars they fought & in what cauldron brew’d
The heady mix we call America
All fully cook’d & flavour’d, Civil Rights
& Vietnam, Electric Ladyland
& my prime hero, Muhammad Ali,
Admire him as model American,
Who work’d hard, kept his faith, led the planet
& as he goes fed, cloth’d his family,
With honest toil, made charitable acts
The supplementive business of his life
& so, to tell his story, let us sing

Welcome, yes welcome, ye Gods of the Ring


When God put a fist on the hand of Sonny Liston
Form’d a fright (FRIGHT)-ful lethality
When Cassius Clay blew that Big Bear away
It was the flight (FLIGHT) of immortality

We don’t believe what we’re seeing
Got no right to call them human beings
As they fight their way thro mortal ceilings
As the angels sing

Welcome ye Gods of the Ring

When Smoking Joe Frazier met Muhammad Ali
It was the Fight (FIGHT) of the Century
When Foreman floor’d Frazier the talk of all Jamaica
Was the height (HEIGHT) of brutality

We don’t believe what we’re seeing
Got no right to call them human beings
As they fight their way thro mortal ceilings
As the angels sing

Welcome ye Gods of the Ring

When Foreman took a tumble the Rumble in the Jungle
Was a night (For) all Humanity
& man what a killer the Thrilla in Manilla
Saw the might (MIGHT) of humanity

We don’t believe what we’re seeing
Got no right to call them human beings
As they fight their way thro mortal ceilings
As the angels sing

Welcome ye Gods of the Ring


Rome, 1960: The Light Heavyweight Championship final

Well, that’s the bell for the end of round two
For those of you back home just tuning in
Cassius Clay of the United States
Fights Poland’s Zigzy Pietrzykowski
In the grand final of the Olympic
Light Heavyweight Championship in Rome
Where everybody has predicted,
Ringside, a tough battle, & so its prov’d
Tho’ Cassius Clay, I would say’s, winning
There’s the bell, & our fighters both come out
For the third & final round, Cassius
Clay of the United States in the light trunks
Pietrzykowski of Poland in dark
Both fighters weighed in at 178pounds
Pietrzykowski is starting to press
Told by his quarter he must score more points
Cassius won the last round easily
Has proven to be the class of these games
Coupling blinding hand-speed with brilliant
Footwork, in winning clear-cut decisions
In previous bouts, & confident looks
Knowing the only thing that bars his way
To the Olympic Gold stands before him
But corner’d on the ropes, Cassius piles
Pressure on, fair points accumulating,
Tho’ Clay a vernal sprigling of eighteen
He has already fought one-thirty fights
& only lost just one, to the rugged
Tony Madigan of Australia
But, two days back, in the semi-final,
Cassius Clay was granted his revenge
Upon that very foe, unanimous,
But now Pietrzykowski comes on strong
He knows that he’s behind on points, & Clay,
Careful must be with this cagey south paw
But Zigzy’s missing badly, lets tribute
This to the lightning speed of Cassius
Whose counter-punches like rapiers flick
That now into an avalanche have swarm’d
Clay is way ahead on points & knows it
Confident he’s only moments away
From winning gold, there’s his famous shuffle
& it’s all over, the end of the fight
Both fighters gave their all, three gruelling rounds
Of torrid fighting, now Cassius Clay
A very weary fighter is indeed
In a few moments the judge’s votes
Will tallied be, the victor will receive
Amateur Boxing’s loftiest award
The golden medal of the golden games
& the decision goes to… we’re waiting…
Cassius Clay of the United States
As Pietrzykowski graciously
Congratulates the masterful display
Of boxing just exhibited by Clay
The podium is carried to the ring
On which the fighters receive rewards
For fair combat at the supreme summit
Where Cassius Clay takes the highest step
In this same place where Sulla mov’d the Games
First, from its ancient sanctuary in Greece,
During the Mithridatic Wars, today
It sees the golden medal nobly hung
Around the neck of our young champion
Zigzy Pietrzykowski wins silver
& now the bronze awarded to those men
Who lost their semi-finals, Anthony
Madigan, & Giulio Saraudi
& now, the national anthem of
The United Stated of America

The anthem is play’d – Ali steps off the podium & addresses the crowd

Muhammad Ali
To make America the greatest is my goal,
So, I beat the Russians, and I beat the Pole,
& for the USA won this medal of gold,
The Italians said: “You’re Greater than the Cassius of old´´.
We like your name & we like your game,
Make Rome your home if you will.
I said, I appreciate your kind hospitality,
But the US of A is my country still,
Where I’m due a glorious welcome
When I’m back in Louisville.

Scene 2

A diner in Louisville – enter Cassius Clay in his Olympic jacket wearing the gold medal round his neck

Hey, man, a cheeseburger, shake & fries please

{after pausing}
We don’t serve negroes

I beg your pardon

We don’t serve negroes

Well, I don’t eat them either, just give me
A milkshake, a cheeseburger & some fries

Diner 1
Your kind aint welcome in here, boy

My kind – you mean the American kind
For whom I’ve just won the Olympic Gold
Look upon my jacket, what does it say
Let me spell it for you U,S of A,
I fought for this country, won this medal
& now, being hungry, I’m gonna eat

Diner 2
We don’t serve niggers

Ah man

You heard him
It’s time to leave

You’re really doing this

Diner 1
A negro prize-fighter’s still a negro

Enter Diner manager who talks to the waitress

Prize-fighter! Have you seen the prize I won
I am the light heavyweight champ
Of all the world, made Louisville famous
They’ll praise it as the home of Cassius Clay
My family has lived here centuries

Diner 1
As slaves, boy, don’t you ever forget it

Slave, you still think I’m a slave, after this
{showing the gold medal}
No slave would ever have travel’d to Rome
A free man, then to return in triumph
The national anthem singing in his ears

Diner Manager
Look Cassius, you’re gonna have to go
You’re causing a scene, call the police, Kelsey
But things might happen before they arrive
Whose consequences, well, let’s say, might hurt

You threat’ning me

Diner Manager
We are stating a fact
Segregation’s the law – you cannot eat
Downtown, you know that – you should go, go now

Diner 2
This wont be no Greensboro lunch counter
Nor wade in at the all white beaches
Why don’t just fuck your as off nigger

Cassius Clay
I see your sorry faces full of fear
Grimacing at solitary thought
Of the concession of a single inch
Of segregated ground, that
Separate but Equal stuff is nonsense
They tried to yank a seat from Rosa Parks
But she said no, soon all Montgomery
Would ride busses of pure integration,
Then Lizzie Eckford march’d thro Little Rock
In defiance of volcanoes of hate
Spewing hurl’d spittle, garbage & fruit
Reprisals, recriminations, hardships,
To realize a great society
Which drove our forefathers idealised
Philosophies of fair democracy
The doctrine of equality is just
The leaven wedg’d in American thought
Endowd with unalienable rights

Diner Manager
{picking up a gun}
You had better get out of here, now, boy

Cassius Clay storms out

Diner 2
Olympic Champion, hah

Diner 1
Coffee, please

Diner Manager
Coming right up

You finish’d with that, Hank

Diner 2 nods, then carries on nonchalantly

Scene 3

Louiseville – a bridge over the Ohio River – enter Cassius Clay

Cassius Clay
What is this metal with enchantress guile
Seducing men to battle for her glint
I train’d so hard to press her to my chest
& kiss her as Star Spangl’d banner chim’d
& all for what, where other nations laud
Their champions, my own land cannot stand
Their champions to not be spotless white
When any backwards bipod of the woods
Can claim superiority oer me!
If that’s the case, then, what is this trinklet
This pointless tryst, this shambles of action,
This medal of gold – the home of the brave?
Yes, but land of the free, how laughable
I am still a slave in the white man’s eyes
This medal changes nothing, let it fall
Into this sunken river-bed, there stay
Forever in the dirt of my disgust

Clay throws his gold medal into the Ohio River / Enter Ishmael Sabakhan

Ishmael Sabakhan
Hello Brother as salam alaykum

Cassius Clay
A salam alaykum

Ishmael Sabakhan
Its Arabic, means Peace Be Upon You,
A greeting made by Muslims on meeting

Cassius Clay

Ishmael Sabakhan
Yes, I am a Muslim brother
A member of the Nation of Islam

Cassius Clay
The Nation of what?

Ishmael Sabakhan

Cassius Clay
Who are they

Ishmael Sabakhan
We are believers in mighty Allah
The one true god, & being worshipful
Within this white man’s prison, we insist
Of being only black, the Christians
Ignore the tenets of their own prophet
Dismiss the dictates of their holy book
Becoming robbers, murderers, rapists
Enslavers of their fellow Human Race
We in the Nation of Islam reject
The apparatus of their torrid schemes
Have built our own schools, universities
Cafes & kitchens, all built by the great
Elijah Muhammad, you heard of him

Cassius Clay
No, I aint

Ishmael Sabakhan
The Messenger’s an honourable man
Before he came to us on pinions
Of sacred prophethood, blacks had no banks
Or stores, the fabric of society, but today
We are lifted from the gutter, dress’d well
No longer look like prostitutes & pimps
No drugs, no pork, no alcohol consume
& lead a better life, here man take this
{passing newspaper}

Cassius Clay
Muhammad Speaks

Ishmael Sabakhan
Elijah Muhammad
Great leader of the Nation of Islam
Nam’d after the first prophet of the faith
Have a read, see what you think

Cassius Clay
I will, thanks

Ishmael Sabakhan
So, what, you throw in the river, your face
Was full of anger, fury even, man

Cassius Clay
It was my golden medal, won in Rome

Ishmael Sabakhan
From the Olympics

Cassius Clay

Ishmael Sabakhan
Wait a minute
You’re Cassius Clay

Cassius Clay
I am he

Ishmael Sabakhan
Well, well
Nice to meet you son, but wherefore why throw
A thing hard won I the eyes of the world
Irreverent, into this obscure stream

Cassius Clay
I’d have whupp’d the world for America.
Thought I’d invented something with my gold
Thought I’m the champion of the whole world
& now can eat downtown, & so today
I went downtown with my big gold medal
Went in a restaurant, order’d some food
Then rejected out of hand – nothing’s chang’d

Ishmael Sabakhan
No, something has chang’d, your inner spirit
Lies, no longer beneath the White Man’s foot
My name is Ishmael, & ever since
I saw God had sent me a messenger
The hon’rable Elijah Muhammad,
I’ve held my head up proudly in the midst
Of all our deplorable enslavers
Despite our lowly station in their eyes
Countrymen only by geography
Just muse a moment on the world negro
It’s the white man’s name for stripping away
Our true Identity – a chinaman
Comes down this street, you know he’s from China,
A Cuban comes, you know he’s from Cuba
But what country’s ever been call’d negro
There is a nation, now, that dwells within
America, lip servicing its laws
But not its pathetic integrations,
We are not fearful of skull-cracking cops
Nor feel asham’d at segregation’s sin
We just don’t go those places

Cassius Clay
You speak good
I’ve seen it all my life, how they mistreat
My parents with a disrespecting howl
To them both, the fear of the retribution
Is greater than their fear of God

Ishmael Sabakhan
I know
& that can be explain’d, their God is false
& their Jesus never was a White man
The Church usurp’d the earth by fear & fraud
By bogus numbers of hypnotic songs
Compelling acolytes, in Jesus name,
Committance of all manner of evils
Too many of our black people worship
The god the White Man taught us, sing their songs
& when the songs are sung, they still beat us
& kill us, burn our homes, White Men are evil

Cassius Clay
Wait a minute – what about a baby
Tho’ white-born, its innocence is godlike

Ishmael Sabakhan

No brother, think of a pregnant lion
She’ll only sire a lion, not a lamb
That baby’s prejudice must come with time
As does a lion’s fangs & kill-sharp claws
No, white ones are devils, whose darkling souls
Will never cross the threshfold of the doors
Which keep our temples unpolluted, no
We are the Nation, & this is My Church


I’m seeking strength
I’m seeking beauty
I’m seeking the light of the lord
So, I can be a better man
Go out & be the best I can
So, I can light up the world with the love of a holy man

This is my church
What ya gonna do about it
This is my church
Why don’t you come on in

Christ, Confucius
Zeus, Medusas
Heed the Scriptures
Read the witches scars

I’m seeking truth
I’m seeking courage
I’m seeking the light of the world
So, I can feel all the ways of love
Go & see if im good enough
To go & light up the world with the love of a holy man

This is my church
What ya gonna do about it
This is my church
Why don’t you come on in

Saints & avatars
Mohammed, Mercury & Mars

Where is our love
where is our charity
Where is the mercy of god
Well the answer is in your heart
Better find it before it gets dark
So. you can light up the world with the love of a holy man

This is my church
What ya gonna do about it
This is my church
Why don’t you come on in

Asvaghosha, Nostradamus
Guru Nanak & Dalai Lamas all

This is my church
What ya gonna do about it
This is my church
Why dont you come on in

Cassius Clay
I like the way you sing, the things you say
There is a sweet enticement in your song

Ishmael Sabakhan
Hey, man, you still hungry

Cassius Clay
Yeah, I’m starving

Ishmael Sabakhan
Let me buy you lunch

Cassius Clay
I would like that

Ishmael Sabakhan

Cassius Clay
They begin to exit

Ishmael Sabakhan
So, you are a boxer

Cassius Clay
That is right, sir,
& I’m going to be the Heavyweight
Champion of the World

Ishmael Sabakhan
I’m sure you will

Scene 4

Miami / Fifth Street gym / Angelo Dundee is watching two boxers, Bobby & Larry, spar / Cassius Clay enters

Angelo Dundee
Larry, Larry, you are punching too low…
Bobby, what was that? don’t stand bollard still
Keep moving, boy, that’s it

Cassius Clay
Angelo, hey
Angelo Dundee, is that you

Angelo Dundee
That’s me
That was a lovely left hook, Larry, boy
The way you turn’d your shoulder was sublime

Cassius Clay
Hello, I’m Cassius Marcellus Clay,
Junior – & I am going to be
The Heavyweight Champion of the World

Angelo Dundee
Sure you are kid

Cassius Clay
No, sir, I am, I’ve won the Golden Gloves
Of Louisville Kentucky, & have won
The Panamerican Games, & have won
Olympic Gold in Rome, only the sky
Can limit my potential & my dreams
Which manifest themselves upon the belts
That mark the greatest fighter in the world

Angelo Dundee
Yeah, I know you now, seen you on TV
So, whaddaya want from me, Cassius

Cassius Clay
Turning pro, I’m gonna need a trainer
I just been out in California
At Archie Moore’s Salt Mine in Ramona
But it didn’t feel right

Angelo Dundee
Archie Moore

Cassius Clay

Angelo Dundee
That man is one helluva smart boxer
Why did ya leave, you get kick’d off the team

Cassius Clay
No, sir, we just didn’t, well, gel

Angelo Dundee
Why not

Cassius Clay
I mean, I was there to box, but I was
Made to brush floors, wash dishes,, stuff like that,
Always saying ‘respect your instructor
& fall in line with my learning process’
I’m not cut out for other men’s regimes
Dick Sadler heard my plaints, suggested you
As someone who could handle me, & said
You were a decent man, & knows the game,
That it’s all about the boxing with you
Who aint a bossy one, who’ll help
Channel a man’s natural energy
& even have some fun along a way
Of innovation, excellence, & art

Angelo Dundee
Is that right, sweet praise from Dickie Sandler
Indeed, & so, what do you want from me

Cassius Clay
Well, I want you to be my trainer, sir

Angelo Dundee
Is that right

Cassius Clay
Yes, sir, I’d like us to blend
As Minneapolis & St Pauls merge
With only Mississippi coil’d between

Angelo Dundee
Tell you what, boy, got your gear in that bag

Cassius Clay
I do

Angelo Dundee
Well, get chang’d, let’s see what you got

Cassius Clay
{shaking hands}
Ah, thank-you Angelo, thank you so much

Angelo Dundee
Haven’t done anything yet, go get chang’d
Then spar a couple of rounds with Bobby

Cassius Clay
Hey guys, I’m Cassius Clay

Angelo Dundee
The changing rooms are thro’ that door… hey boys
Larry, take a break, Bobby, that boy there
I want you to box with him a little

Sure, where he from

Angelo Dundee
Kentucky way

I recognise his face

Angelo Dundee
That’s Cassius Clay

Who won Olympic gold

Angelo Dundee
Yeah, that’s him

What’s he doing here

Angelo Dundee
Wants me to train him

Is that right

Angelo Dundee
Apparently so, we’ll see
What this kids got, but go easy on him
From amateur to pro’s a massive leap

Cassius Clay returns in his gym gear

Cassius Clay
Hey Angelo

Angelo Dundee
That was quick

Cassius Clay
Wait until
You see me in the ring, man, I am fast

Angelo Dundee
Alright, in you get

Cassius Clay
Thank you, sir

Angelo Dundee
This is Cassius Clay, & Cassius
This is Bobby Davis, touch fists & box

Cassius Clay & Bobby begin to box – Cassius Clay completely outboxes Bobby – Angelo & Larry watch on in awe / the boxers break

Scene 5

The Sands Hotel, Las Vegas – Gorgeous George the wrestler is in his changing rooms – there is a knock on the door

Gorgeous George
Enter if you love me

Cassius Clay
Hey, Gorgeous George

Gorgeous George
Yes, that’s me, & you are

Cassius Clay
Cassius Clay

Gorgeous George
Ah yes, the boxer, right here in Vegas
Fighting that big ol’ bear, Duke Sabedong
Let me take a look at you, ah, as fresh
As some young poet from Montmartre’s heights
So, what do you want

Cassius Clay
I hope you don’t mind,
But, I’m here in Las Vegas for a fight
& as a fellow ringsman thought I’d catch
Your bout of wrestling, woah, that was so good
Your arrogance is…

Gorgeous George
It’s not arrogance, boy, its showbusiness

Cassius Clay

Gorgeous George
Yeah, man, all that’s just an act

Cassius Clay
An act, whaddaymean

Gorgeous George
Listen closely
What I will tell you now will change your life
Forever, if you engrave these edicts
On your soul, & let them drive your patter

Cassius Clay
What’s meant by that

Gorgeous George
Have you heard me promote
My bouts

Cassius Clay
I have

Gorgeous George
& have you heard me say
I predict it will be an easy fight
I am the greatest wrestler in the world
He knows it, I know it, you all know it
& just look at my face, I’m so handsome
Just look at me – I even smell pretty

Cassius Clay
I have

Gorgeous George
Well, most of the folks in a crowd
Have paid to see somebody shut me up

Cassius Clay
Is that right

Gorgeous George
Yeah, I mean, listen to me
If I were you I would begin my fights
Along these lines… I am Cassius Clay
The greatest boxer that the world has seen
& anybody wanting to beat me
Is gonna have to be greater than great
One of these days they’re liable to make
The house where I grew up a national shrine
I got the reach, height, weight, speed & physique
Courage & natural ability
& so, I cannot possibly be beat

Cassius Clay
Ha-ha-ha – that’s some entertaining banter

Gorgeous George
Hey – you wanna beer

Cassius Clay
I do not drink, sir

Gorgeous George
Suit yourself, but, hey, call me Gorgeous George
Or just plain Gorgeous

Cassius Clay
George will be fine, sir
I loved that stuff about killing the bum
& tearing off his arm, & if, somehow,
You lost, you would cut off all of your hair
& crawl across the canvas on your knees
Hands held in homage, servile, to thy foe

Gorgeous George
& lots of folks will pay to see just that
Nobody likes to see a bigmouth win
Especially if there’s the promise too
Of gross humiliation if I’d lose,
All this sassy braggin’ & trash-talkin’
Was founded by me, patented by me,
& now I am its outrageous master

Cassius Clay
So, it’s all just a gimmick, all this talk

Gorgeous George
You’ve got to have a gimmick in this life
If, in this life your life, is meant to shine
& don’t be humble, no, humble don’t sell
Tickets; but flair, flamboyance, well-control’d
Sure does, & brings in bucketloads of dough,
So, go on out there, invade this harsh world
Where, opening the armoury of life,
Treat bragging as an art form, command it,
Utilise it, extend its boundaries,
& be the man that’s there inside your core,
Awaiting, wild, wild, tiger, to be free.

Cassius Clay
Fascinating sensei wisdom, brother,
This day’s a day I shall never forget

Gorgeous George
Good, good, I sense a surge of Gorgeous George
Into the wide world on thy pinions
Made from marble sculptur’d pectorials
Good luck, don’t be afraid to be absurd

Cassius Clay
Man, that’s some good advice, firm embedded
So, George, wanna come to my fight tonight

Gorgeous George
Yeah, why not, I’d be happy to, young man

Cassius Clay
Great, I’ll leave you three at the desk

Gorgeous George

Cassius Clay
Well, it’s been wonderful to meet you, sir

Gorgeous George
& you, young man, now go & change the world
{exit Cassius Clay – Gorgeous George looks at the mirror}
I really am the most beautiful thing
I’d marry myself if that was allow’d!


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