GOTR 2: Scenes 1-5

Thomas Hoepker | Muhammad Ali flirts with Belinda Boyd in a ...

Scene 1

The Spirit of America
To be born an honest American
Is to win the first Lottery of life
Born with the freedom of this favour’d land
This land unvex’d from sea to shining sea
Conglomeration of capacious states
This buckaroo stew of fact & legend
Whose fruited beauty binds the union
Subjected only to one stronger force
That is liberty’s dream actualis’d
Forever held in perpetuity
A democratic beacon for the world
I, its spirit lantern personified
Whom, tho’ before thee stood, is yet elsewhere
A cosmic symphony of quantum leaps
I am a quarter billion people
All at once, & individuals all,
Amalgamation of national stocks
Fierce interminglings of humanity
Imposters, colonists & citizens
Werowance, Governor & President
I am a child in Tulsa, watching cartoons,
A chef in Tacoma making chili
& the New York Knicks in seventy-three
I am casinos with fake pyramids
& an original Andy Warhol00
I am the Pulitzer prize for poets
& Leopold Stokowski’s orchestra
Demystifying Mozart for us all
I am Devils festering on Death Row,
Angels evangelizing Heaven’s girth
& Florida’s primaeval Corkscrew Swamp
A shadowland of dreams & secret scenes
Where nest the wood-ibises, wary-eyed,
& snowy egrets, nuptial plumage fam’d,
I am orphans of the Pony Express,
I am everything American –
I am… I am… I am… I am… I am…
Unending amber waves of August grain
From Navajoland, Four Corner Country,
Out to Astoria’s once lonely port
I am each seed, & the breeze that blows them,
I am a one trick pony sidewalk hustle
& the rooftop views of Philadelphia
I am one of Bukowski’s paperweights
& the kahuna Lanikaula
& the rimshot snap of a jazz key change
In a smokey Louisiana dive
As, in the nation’s heart, we fall on Hays
Kansas plains, America to the core
Orchards drop apples, cattle grows fatter
Water towers & grain elevators
Lookalike hamlets, where Buffalo Bill
Built his perilous, ephemeral Rome –
I am Emily Dicksonson’s writing desk
Mississippi’s fractal embouchure
Lusty banquets upon the green margins
Mexican children learning English verbs
& the Sierra Nevada, far seen
From a hundred miles away, jagged stroke
Of gleaming snow, suspe1nded in the sky
Where flock the birds over Pine Knot Cottage
Peering at Rooseveldt’s special aura
I am Dry Pong off one-sixty-seven
I am the weather-chisel’d monoliths
Of Cochise Head, Chiricahuan peak,
One thousand, nine hundred & thirteen feet
Of clear prominence, I am a snickers bar
I am Mount McKinley in Alaska
America’s highest peak, & I am
Wisconsin’s ‘Little Switzerland’, folk call
Swissconsin, I am the Mescal Mountains
‘Big Mescal Sitting There,’ hoar with Black Spruce
I’m the skipjacks dredging Chesapeake Bay
For oysters, I am the diamond seller
In the Willamette Building of Portland
Within Emerson’s book-clutter’d study
I am novels of huge weight & beauty
The serpentine loops of the Tennessee
The tilting contests on the Delaware
Arlington’s marble amphitheater
I am these things & many more besides
La Jolla shimmers under Soledad
As east of Monticello, forest tops
Swarm to horizon like a real sea
From Rabbit Hatch, Kentucky, to Key West
This land is your land, this land is our land,
In every place you look, your guts garner
Intuitions of highest creation
The lobstermen of Monhegan in Maine
Coyote Gulch’s mighty sphinx-like paws
The anchors wedg’d in beds by Cuttyhunk
As in the Sherwood Gardens, tulip bulbs,
Wisteria, Azalea, explode
In paparazzis of fragrant rainbows
I am Mark Twain’s childhood home on Hill Street
Hannibal, Missouri, Tom Sayers’ town
I am gleams of future, echoes of past
The yelp of a charging Confederate
Remember’d in a yodelling square dance
I am older still – the porcelain streak
Of New Mexico’s snow-white gypsum dunes –
Incredibly feathery, I am this
& I am my people, good people all,
Race of races, large generous spirits
Come join me together in a line dance
Or cheering pucks across the skiddy ice –
Discos & rodeos, let’s take a tour –
Oer Alkali Flats, swirling clouds of dust
Tiny, transparent, selenite crystals
Diffuse the sun, Colorado’s topland
A patch-quilt paradise of spruce fring’d lakes
Where forests whisper on piny ridges
I am the absolute truth of us all
I am, I am, I am the Alamo!
& the City of Angels, vitalis’d
By salty Pacific, San Francisco
Soundtrack’d by overt drones of the foghorn
I am Neshoba’s Grand Reunion
& the Winnebago of Wisconsin
I am Atlantic City in the sun
The immortal roar of Niagara Falls
& the stick people carv’d into smooth boulders
Strewn about the Canyonlands of Utah
I am cathedral dawn breaking over
The Great Smokies – bursting from saline brine
I am misshapen ghosts of Mono Lake
Porous columns of tufa coalesc’d
As savage towers, where the rock wrens nest…
I am… I am… I am… I am… I am…
I am America, & I am you.


The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

& a rose in the field of lilies grows
To the summer & then she blooms

I’ll hold my roses up to the blue skies
& form my star-spangled banner
Hey america stand up & rise
For Old glory, gold & the glamour

I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that‘s purest sweetest
Has perfection on its lips.

& a love led on red white roses shines
Like a hyacinth bed in June

I’ll hold my roses up to the blue skies
& form my star-spangled banner
Hey america stand up & rise
For Old glory, gold & the glamour

Scene 2

Chicago / a bakery ran by the Nation of Islam / Belinda Boyd is behind the counter looking bored / enter Muhammad Ali with Hans the photographer

Ali – you’re back again

Well, Belinda
You’ve got some delicious tasting doughnuts

Who’s this

This is Hans

Hello Hans


He’s been taking some photographs of me

Do you mind if I shoot some more in here

Go ahead… where you from

From Germany

Germany, huh

Hans, this is Belinda

I can see now why we’ve been here three times
Already this fine day

The cakes are great
You want one


Miss Belinda, two cakes
These one’s here… two for now, two for later

No problem

Hey Hans, she’s beautiful huh

Shut up

She is very pretty, yes
With her welcoming frangipani smile
She jewels, blooming in her womanhood
As if we we had witness’d a Sunrise Dance
Up with the White Mountain Apache tribe
Godmothers co-ordinating the moves
Godfathers eagle feathers in each hand

Her mom & dad are Muslims, she’s been rais’d
In the religion, its customs observ’d
& so must make a perfect Muslim wife

Do you want your pies or what

You know Hans
I am gonna marry this girl one day
Aren’t I Belinda, tell him you love me

Stop it

Tell him the tale about when we met
Go on

Alright, well, ‘bout three years ago
Ali came into my High School, right here
In Chicago, the University
Of the Nation of Islam held the roof,
I was editor of the school paper
To interview this famous superstar
Was my responsibility, but find
Him kind, & humble

& beautiful, right?

Shut up, I’m speaking

No, it’s my turn, now
She had long-lock’d braids flowing down her back

He call’d me a ‘Little Indian Girl’

She started loving me there & then, right
& has never stopp’d


That’s what you said
Just two hours ago

You mistake my words
My love for you as a human being
Is not the same as my romantic love
Now please, take you pies & get out of here

But love, once started, like a river grows
As when the tiny Pemigewasset
Flows out of Franconian Profile Lake
Murmuring quietly to itself buy the base
Of stately & retire mountains
Receiving juices from moist, primitive woods
Then enters the Winnipesaukee stream
At Franklin, merging as the Merrimack
Turning the wheels of commerce as it flows
Thro’ Concord, then Manchester, to the sea

MA’s & Belinda’s heads start coming together in a look of love

I said, take you pies & get out of here

Only if you promise to marry me

That will be twenty-eight cents please, Ali

Twenty-eight cents, discount for a bulk buy

Twenty-eight cents

Marry me Belinda

Twenty-eight cents

Kiss me, please


They kiss


All around the world today
There’s people falling in love
Falling in love
They’ve made a match & lit the hay
now its burning for love
Its burning for love

I’ve been deep in you since that first moment when I saw your eyes
‘twas like a revelation of the special spirit kept inside
No-one could tell me diff’rent, for I knew my soul was shining true
Cos I was burning for love & my love was burning hot for you


There’s just one thing we got to say
That’s marry me, babe, yeah
Marry me babe
Is that a yes or no, OK
I’ll marry ya babe,
I’ll marry ya babe

I’ve been wanting you since that first moment when I saw your smile
‘twas like an understanding of the sacred forces of the Nile
Your waters flow thro me, a flood of love, an ecstasy of life
Yes, baby, marry me, complete my being, see me as your wife

I hope
We will be in love forever
I hope…

Scene ends with them married before an Imam – herbert & Bundini Brown are with them

Do you accept

Qubool, qubool, qubool

Do you accept

Qubool, qubool, qubool

Now under the sacred gaze of Allah
We’ll sign the wedding contract, Belinda…
& now your husband, Muhammad Ali
& now the two male witnesses will sign

Bundini Brown & Herbert Muhammad sign the contract

Scene 3

Oakland, California – Dick Sadler’s gym – George Foreman is warming up with Archie Moore, pounding a bag

Dick Sadler
That’s it boy, hit that bag, let fury flow
Yes pound & pound & pound away my boy
Let all of those aggressions devastate
Which gnaw at you like hungry galley rats
Cos, son, I’m gonna teach you how to punch
Assimilate tricks of longevity
You’re putting too much energy & strain
Into knocking out people, I shall teach
How to be a proper power puncher
So you get your man out of there in one
Or two rounds, you don’t wanna do fifteen
& we don’t want you to go ten, wasting
Your stamina, no, knock these guys out quick
Your body only has a small amount
Of fights within its noble flesh & bones
I’m gonna teach ya how to go out, to slide
Under punches, & whap, knock the guy out,
& then go on to the next guy – you’ll fight
A lot more fights in you career like that

Anter Archie Moore & Sonny Liston

Archie, how ya doin

Archie Moore
I’m doing good

Dick Sadler
Thanks for coming down my gymnasium
This is my boy, his name’s George Foreman

George Foreman

Archie Moore
I’m Archie Moore, & this, this is Sonny
Sonny Liston, you might have heard of him

George Foreman
Sure I have… Sonny

Sonny Liston
George… we gonna box?

Dick Sadler
So Sonny, don’t hold back with my boy
We think he’s got a chance, & might ascend
Right to the very top, but on the way
He’s gonna meet some mighty hard hitters
I want him hurting from the very start
For bad beginnings make a bad ending

Sonny Liston
I’ll just do what I always do, OK

Dick Sadler
Yeah, please, that’s why you’re here

Archie Moore
Let’s do this boys

Sonny Liston
Look in my eyes boy – see this piercing balls
In these you will throw your first punches
Intimidate your foe with frozen gaze
& like a basilisk you’ll feast on blood

George Foreman & Sonny Liston begin to spar / it gets a bit rough

Dick Sadler
Alright boys, break, break it up, break it up

George Foreman
Oh wow, man, you’re one fierce mother-fucker
Dangerous, even, no wonder you won
The heavyweight title, that was like war
& how the hell dya make me move backwards
Nobody has done that to me before

Sonny Liston
It’s my jab, boy, it keeps men dizzified
Right, you hit good too, but not your full strength
Why is that

Dick Sadler
We’re working on it Sonny

Archie Moore
His jab keeps missing too, his shots fly wild

Dick Sadler
Just keep on sparring, boys, let us study
The situations herein that arise
& then we’ll all discuss the avenues
Of wisdom open’d up to us this day
For wisdom is a collective being

They resume sparring

Archie Moore
He’s looking good, I quite agree with that
But what’s he got in here

Dick Sadler
The boy’s got heart

Archie Moore
But has he got the will

Dick Sadler
I think he does

Archie Moore
Great talent needs great will power as well

Dick Sadler

Scene 4

Philadelphia / Joe Frazier is sat in his car singing along to the radio – Muhammad Ali knocks on the window – Frazier gestures to Ali to get in the car – Enter Muhammad Ali carrying a suitcase

Hey, man, nice wheels

Front-drive Eldorado

The Queen o’ Cadillacs I heard ’em say

So where you wanna go

The bus station

Sure, that aint far, I’m happy to oblige

Look at us, undefeated champions
Of the whole world’s heavyweight division
All in one space & ne’er comin’ to blows

There’s a time & a place for such action
Mine was no ignoble supplantation
But honour says we’ll have to fight one day
I’ve even sent the Supreme Court letters
Begging them return your boxing license

I dig that, brother, your soul is shining
You got good days ahead, too, good money
Man, you got Jimmy Ellis coming up
That’s a million-dollar gate for sure
& I been whupping on Jimmy Ellis
Since I was baby boy, you’ll have it made
Some perfect paydays if you play it cool,
But big up the truth, man, if you fought me,
Would you be scared?

No, man, honest to God

You really wouldn’t be

No kinda way

I mean my fast left jab, the way I dance?

Noooooo! I’d get close to you, I’ve heard ’em talk
‘Bout how fast you is, moving away, but
You’ll find out how fast am I moving in.

Remember that time you came to see me
Fight Zora Folley? You wanted to learn
From me

We all ken a time o’ learning.

You believe you learnt enough to fight me?

Hell, yeah! Maybe even if I didn’t
Know enough, I would never turn you down –
For any man that turns another down
In his profession deem less than a man

What if a man is wise & bides his time
As when we watch’d delinquents stab their knives
Stood safely by on sidewalks, when us boys

I’m ready now to beat you fair & square

So, do you think you could decision me,
Or could even stop me before fifteen?

I’m sure I could stop you before fifteen.

You really do?

I really do. You see,
The kinda stuff I’m gonna put on you
Y’ain’t ever seen before, you understand?

It is impossible to dodge my jab

Those other cats let you have it your way
Just like they let me have it my way, dig?
They let you jump around the ring, and dance,
But I’d be getting me right dead on you
Every time you breathe you would be breathing
Right down on my head.

You never whip me
You be tired after six rounds of scuffling.

You be tired, too, trying to get away
Running and jabbing, ducking and dodging
You be tired, too.

I’m stronger than you think
{long pause}
I really believe you afraid of me

{long pause}
No, I sure ain’t – I wanna fight you bad

After I get myself into good shape,
I’m gonna dance and move like Sugar Ray.
S’impossible to whip me with your style

Well, I been up against real race horses
But I’ve whipp’d ’em all down to a slow trot.
Slammin’ sticky quicksand under bruis’d hooves.

I’ll admit you good, but I’m the fastest
Fist in the history of the whole world.

Moving away, maybe, but moving in,
No way, that’s me, I’m fastest moving in

But you don’t have no jab.

{aghast, almost stops car}
I don’t have a jab?

Keep driving! Watch it! No, you got no jab

But man, I’d tear your head off with a jab!
I’ve got a jab like a cool machine gun

I’ve seen you box, I fought Sonny Liston twice,
When he was at his best – Floyd Patterson
I beat, & all those title defenses
Like Mildenberger & Henry Cooper.

What you want me to do?

And I fought
Zora Folley & Cleveland Williams

Which one you want me to fight?

They all beat – but leaving out me & you
Who you think would be the best two to fight
The all-time title

Oh, like Joe Louis
& Jack Johnson

Damn straight, that’s who I think.

Yeah, man, y’know I hope you do get back.
But, man, you ain’t gonna do no whipping.
Not on me. I hope there’ll be no hard feelings
When I whip your ass
{Sees Ali about to cut in}
Brother let me talk!
Got no hard feelings with you anyplace
But when we in the ring, you on your own.

But you be on your ownsome lonesome, too

That’s the only way I know how to be.

If we can’t get along, let’s get it on.

We’ll get it on. Ain’t no doubt about that.
Once that bell rings, I see you psych ’em out
But me, I’m a different cut – I’m the
Greatest psych-artist ever put on earth
You’d outdo Houdini easier than me

For that smart remark, here’s my prediction
A perfect blueprint of the first five rounds

Who say you gonna last that –

Let me talk!
That night of the fight at the ticket booth,
I want the people to pick up the program,
See written out round-by-round what I’ll do
Like reading menus for an eight-course meal
Now the first round–Dong! See me coming out
But I ain’t gonna do nothing, no need
Just gonna show you off as an amateur,
I won’t throw one punch, I’m just gonna dance
& hold my guard down by my groovin’ hips
Gonna dance and move like I did with Floyd
Patterson, ‘what’s the matter son,’ I’ll say
As you don’t even get in one poor punch
But still, I’m gonna let you win that round.
Then, second round–Dong! I’m coming out fast,
I won’t be shooting nothing but left jabs.
Gonna hold my right hand down by my side
I won’t be needing it for no protection,
Nothing but left jabs, beautiful left jabs,
Here comes the jabs . . . then the third round–Dong!
I’m coming out, putting footwork together
Jabs together, right crosses together
& here come those unstoppable left hooks

Sounds like you done won the fight already–

I aint gonna miss a left jab that round
And after that fifth round–

{can’t stand it any longer}
Wait, wait–

You say what you say when I’m through

Go & muzzle up that Nostradamus

Lemme finish, man, don’t be getting scared,


Yeah. Now, in the fourth round–

It’s coming off!
This fight has got to come off!

The fourth round–
I’l tie you up & in your feetless fifth
I’m gonna right-cross you, talking to you,
Telling you the history of your life
Teaching you & inventing new punches

Now where I’m gonna be at all this time
Ya doing all these things, counting fingers?

You will be trying to throw everything
But none of those knick-knacks are gonna land

Hear me Clay, it ain’t gonna be that way.

You have a right to say that, as have I

The right to say what I would wanna say
& now I’m gonna tell you what I feel
Its gonna go, you gonna run about,
A few rounds, throw a few pansy punches
Then in the sixth I’m gonna knock you down

No! Listen! Don’t you try my predicting

I’m telling you

Be sure you back it up!
Your behind gonna be mine in round nine!
As soon as you start working the body,
I’m gonna shoot for your head–quick! WHIP! WHIP! WHIP!
You won’t get to my body ‘less you clinch

Outta twenty-six fights I ain’t never
Held on to a man

But brother listen
We know the truth by reason & by heart
Something tells me you & me got bizness
I hope you’re still the champ when I get back
Effluent with unstocking’d refluence
All this for saying no to killing folk
Pinn’d down by an imperial pastern
I aint no trigger-happy dilettante
I got no quarrel with the Vietcong
Those Vietcong don’t put no dogs on me
Nor robb’d me of my nationhood, hey look
It’s the station, pull over

Sure thing, man

Nice one brother, real nice, & thank-you, hey!


You don’t have any money to spare
I’m short for the ticket

Hah! Of course man

You’ll get it back with int’rest when we fight

Here’s some love brother

Thanks, you’re a good man,
No, good friend, farewell & be prosperous

Exit Muhammad Ali

Scene 5

Chicago – Elijah Muhammad’s office – he is watching the Joe Frazier vs Jimmy Ellis

Howard Cossel
A viscious left hook to Ellis’s chin
Ellis is looking in trouble again
Against those ropes, if he stays on the ropes
He will be totally devastated
There’s less than a minute left in round four
Frazier’s giving it to him completely
A right there, a left, & another right
& down goes Ellis, yes, down goes Ellis
He is beaten, Jimmy Ellis will try
To get up, but seems worn to a frazzle
He is a game, game young man, & he’s up
He’s up past the mandatory eight count
He’s up at nine, Frazier is very strong
There’s just seconds left, there’s Frazier again
With the left – Ellis is just standing there
Ohhhh – a tremendous left hook – he’s down
& his only redemption is the bell
But with tremendous courage he is up
The fight continues, he’s sat on his stool
& he’s talking to Angelo Dundee
This fight is over, praise to Joe Frazier
The Heavyweight Champion of the World
Elijah turns off the television, enter herbert Muhammad

Father! As-salamu alaikum

As-salamu alaikum… my boy

You seem troubl’d father

Yes, a little
It’s about our boxing associate

What about him

He’s become a burden

A burden

ElijahYes, being incapable
Of promulgating our faith thro’ strength
Of raising money or generating
Pleasant publicity for the Nation
He should have inverted into quiet
Last night Ali was on television
Watching him sent a swelling of disgust
Erecting dwelling of dark condition
In my starkly angering cognition

What did he say, I miss’d him on TV
Which show was it?

It was on ABC
Howard Cossel & his Wide World of Sports

Hmm – a big show – big audience

Well, there was a question ask’d by Cossel
On whether our boxing associate
Would to the ring return if offer’d right
Financial instigations – he agreed
In blatant contradiction of his stand
To draft-spurn on religious principle
It seems that Mammon has mightier hold
Oer his soul than miraculous Allah
Whose powers over the Heavens & Earth
Should be sufficient for everybody
No need had he to go back to fighting
The world knows America has wrong’d him
His cause is worldwide, he could have us’d his fame
To help us proselytise our perfect plans
We would have taken care of all his needs
But no, the White Man’s money, as I see
Is all he really cares for, one who crawls
On hands & knees, back bent as a beggar
Craving cashy handouts, just cannot be
Seen in the circle of our brotherhood

And what are we to do, then, father

I am in the ember days of my life
& with them quiet dreams of peaceful days
There can only be one resolution
He must be sanction’d from the brotherhood
Suspended from the nation & dismiss
All his aggressions from our peaceful midst

Suspend him, oh dear

Yes, it must be so

For how long

He is forbidden to speak
Visit, or be seen with any Muslim
Prohibited from all activity
Under the mantle of the NOI
Who shall know longer know his holy name
That to Allah has sadly been return’d
In shame, that he is now Cassius Clay
Hah, shame, yes, it is a baleful shame
I was fond of him, but, he has outgrown
All usefulness – time changes everything –
It’s never still – you will give him the news

Yes, father

& Herbert


Remind him
What happens when former associates
Offend their tongue by slandering our faith
Nobody wants another Malcolm X

Of course, father

Will you tell him today

I will do my very best to find him

Good – Allah ysalmak

Ma salama

Exit Herbert – Elijah is left in thought


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