GOTR 2: Scenes 12-16

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier fight: Fight of Century still a big deal

Scene 12

Washington DC, the Supreme Court is in session

Justice Potter Stewart
As whe the Gods gatherd by Mout Ida
Playing fate flutes for brave Patrocolus
Intra vires, decision must be made
This august body has the given trust
Of this happy nation’s judiciary
Knowing the right decision must be made
For we are like the helmsman of a boat
That steers the ship of state thro reefs & rocks
That random life oft places in the stream,
Therefore, ergo, let us now ruminate
In dialogue socratic, who is first?

Justice Potter Stewart
I’ll speak if this fair council dost agree

Justice William Brennan
I have no qualms

Justice John Marshall Harlan
Nor I

Justice William Douglas
Speak, Potter, speak
&, sirs, do not talk with trepidation
Be accurate as the Confucion Shen Tsung
We are inheritors of tradition
Thro’ fine accomplishments & dire mistakes
We must always protect the living law
Which is the accumulated labour
Of successive generations, & is
The adamantine birthright of new babes

Justice Potter Stewart
Let us look, now, at the main reason why
The appellant was convicted at first
He made a stand against the induction
Among the young men meant for Vietnam
In the draft of nineteen sixty seven
Back then the war was fresh, the sentiment
Of the public, let us say, appetite,
For war was healthy, a tad jingoistic
& the appellant was a butterfly
Shouting into a hurricane, but now
Dramatic transformations prosper thro’
The DNA of this evolving nation
Which weary grows of the ritual count
Of body-bags whipping out of Saigon
It seems the appellant’s on the right side
Of history after all, I’ll respect
His courage in convictions, yes, for me,
His original sentence must be quash’d

Justice Warren Burger
I disagree wholeheartedly with that
Back in sixty-six his case consisted
Of a conscientious objection
Based upon him being Islamic
But every Muslim nation in the world
Has Muslim soldiers, whichever the way
Blows, today, popular abrogation
The faith of the appellant can’t uphold
His cowardisic stance, sentence must stand.

Justice John Marshall Harlan
Perhaps, Justice Burger, you’re mistaken
If the appellant is to qualify
For conscientious objector status
Three pillars must stand firm beneath your case
To be oppos’d to war in any form
That opposition bas’d upon belief
& is sincerely held, so let us look
Not at the broader wheel of religion
But of individual spokes instead,
So, just as Christianity divides
In aspects, the Episcopalian
The Baptist, the Mormon, etcetera,
So, Islam, too, has Sunni & Shi-ite
The Ahmadiyya mosques of Qadian
& then, of course, the Nation of Islam
Here in America, now, I’ve studied
The sermons of their leader, Elijah
Muhammad his name, & they clearly state
An aversion to war in all its forms

Justice William Douglas
Where did you obtain these vital sermons

Justice John Marshall Harlan
I ask’d one of my clerks to acquire me
Background material on their doctrine
That are fully in the public domain
& after the severest perusal
I have to agree with Justice Stewart
& let us quash the lawless Albatross
Hung round the neck of young Cassius Clay
That he made his stand bas’d on the tenets
Of his faith, is clear & lawful I’m sure.

Justice William Brennan
What knowledge have you gain’d of their doctrines
The message is heavily based on peace
Whose underlying sentiment, I’d say
Edict, is this, members of the Nation
Of Islam, should never participate
In any wars which endeth Human life.

Justice Potter Stewart
If this is true, then this boxer’s beliefs
Are surely no less religiously based
Than previous cases, let us refer
Back to Welsh versus the United States
In which this noble body sat & ruled
That ethical & moral objection
To war was as valid as a religious
Objection, thus broadening qualities
Which qualify for exemption status.

Justice William Douglas
There is a new direction in the wind
& its blowing for complete redemption
But to soothe its blow for the most stalwart
Of those with deepest patriotic hearts
I’ve found a technicality of sorts
The original conviction’s too vague
Neglecting a precise admonition
Upon the points supporting Clay’s defense
I’ll have my clerks type you up a copy
But safe to say this day has now declar’d
The appellant’s case has been successful

Justice John Marshall Harlan

Justice Potter Stewart

Justice Warren Burger
After hearing Justice Marshall
I say aye as well

Justice William Brennan
As do I

Justice William Douglas
& I
With which the verdict is unanimous
Cassius Clay has been fully repriev’d
Is to be prais’d for his good character
His morals, & for his integrity
& was sincere in his past objection
On religious grounds to participate
In all war’s forms – that the registrant’s claim
For conscientious objector status
Be sustained – all agreed

Justice Warren Burger

Justice William Brennan

Justice John Marshall Harlan

Justice Potter Stewart

Justice Potter Stewart
Well, justices, thanks for thy attendance
Until we meet again

Justice William Brennan
That’s after lunch

Justice Potter Stewart
Of course, what is the case again

Justice Warren Burger
Its Gordon versus Lance, West Virginia

Justice Potter Stewart
I remember – tax rates – can hardly wait

Justice William Brennan
So, how is your Matilda doing, John

Justice John Marshall Harlan
Much better – her knee’s slowly improving
We have found a wonderful chiropractor
Up state

Justice William Brennan
You’ll have to give me the number

Justice Justice John Marshall Harlan

Justice Potter Stewart
{to Douglas}
I’m glad today went the way of Clay
He’s a fine young man & boy he can box

Justice William Douglas
He doesn’t stand a chance against Frazier
Have you seen the way he locomotes in
Brawling, inex’rable, threshing machine

Justice Potter Stewart
I guess we’ll find out soon

Exit Judges

Scene 13

Madison Square Gardens / Ali & Frazier are sat at a table either side of Bob Arum / the room is filled with photographers & journalists including ABC’s Howard Cosell

Splendid afternoon to everybody
Welcome to these dangerous inductions
& thanks for all for coming here this day
But as we all admit this day rare pois’d
These are two undefeated champions
Hand-set to tip the balance either way
What storms-a-coming, happy are they both

I’m sure they are, purse fretting free to burst
As if a bounty on a proditor
Set by the richest kings of Xanadu

That’s right, five million split evenly
Between our handsome, priceworth prize-fighters
The whole world wants to see them battle raged
& slam a wage against the winning odds
Every heart trembles, every wine flows
For what should be the Fight of the Century,
Better even that the famous long count
When the Manassa Mauler, Jack Dempsey,
Took on Gene Tunny, the fighting marine
More famous than when James J Corbett fought
John L Sullivan in twenty one rounds
This event is greater by multitudes
Than when Joe Louis batter’d Max Schmelling
& bloodied Hitler’s nose & attitude
This is the biggest we have ever seen
By ten hundred million people watch’d
Across the world – Poland, Arabia
The Odeon in Burn-e-ley, Hong Kong
You name the place, they’ll be watching the bout

Journalist One
What do the fighter’s think?

Journalist Two
What round Ali?

I aint gonna call the rounds, but I’ll still shine
A singular prediction’s lantern light
When he & I enfisted ye shall see
Ungarish, cut-ingraven amateur
Completely outbox’d, so easy to hit,
When the fans will throw dirt at the critics
& experts for misleading them so much

You got time

What do you wanna say, Joe
How ya gonna riposte all that wisdom

I say it nuttin but a bunch of noise
His brain is threading needles back thro time
But today is today, man, understand
You’re not fighting Oscar Bonavena
You’re not fighting Patterson or Liston
You’re fighting Joe Frazier

I know that man
Everybody know that, that’s not the point

That is the point

Joe, what’s your prediction

The fight won’t go the distance

No it won’t

I’ll stop him

Stop me


How soon? What round?

{angry & fluster’d}
One to ten, you’ll be outta there, I’ll stop…

He’s agitated! He’s agitated!
{laughter from the journalist}
He’s famous cos there were no good boxers
To fight him

Get ready cos here I come

I’ll still my tongue, now, no more prefight talk
But I would like to offer one more wise
Even tho’ I twice beat Sonny Liston
The Boxing Commission ne’er was convinc’d
I was the right & proper champion

But that’s all over, now you’re fighting me

I’m the true champ, your fights only draw
Four thousand people tops, there’s more folk come
To see me train than watch your actual
Y’aint no-one, they only wanna see me

Who got top billing? Who got top billing?

{standing up shaking his fist}
Wait ’til I get you in the ring

{pushing back Ali’s fist}
And what?

Get your hands off me! Get your hands off me!
The whole world recognizes me as champ

You got one half & I got the other
It doesn’t really matter anymore
We’ll make a fight, revive & shape it whole

No man alive could ever beat myself
If Joe Frazier whups me I’ll be dropping
On hands & knees to crawl across the ring
I’ll crawl across the ring, look up & say
You are the champion

{putting his hands on Ali’s shoulders}
I’ll tell you what

{shrugging off Frazier}
Get your hands off me
Then I’m gonna crawl
Back across the ring, then leave behind
The boxing world forever – hang on man –
Whatma saying – that aint gonna happen
I’m gonna whup you, I’m gonna whup you

The thing is you aint gonna be able
To crawl anywhere, you’ll be laying down

Listen to me boy you will bleed, bleed bad

We’re gonna try & see who is the best

I’m the best

No, I’m the best

No I am
I’m the greatest – the world is gonna see
Two heavyweight champions, one phoney
One real – to distinguish will be easy


How ya gonna hit me, Joe
I’m too fast

I’ll be smoking’ right on you

I’ll be picking, poking, pouring water
On your smoking

I’ve had enough of this
I’m outta here
{to Ali}
I’ve no further with you

Exit Joe Frazier

Where ya going, Joe! Where ya going, Joe!
I got him running scared, he aint no champ
Not in the eyes of Black America
He fights for Uncle Tom, my opressors
After I lost my title to the draft
They gave it Frazier, the White Man’s negro
The pale-ass-kisser who stands up only
For purses in rings, forgets his people
Joe Frazier’s nail’d on to get telegrams
From folks in Alabama in Georgia
Saying, ‘Buddy, play the White Man tonight
& demolish that draft-dodging n!gger!
yeah, whup that uppity, loud n!gger, Clay,’
But ninety-nine percent of my people
Are with me in the ring, identify
My struggle as theirs’, its the same damn one
They fighting every day, when if I win
They win, if I lose they lose, but listen,
I aint gonna lose against Joe Frazier
He’s too ugly to be champ, he’s too dumb
He’s nuttin gut a griftin street slugger
He take five good punches just to give one

OK, that’s about enough for today,
& we’ll be seeing you all very soon

Journalist One
We’ll be there Bob

Journalist Two
Ali, how did you feel
When judges of the Supreme Court did sit
& answer thine appeal with full release
From all your unwarranted punitions

I dar’d to dream & thro that dream I feel
A man who has been in chains all his life
& suddenly they’re cut from my ankles
& I can walk about & slowly feel
The circulation coursing thro my veins
& after I whup Frazier then I’ll fly
To foreign shores & know that I am free

I’m sorry, that will be all

Exit Bob Arum & Muhammad Ali

Journalist 2

Journalist 3
This is gonna be a brilliant fight
Their race & trade is all these men appear
To hold in common to the ghetto courts

Journalist 3
& such division fascinates the world
The pugilist’s thirty-eighth parallel
Two & a half million dollars each
This unheard sum is sheer extravagance

Journalist 2
But then, of course these are two champions
Meeting, for the first time, & both are young, Undefeated, with legitimate claims

Journalist 3
As when the mighty titans warr’d on jove
Let them settle accounts once & for all
Little Bighorn, Big & Little Roundtops
Don’t have nothing on this upcoming bout
God bless America’s lust for battle

Scene 14

Philadelphia / Outside Marvis’ school / Joe Frazier is waiting in his car / Marvis gets in looking dejected

Hey son, whats up, you don’t look too special

I don’t wanna talk about it, daddy

Hey son, if there’s one person in the world
You can talk to, that’ll be your daddy

I’m getting into all kind a-trouble
At school

Yeah, go on

It’s the other kids
They’re like, ‘Ali is gonna whip your dad
Your dad cant fight’ I say why you say that
They say you is a Tom

I aint no Tom
Don’t listen to them words, them words are harsh
Spew’d falsely from a liar’s portmanteau

So whaddowha do daddy?

Just be true
There’s no wrong way to do right, no right way
To do wrong, you aint better than no-one
They aint better than you, only your deeds
May be accounted by those divine eyes
Which watches all we people do on Earth,
Such eyes as those watch’d me work extra hard
& grant our family extra blessings

So what shall I say when they call you Tom

Just tell them that your poppa make him pay
For purveying untruths, to them relay
Your daddy gonna beat Cassius Clay
& you know, son, that fool got it coming
Spitting razorblades with febrile rash,
I gave my heart & soul to help him out
But the brother came back with a dagger
Plung’d it right in my back, I’m no Yes Man
No White Man’s champion, I represent
The People, believe me I’m one of them,
At six o clock, back at the slaughterhouse
I started my shift, but two hours before
I was in there, training, pounding slabs of meat

You’re gonna pound him

Sure am, cos I’m a…

Frazier & Marvis
Small piece of leather well put together!

I’ll fight him all night long, tear off his wings,
Grind down his stinger

I wanna see that

You will, son, you will, now let’s get ice cream
You want ice cream


You got it

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
Joe Frazier’s gonna beat Muhammad Ali

Joe Frazier
That’s my boy

I love you daddy

Joe Frazier
You too

scene 15

MA is working out – press men are gather’d around – a boxer is getting ready to spar with Ali

Who is the champion of the world?
Who is the champion of the world?
If I’m not the champion of the world
Then who is – don’t think about Joe Frazier
Y’all musta come down with amnesia
Forgotten how good I was or something
I’ll show you what a real champion is
I’ve fixed up the round Joe Frazier goes down
I’m sick & tired of all of this y’see
They took away my title & then talk’d
All this phoney stuff about Joe Frazier
This game is real, this aint no phoney game
I’ll fight them all regardless of the risk
I am Heracles struggling thro’ his labours
I am D’Artagnan, Cyrano, El Cid,
When I smile women swoon, grown men shudder
When I scowl, some might say I’m dangerous
Because I’m fighter born & fighter breathe
All those chumps are just commercializing

Ding! Ali comes out to meet Frazier but Frazier starts to retreat
If Frazier goes back an inch farther he’ll wind up in a ringside seat
Ali swings to the left, Ali swings to the right. Look at the kid carry the fight.
Frazier keeps backing but thereís not enough room.
Itís a matter of time Ali lowers the boom.
Now Ali lands to the right. What a beautiful swing. And the punch lifts Frazier clean out of the ring.
Frazier’s still rising but the referee wears a frown
For he can’t start counting til Frazier comes down.
Now Frazier disappears from view
The crowd is getting frantic.
But our radar station picks him up
He’s somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought when they come to the fight
That weíd see the launching of a coloured satellite.

Journalist 1
Muhammad how ya feelin’ ‘bout the fight

The fight, who am I fighting

Journalist 1
Joe Frazier

Joe Frazier ! he’s the cuckoo in my nest
He’s got my title, stolen in my prime
Joe Frazier is too ugly to be champ
He’s so ugly they should donate his face
To the wildlife bureaux – the way he walks in
To punches shows his clear docility
Joe frazier is too dumb to be the champ
The heavyweight champion should be smart
& pretty like me – on asking Frazier
How do you feel champ, he’ll say ‘duh duh duh’
Frazier will be nothing but a target
I’ll be dancing & moving & hitting
& Frazier won’t be able to find me
He’ll be reaching & straining with those hooks
& they’ll get longer & longer & he’ll
Be getting more & more frustrated
Things are gonna be happening so fast
Joe Frazier won’t be able to keep up
Pop, pop, pop, pop, plus I’m talking to him
Come on Joe, come on Joe, you aint no champ
Come on, you have lost three rounds already
Like my poem says – Joe comes out smoking
But I aint jokin’, pickin’ & pokin’
Pouring water on all of his smokin’
& I’m gonna shock, twist & amaze ya
The night I’m gonna destroy Joe Frazier

Journalist 2
After such an epic time kept away
From boxing, have you degenerated
At all, in stamina, fighting style, skills

None that I’ve notic’d, anyways, listen
Guys, even if I’d barely train’d a day
I’d still whup Joe Frazier, there aint a man
Alive who’d whup me – I’m too fast, too smart,
Too pretty – I should be a postage stamp
That’s the only way I’ll ever get lick’d

Journalist 3
Do you have any predictions, Ali

Well, I aint gonna call the round he falls
& fall he will, but yes, I will predict
That when I meet Joe Frazier it will be
Like a decent amateur attempting
To fight a genuine professional
Like a kid fresh out of the Olympics
& the fastest heavyweight champion
That ever liv’d, a incredible mismatch
& yet a grim necessity that’s now
The biggest event in the history
Of the Planet Earth’s vast entirety
But not because of Frazier, ‘cause of me
To prove I’m the best this is no contest
& understand one thing, he’s not like m
He’s the other kind of Black Man, passive
Suppliant, Uncle Tom, Nixon’s negro

Journalist 1
It seems that nation’s drawn it’s battle-lines
& boxers act potential presidents

That’s right, I’m not fighting a single man,
But lots of men, to show them here’s one man
They could not conquer – I fight for freedom
& in my combat free the very world

Enter Angelo Dundee & Jimmy Ellis

Angelo Dundee
Gentlemen, gentlemen, that will be all
We’ve got a spot of sparring, if you please
You may watch, but there’ll be no more questions
Alright boys, three minutes, take it away

You alright Jimmy

Jimmy Ellis
Yeah I’m good brother

How’s your wife, the pretty one

Jimmy Ellis
Oh, Candy
Yeah, she’s good & how is your Belinda

Still pregnant

Jimmy Ellis
We’re doing this

Sure thing

They touch gloves & begin sparring

Scene 16

Madison Square Gardens / Joe Frazier’s dressing room / he is praying – the room is very quiet

A shot of anger fills & swells my breast
The irresistible will of the Lord
I call on tonight, let your angels sing
Orthian songs that fill & lift fists
With providence divine

Enter Eddie Futch

Eddie Futch
Hey Joe, wake up
Watcha doin there, it is almost time

Joe Frazier
I’m praying

Eddie Futch

Joe Frazier
That’s OK, I’m done

Eddie Futch
I’m glad to say I lived to see this night
& serv’d its better part beside your dreams,
So tell me the substance of your prayers

Joe Frazier
I ask’d the lord to help me kill this man
For lacking righteousness – I’ll kill this man
& even if I have to die myself

Eddie Futch
Don’t say that

Joe Frazier
I mean it, this is blood feud
For what he’s done & said God strike him down

Enter Yank Durham

Yank Durham
That vast arena shines electric blue
With every star bright striving to be seen
As if the Milky Way trails unobscur’d
& radiant to the crystal degree

Eddie Futch
Tonight the sight of God suspends his scales
& finds one to be light

Yank Durham
They stand in line
As if the crown jewels of old England
On loan in New York, so many diamonds
There’s Diane Keaton & Ted Kennedy
Gene Kelly, Bill Crosby, Woody Allen
Diana Ross in black, velvet hot pants
Outrageously stylish, Frank Sinatra’s
On an assignment for Life Magazine
The only way his fame could entrance make
So scarce are the tickets for this catwalk
Of butter blonde gals with cadillac souls
All feather’d & furry with laces & boots
& butterfly hair by mink-coated pimps
More the coronation than the fist-fight
Bejewell’d entourages where the men
For once outclass the women in their dress

Eddie Futch
As glamorous as that maddening age
When cotton fields to some were cavalier
Of master knights & sassy ladies fair
When gallantry would take its final bow
As civil discourse broke to open war
A land so deep divided like the crowd
Outside, polaris’d into pure passions,
United only by a rope of sand
The southern states were all combustible
A sudden spark & whoosh the thing went up
When stubbornly untractable scions
Insisted upon that institution
With contumacious arrogance, whose slaves
Shall shame America for evermore
I really feel tonight’s a civil war

Yank Durham
Tonight will be the very hardest thing
You’ll ever do in the whole of your life,
But it will all be worth it if you win
Remember, Clay don’t wanna just beat you
He wants to completely humiliate
& embarrass you, make a mockery
Of you ever being champion crown’d
Beat this guy, no matter whatever else
You’ll do for the rest of your days on earth
Your road will always golden pavement be

Eddie Futch
So tell me, champ, the moment that you hear
The mad, hollow rumble of the Gardens
& that first leaping heartbeat of the bell
What you gonna do to Cassius Clay

Joe Frazier
I’ll close off the ring, connect with power

Eddie Futch
Ya gonna weave, weave,

Joe Frazier
Go in on the weave
I’ll never stop my evr-coming steps

Eddie Futch
That’s why they call you Smokin’ Joe

Yank Durham
Damn straight

Joe Frazier
I’ll remonstrate his turpitude all night
Keep hooking & ducking, exhaust his force
Then canvas the chump with a clean, straight punch

Go get him, Joe

I’m ready boys, lets go

Eddie Futch
This your destiny, boy, don’t forget it

Beginning to exit


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