GOTR 2: Scenes 6-11

Muhammad Ali in a Broadway Musical? It Happened - The New York Times

Scene 6

Las Vegas / the home of Sonny Liston / he is slump’d dead on his back over his bed – he is stiff & bloated with his pants half-way down his legs – his shoes & socks are by the bed – there is dried blood round his nose & on the bed the door goes – we hear his wife, Geraldine, move thro the house

Voice of Geraldine
Hey sonny, that’s me home, Sonny you home
Look at the state of this place, if you’re home
I aint gonna clean up this mess, ya hear
I’m your wife, not your cleaner, understand
& what is that smell, what’ve ya bin cooking

Enter Geraldine

Sonny, oh my god, Sonny, what happen’d
Wake up
{she touches him & realises he is dead}
Aah – oh my god – oh my goodness
{She calls police}
Sonny, what happen’d, my love, please, wake up
Hello – yes – its my husband – he, he’s dead
Yeah, dead – don’t know – I just found him – his skin
Is bubbling up with something – its gross
I aint seen him in a number of days
The Sahara Nevada Country Club
Yeah, in Vegas, yeah, I will stick around
Right, thank-you, goodbye… oh Sonny, my love
In you my love is lost forever now
But memories of when we were in love
& you the greatest boxer in the world
Across the pugilistic pantheon
Their common manhood has a kinsman lost
The memory of whom a man conveals
Savage as the blood-bogs of Korea
But darling, I knew your tender feelings
A lover & a fighter how thou wert
O best of me when I was in thy arms
A kiss for me sweet concert of thy charms

She kisses him

Scene 7

Miami, 5th Street Gym – Foreman is training with his trainer, Dick Sadler

Dick Sadler
Determination is the energy
That even great ambition needs as fuel
Nature soon devolves all idleness
Adversity we need for to improve
One’s status, even fate can be overcome
By sheer hard work, look at this great nation
Carv’d by the brave backwoodsmen, settl’d by
The lovely, long, salubrious picnic
Deep struck into the old Winchester West
By trains of white Conestoga wagons
Planting wakes of superabundant corn
That vitality of life, you can too
Achieve by the same qualities in work
When feeling you can’t take another step
That’s the moment you’re only half-way there

George Foreman! George Foreman! How ya diddling

George Foreman
{dropping his mitts with joy}
Cassius Clay!

That aint my name no more
That my slave name

George Foreman
Sorry man

My name
Is Muhammad Ali, address me right
Else gain no answer

Dick Sandler
Stop the national press!
Muhammad Ali is in Miami
For what do we owe this cockal honour

I was down in sunny Florida boys
& boxers are the only ones who dig
Truly what it’s like to be a boxer –
I must admit I miss the test of mein
The sweat of competition, & the ring
Times joyful lie in graves of memories
& I must live vicariously life
So George, I hear y’ave three fights coming up
As quick as my swift left-right-left, yeah?

George Foreman
You hear right – on the sixth I’ve Hazelton
Then fight Levi Forte on the sixteenth
With Gary Hobo Wiler two days aft

Busy boy

Dick Sandler
He needs to be kept busy
He get nerve-edged & spleenful if he aint
All that agression & testosterone
Needs to be legally releas’d, ya dig?

You aiming for Frazier

George Foreman
If he’s champ, yeah

He aint that good, I’ve seen the way he fights
When coming in – he’s weak on uppercuts
True quality don’t melt down from his blood
But listen George, let me show you something
{Foreman sits down, Ali begins to open the suitcase}
Just wait until to lay your gaze on this
If ever you world champion became
Status demands you’re reach’d by one of these

MA reveals a portable phone – Forman laughs

What’s so funny?

George Foreman
Thought I was gonna see
All the money in the world

You want it

George Foreman
Say what?

It’s yours for twelve hundred dollars

George Foreman
Brother, I aint got that kinda money

Dick Sandler
He will have one day, tho’

I’m sure he will
Just look at those arms gladitorial
I’m hearing good things ’bout that swing of yours
So speak me of yourself, George, where ya from
For we might have to range at blows one day

George Foreman
Well – I’m a Texan by birth & by girth
From the infamous, impov’rish’d Fifth Ward
The rotten, scabbing face of Houston’s filth
Got tangl’d up, too many scrapes a child
King of the Fights, Lord of all Bullies
To cheap read wine I turn’d the stolen change
Thro deviant, delinquent alchemie
My only aspiration was to win
The respect of killers by killing too
Until a flash of godly vision fair
Told me to do something, try out this life,
& when I pull’d the gloves on that first dawn
I knew ‘d won salvation in the ring

Salvation? S’that what they call a whuppin
In Houston?

Dick Sandler
My boy don’t take no whuppins
He blest with a catalogue of endowments

I see just that – to win Olympic gold
No mean feat – it was mine back in Sixty
Joe Frazier won the same in Sixty-four
& both of us went on to rule the world
Well – Joe Frazier’s only the fake champ –
But you dig my meaning, brother

George Foreman
I do
To be a classic in one’s own short age
Is tantamount to cosmic excellence

Dick Sandler
Your famous gift for scrying things to pass
As accurate as when you’ve pluck’d the rounds
From living aether’s dream – my man should leap
Like you & Frazier from the rostrum’s edge
Unto the pinnacle of punch & pain,
His power grows uncanny & too much
For the very best veteran fighters
His left returns like recurring pistons
Bigger, stronger, faster Sonny Liston,
With these fists he’s dismissing everyone
Atavic to Numidian giants
Who fought off Rome upon the desert’s fringe
He like a jivehound hiving with the drones
The unearthly scourge of his division
That is the richest it has ever been
Quarry, Ellis, Oscar Bonavena,
Macfoster, Shavers & george Chavala
All steamroll’d by the Houston Tornado

He don’t scare me – you aint no monster, George
But good luck anyway in all you box –
So, do you want the phone

George Foreman
The what

The phone
You can have it for nine hundred dollars

George Foreman
I gone told you I don’t have no money

Dick Sandler
He don’t be needing no portable phone

No sweat, I’m sorry to disturb you boys
But one day you will have so much money
You will be buying a portable phone
For everyone you know, think like Thorvald
Who sail’d to Skraeling Vinland in the spring
For fame & fortune, anyway, my friends,
I’ll be seeing you both along the line

George Foreman
Goodbye Muhammad – hey, wait a minute
I just wanted to say I love you man
As a young black, at times, I was asham’d
Of my colour, was asham’d of my hair
But you made me proud to be a black man

Black is beautiful brother, ne’er forget

Dick Sandler
I got a feeling the cat’s coming back
I can feel it & I do not like it
That alley cat Ali drives me crazy

George Foreman
Maybe so, but the division needs him
& if I’m ever gonna be the champ
Outright & undisputed to the world
I’ll have to fight that madman in the ring

Dick Sandler
You’ll have to down Joe Frazier first, so back
To work, come on son, let me see your jabs

George Foreman returns to training

Scene 8

Philadelphia / the street outside Joe Frazier’s gym, 2917 N. Broad Street / Enter Ali with a rowdy crowd including photographers & a film cameraman

I want Frazier, I want Frazier, I want
Frazier, I want Frazier, I want Frazier
Come out here Joe, come out here & fight me

We want Frazier, we want Frazier, we want
Frazier, we want –

Joe Frazier & Eddie Futch appear at the door

What’s all this commotion

Man, you aint no champion of the world
We end those signal farcicals today
Swerving your curveballs back to real truth

What are you doing in Philly, Ali
This aint your town, these cats aint your people

These cats are sick & tired of hearing lies,
Seeing false visages of victory
They want to see the proper champion
Forgo the inglorious arts of peace
& beat up on an ugly pretender

You what!

Lets go & fight in Fairbank Park

You’re crazy man

Well you’re a coward
The whole world knows you’re a flat-footed bull
Who moves like plowhorse thro’ rain-sodden mud

Hey sissy! You can’t hit, you got nothing

I want you Joe

I want you too

Well then,
At five o clock meet me up at Fairbank
{to the crowd}
I have a lot of speed
I have a lot of endurance
When I’m done with Joe Frazier
He’ll need more insurance
{Crowd laugh}
Joe Frazier too rebarbative to be
The representative of human might
He’d be better off donating his face
To the National Bureau of Wildlife

See what I do to your pretty face, Clay

Whaddaya call me?

Clay… Cassius Clay

Aint so, Cassius Clay is my slave name
I didn’t choose it, I didn’t want it
I am Muhammad Ali, a free name
It means Beloved of God, you dig God?
Joe, right?

Dont go bringin’ religion into this
This all about two men gettin’ it on

Lets get it on then, Joe, in Fairbank Park
At Five o Clock

I aint coming you fool
Your dearth of noblesse falls appalingly
I won’t be fighting no lunatic brawl

Dont be a coward, Joe, see you at five
{to crowd}
Can one of you lovely locals tell me
Where’s the flavourbest ice creams in Phily

Exit Muhammad Ali & the crowd

Gassius Cassius, Louisville Lip
Coming making you look bad in your crib
I thought he was your friend

Yeah, so did I

Funny way to show it

He don’t rile me
He nutting but a shunting stunt monkey
Engladdening the basest strains of men
When lenses land upon him he cries fake
But I guess such zero-adding antics
Won’t hurt a jot when come the paycheques, right?

You wanna fight that schmuck

He’s outta shape
& outta touch with all reality
For Mister Bigshot Sixties decades change

So back to work, focus on Joe Ellis

His time will come, I’ve seen it in my dreams

Eddie Futch & Joe Frazier re-enter the gym

Scene 9

Fairbank Park, Philadelphia / Muhammad Ali is surrounded by a large crowd chanting ‘Ali-Ali-Ali-Ali-Ali’

I’m Hercules struggling thro’ his labours
I’m D’Artagnan, Cyrano & El Cid
When I smile women swoon, grown men shudder
As I scowl, some would say I’m dangerous
Too dangerous, it seems, for Joe Frazier
& prettier by untold magnitudes
A better boxer obvious to all
Tho’ Uncle Tom got my championship
They refus’d to fight me at five o clock
Its now ten past, shows Frazier was afraid
Of a good whuppin in front of you all
Here I am, aint had a fight in three years
Carrying an extra twenty-five pounds
& Joe don’t show up, what kind of a champ
Is that

Crowd Member 1
Joe’s just a phoney

Crowd Member 2
Joe Frazier’s not worth a pitcher of piss

He sure aint
& now we’ve all seen he just a coward
I’ll have to find another way to scrub
The tainted glaze of someone’s else’s hands
Upon my sacred crown, but I’ll need dough
To pay this Supreme Court date coming up
So off I go to Broadway


To sing a heap of songs in Uncle Buck

Crowdmember 2
Right on

Crowdmember 3
Give us a song

You’ll have to wait
But, boy, am I the world’s greatest singer
&, as you know, the world’s greatest fighter
Both with my fists & for my human rights
My current mind’s principle assertion
Says bad things will happen if good people
Do nothing – who’ll pay the horsefly Dangeld
Of King George, not me – consider Britain
Before adventurous ‘Seventy Six’
Ancestral replicants of oppression
A clash of standards, manners & morals
I am a revolution in one man
Man’s dignity manifests in action
This licentious, pretentious lust for deaths
Of humans half a world away is naught
But scour scandal, spectacular in scope
A patriot’s a fool in every ag
Why should I lose my personality
Wearing some universal uniform
To travel ten thousand miles from my home
To drop bombs & bullets on brown people
In Vietnam, while back in Louisville
The negro’s treated worse than stray, street dog
No – I will not – I refuse – I say no
& if the laws of this hypocrite land
Send me to jail for exercising choice
I don’t mind, for my kind has been in jail
Four centuries already – my friends
Our history is inescapable
We’ll be remember’d in spite of ourselves
Fallen into a slanderpit of ink
I shall not add damnations to my fame
It’s great to be great, but it is greater
To be human, when, to be confronted
With mediocre minds preaching evil
& not oppose its machinations, is
To surrender up one’s humility,
To oppose it with violence is to
Enter one’s humanity, to oppose
It with non-violence is to enter
One’s divinity, that is where I’m at
When danger comes, then courage will follow
Possess’d by all our powers to endure
Accept the challenge & expend thy strength
With confidence, most people do not know
How brave they really are, resources deep
Of self-reliance simmer in the soul
In this society a rich man’s son
To college goes, the poor man goes to war
It’s all a sham, I will not go to war
I, determin’d as a runaway slave
Will not got to war- for that I’m condemn’d
Banded among the worst of criminals
But I’m a good boy, never been in jail
Never been to court – but I’m a rooster
Put him in the dark & he’ll never crow
But I’ve seen the light & now I’m crowing
When reason tallies with the heart – there’s truth
The power structure of this trying land
Wants to starve me from my stand, my passport
Has been taken, thus imprisoning me
Between oceans, preventing Muslims
Across the world, from kings to common men
Offering me shelter & safe repose
No – I must linger in this mad nation
Denied by birthright as the greatest man
Ever to don the gloves which win the world
You read about these things in those nations
Held in the grip of cruel dictators
& which Americans die in fighting
Festering thro masses of insensate mud
I will not join them dying without pride
I will not joining them while killing strangers
Peace prospers in the footpaths of freedom
& if I free remain, peace must follow
I speak for the interminable slaves
Who, diseas’d & despair’d, would never dare
To shun a White Man’s order, but I do
Black people now are buoyant at my nerv
At jeopardising every quart I got
To tell the truth, again, the truth is is
A million dollars & a Rolls Royce
Aint nothing next to one’s deep conviction
Boxers like me are not suppos’d to talk
But I aint that kind of Negro, I aint
No Uncle Tom like Joe ‘Turncoat’ Frazier
I’m greater than boxing, greater than those
Who from my title vacated me
Took from me something no-one honest could
Bitter, vituperative editors
Heaping execrations like some psy-op
Meant for diminishing my rightful might
The skunks of slander squirt their spittle juice
But never, ever, ever do forget
As prov’d to by his non-attendance
Joe Frazier aint the champ, the champ is me

The crowd goes crazy shouting ‘Ali! Ali!’

Scene 10

New York , George Abbott Theater / Muhammad Ali is playing the lead role in the musical, Buck White – he is stood before a crowd of black Americans


We came in chains!
We came in misery!
Now all our suffering, pains are part of history.
We came in chains!
You must remember that!
For that, and that alone explains exactly where we are at.
We came in chains!
We came as living loot!
So you could boast! Slave gotten gains.
We’ve grown beneath your boot!
We came in chains!
And how our blood was spilled!
Together with our sweat, it stains this nation we have built.
We came in chains!
We didn’t volunteer; and yet today the fact remains.
We’re still held captive here.
We came in chains!
Now, I say cut us lose! Though, that may go against your grain.
Still, there is no excuse!
We came in chains!
Now, who down there is gonna bear the cost.
Till every one of us regains, the freedom, we have lost.
We came in chains!
And now, your choice must be… to either blow out all my brains!
Or else, you’ll set me free!

We came in chains
Four hundred years
No justice, no freedom, no equality
Ninety Seventy – still in chains
Sociological chains
Economical chains
Look at these chains
Chains – chains – chains

Scene 11

Backstage at the same / Enter Muhammad Ali / he takes off his wig & beard & begins removing his make up / Enter Bundini Brown

Bundini Brown
As-salamu alaykum

As-salamu alaykoum

Bundini Brown
Brother, that was brilliant – your Buck White
Is all black – a mighty fine performance

I have to admit I was fantastic,
Forget Belafonte, Porgy & Bess
I captur’d the stage with straight charisma
But what use nautical genius
When navigators act the neophyte
& crewmen do whate’er they wanna do
We set sail for Hudson’s sunrise harbour
But ended up in Anchorage at dark
Lingering in miserable perdition

Bundini Brown
Curtail thy harshling cry, the way you shook
Nutritious apples from a fruitful tree
Completely blew my mind, the way you move
With innate dignity, the way you act
Without embarrassment, experience
Had ye not, but sincerity, humour
Erupted in abundance, dignified,
Stately, impressive, superlatives all!

I guess I act the actor all my life

Bundini Brown
& the singer too, Alleluia days
Shine on the golden groove you galvanised
With those scintillating vocals of yours
Which fell like medicine into mine ear

I did sing fine, the story aint that bad
But there was something lacking in the soup
For those who sing of serious problems
Will cheapen them with cliches well-meaning

Enter Angelo Dundee

Angelo Dundee
Muhammad Ali, that was terrible
Cuirassiers on pantomime horses
Carry more honour & look more noble

I know, I sense fair time to give it up
This febrile public stance, & do God’s work
The shape of beauty moves off from my life
Leaving discomfort shifting foot to foot

Angelo Dundee
I wouldn’t be so hasty in retreat
I took a call this morning that should sway
Your soul from all its awkward inertia

What was it

Angelo Dundee
You’re going to Atlanta


Angelo Dundee
They’ve agreed to let you fight

Bundini Brown
They gave him back his license?

Angelo Dundee
They sure have
The N Double A CP legal defense
Fil’d in federal court on your behalf
Claiming the denial of a ring license
Violated the fourteenth amendment
Stating that ninety people in New York
Were given a license to box, despite
Convictions of crimes including murder,
Rape, arm’d robbery, child molestation
Apparently the unreasonable
Discrimination they’ve aim’d against you,
Is, well, illegal, you are free to box
& Atlanta’s got in first

I love that state

Angelo Dundee
The drive of Leroy Johnson should we thank
An attorney, State Senator – & black!

He’s the state senator, right, the black man

Angelo Dundee

I heard him on TeeVee, he guts up well

He pull’d a few strings & twang’d a few bows
& BOOM! We’ll be trippin’ to Atlanta

Salt that proposal with magical thinking
Didn’t I tell you I loved Atlanta

Bundini Brown
You did, brother, you did

My freedom’s freed
I feel a tiger at an open cage
No longer feel the knee upon my neck
I might not have my title, but my right
To fight, first step upon that vital road
Which bridges each misprision, & vaults
Each dreadful river of racialism
& when the Supreme Justices admit
I love my god like he or she loves theirs
They’ll understand my conscience & my cause
For how can they true champions supress
They let me back on my terms, I denied
Nothing I believe in, I’m still the same
Everything… so boss, whomah gonna fight!

Angelo Dundee
The Great White Hope


Angelo Dundee
Jerry Quarry

& then I’ll whup Joe Frazier

Angelo Dundee
Sure you will

I’ll drop him like Jack Johnson dropp’d Jeffries

Angelo Dundee
Cos you’re the greatest

I am the greatest!

Bundini Brown
You are the greatest

Angelo Dundee
Yes, boy, you are still
That sleek & tawny beautiful gazelle
That dazzl’d broad Johansson with your jabs

Hey come on sucka, show me what you got
I sang to him that special second round

Bundini Brown
You sure did make him angry, made him swing
That sledgehammer right – it miss’d by three feet

No boxer lives can touch my pretty face
Two left jabs, a rapid right cross, a hook
Was all it took to stun poor Ingemar

Angelo Dundee
Poor fool – now come on, lets get outta here

But what about the after show party

Angelo Dundee
You ain’t going, we’ve got running first thing
A nice ten-miler made to remind ya
To rise upon the isles of Herakles
Is gonna take an ocean’s worth of sweat

Hah – let me catch you down in the foyer

Bundini Brown
Alright brother

Angelo Dundee
Don’t forget your make-up

{wiping off his make-up}
I ain’t no clown with make-up on my face
I am Muhammad Ali, Heavyweight
Champion of the world, despite the hate
I fight for my god, my people, my fame
Remember me forever as the flame
That burns as bright as starlight in the skies
Woven in sacred sable tapestries
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s