The Corner Man

Angelo Dundee may be fresh out of top fighters, but he's still sticking and moving and keeping himself at the top of a very tough business.
Angelo Dundee may be fresh out of top fighters, but he's still sticking and moving and keeping himself at the top of a very tough business.
November 02, 1987

THE WIFE: They're dying. One by one, all of Angelo's breed in boxing, they're dying.

THE BROTHER: All this screaming, he never used to do all this screaming. I don't know what's gotten into him. It's embarrassing.

THE BOXING WRITER: Ever see anybody tell a doctor to get the f--- away from a patient on live television before? He scared that poor doctor to death.

THE CORNER MAN: It's not me! It's somebody else in there, trying to do his job. It's not me!

THE FRIEND: The perfect name. Angelo. An angelic man.

THE WIFE: Look at him. Working harder than he ever did in his life, getting more upset than ever at fights. I keep telling him to relax, that he's at the age to enjoy life. I'm afraid he's going to have a heart attack.

THE TV MATCHMAKER: Great television, isn't he? I try selling my bosses on a Troy Darrell fight, they say, "Who's he?" I tell them Angelo Dundee will be in his corner, and their eyes light up.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: Most amazing personality change I've ever seen. Outside the ring, the gentlest, sweetest man on earth. Put him in the corner of a ring and he's King Kong.

THE CORNER MAN: It's not me! I feel terrible when I see him on tape. It's not me!

THE FRIEND: Don't be fooled. That man knows exactly what he's doing and saying every second in the ring. Never been a motivator like him.

THE BOXING HISTORIAN: Except for a few world champions, the most recognizable face in the history of boxing.

THE BOXING P.R. MAN: More style than substance. Doesn't really train these fighters. He shows up a few days before a fight, and it's like an entertainer coming on—it's show time.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: That's a lie! He's the best corner man who ever lived. He was part of me when I fought. We were one. I could see it in his eyes.

THE BOXING WRITER: But look at the fighters he has now that Sugar Ray Leonard has supposedly retired again. Not much talent. Demeans himself by working with some of those guys.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: Why aren't good fighters breaking down his doors?

THE TV MATCHMAKER: Great television. On the screen they're showing his fighter's reaction to losing, but in the truck the production engineer's yelling at the cameraman, "Get Angelo! Get Angelo. Get Angelo!"

THE CORNER MAN: That's someone else! Not me, it's not me. . . .

*****

THE NARRATOR: Want someone to pinch your thighs, smack your face, pour ice cubes down your crotch? Get Angelo.

Someone to attract the writers, lure the cameras, sell the tickets, make you famous? Get Angelo.

Someone to stroke your ego, admire your muscles, ease your fears, make you giggle five minutes before you risk your life? Get Angelo.

Someone to win the crowd, sway the judges, con the ref? To close your wounds, fatten your purse and find you the best pasta joint in town? A little piece of Ali in your corner, a sprinkle of Sugar? Get Angelo. Get Angelo!

April 6—wrapped in Sugar Ray's arms, mastermind of the boxing upset of the 1980s, there's Angelo. April 10—ABC News Person of the Week, that's Angelo. May 10—raging on NBC over a Mother's Day decision that went against one of his fighters. May 30—screaming obscenities on HBO at an astonished doctor trying to examine Pinklon Thomas for eye damage after a Mike Tyson barrage. June 3—getting an invitation to be grand marshal of a parade in Clarksburg, W.Va. June 17—taping a national commercial for a luxury automobile. Then a clean network sweep—three fights in eight days in July: Angelo badgering a referee on CBS, Angelo begging for life from a lifeless fighter on ABC, Angelo waving in disgust at the judges' scoring on NBC. Lousy fight? Who cares! Get Angelo!

*****

THE CORNER MAN: Stick and move! Stick and move! Don't stand still! Get off the ropes! Don't trade punches! Stick and move!

THE WIFE: Why is it that a 66-year-old man can't sit still?

THE NARRATOR: Ali vs. Liston, Ali vs. Frazier, Ali vs. Foreman. Don't sit still, stick and move!

THE CORNER MAN: Any mail today, Betty? Any calls?

THE NARRATOR: Leonard vs. Duran, Leonard vs. Hearns. Don't sit still, stick and move!

THE SECRETARY: Big stack of mail on your desk, Angelo. Four calls to return. Pinklon's on line 1, a reporter holding on line 2.

THE NARRATOR: Look how fast he moves. You can't keep up!

THE BOXING WRITER: Does his homework, doesn't coast on his name, knows which judges favor boxers and which favor punchers, keeps up his contacts with reporters and promoters better than anyone in the business.

THE CORNER MAN: I'd feel hollow if there was no mail, no phone calls, no write-ups.

THE NARRATOR: Leonard vs. Hagler, Thomas vs. Tyson. Don't trade punches, stick and move!

THE CORNER MAN: Line 1, Betty? Pink! How ya doin'?

THE SECRETARY: Look at him doodling. I have to Xerox everything before I put it on his desk or we'll never be able to read it.

THE WIFE: My god, like a man with ants in his pants. Chews and sucks his cigar like a pacifier.

THE FRIEND: If there's nothing to do, he'll go out and help the gardener, spray the plants, clean up the car—he can't stay still.

THE CORNER MAN: Don't stand still. Stick and move!

THE NARRATOR: Funny how the story always seems the same: Angie bending the rules, Angie screaming his lungs out, Angie tricking the knockout puncher, Angie in the corner of the guy who sticks and moves.

THE WIFE: Seems more nervous now for some reason. No fights for a while, he'll get depressed. He'll sit alone on the swing out back or pick a fight with me and scream. Won't let anyone else ever see that side of him.

THE CORNER MAN: You name a city, I'll name you five newspapermen. Keep a three-by-five file of addresses in my toiletry bag.

THE NARRATOR: Even in the beginning, when he had Luis Rodriguez, Sugar Ramos, Willie Pastrano—always it was stick and move!

THE CORNER MAN: If I'm in Vegas two weeks for a fight, I'll send a hundred postcards out. I see a picture with someone I know in the background, I'll clip it and send it to 'im. And boxing pictures to guys in prison—keep 'em happy. A thousand Christmas cards if it's a year when one of my fighters wins a title.

THE NARRATOR: Angie vs. Liston, Angie vs. Frazier, Angie vs. Foreman. . . .

THE SECRETARY: May 4, Detroit; May 6, Atlantic City; May 14, Las Vegas.

THE WIFE: Keeps his travel clothes packed in a plastic bag, ready to go all the time. He can't sit still.

THE NARRATOR: How does he have time to train his 14 fighters?

THE SECRETARY: Doesn't have a training camp, doesn't have his own gym, bus or living quarters for boxers. So many misconceptions about Angelo Dundee. The fighters have their own trainers—Angelo writes or calls and tells them what they need to work on. Some come to Miami a month before a fight. Usually he flies and meets them a few weeks or a few days before.

THE CORNER MAN: I'm an independent entity.

THE BOXING WRITER: Comes into the city where the fight is, calls writers, walks into radio stations, a one-man p.r. blitz—that's why promoters love to get his fighters, even if they happen to be nothing special.

THE NARRATOR: Angie vs. Duran, Angie vs. Hearns. Don't clinch, don't stand still, stick and move!

THE BROTHER: Fifteen percent of the fighter's purse, he gets—a clean deal.

THE BOXING WRITER: Goes in, does his job, gets out.

THE CORNER MAN: Move in, throw the left, get out! Stick and move!

THE WIFE: He hates unpleasantness. Always wants everybody to be happy.

THE BOXING WRITER: Ask him about Hitler, he'll find something nice to say.

THE CORNER MAN: Don't trade punches! Stick and move!

THE BOXING WRITER: Angelo, that's twice in a row your fighter has lost close decisions in Atlantic City.

THE CORNER MAN: Can't get a break here and it's a shame, because they have great white clam sauce for pasta. I love it here. There's even a restaurant called Angelo's where I love to eat.

THE TV MATCHMAKER: A half hour after he's through screaming, "f--- you," at me, he's the happy Italian grandfather with me again.

THE MANAGER: He's Pepsi-Cola—everybody loves him. How can you say anything bad about Angelo?

THE CORNER MAN: Stay off the ropes! Don't clinch! Stick and move!

THE NARRATOR: Funny, the story always seems the same: Angie vs. Liston, Angie vs. Frazier, Angie vs. Foreman, Angie vs. Duran, Angie vs. Hearns, Angie vs. Hagler, Angie vs. Tyson, Angie vs. the slow, stalking, dark, glowering, inevitable force of nature. Angie vs. . . .

THE WIFE: I tell him he's getting old, and he hates it.

THE CORNERMAN: Stick and move! Don't stand still!

THE FRIEND: Who can blame him? What a terrible thing to have happen to your family. . . .

THE NARRATOR: Angie vs. . . .

THE WIFE: Why is it that a 66-year-old man can't sit still?

*****

THE NARRATOR: Still. He's standing in front of a black-and-white photograph on the wall of his office, standing still. He leans into it, peering as if he has never really seen it before. Men in coats and ties sitting around tables, 90 of them, maybe 100, members of the New York Managers' Guild, at the Edison Hotel in 1950, back when New York was the mecca of boxing.

THE CORNER MAN: Look, there I am, the youngest of the bunch! Geez, I know all these guys. There's Jack Dempsey, Al Buck, Chick Wergeles. All dead. . . . Jimmy August, he taught me to wrap hands. Great, great hand-wrapper. Dead. . . . Whitey Bimstein. Cuts, I learned from him, how to close cuts. Dead. . . . There's Artie Curley, Jack Curley's son. Jack's dead. . . . Geez, there's not many of us left. Artie's dead. . . .

THE NARRATOR: His eyes have begun to fill with tears. His finger's not pointing to the men, but feeling their faces, rubbing them up and down.

THE CORNER MAN: These faces, they're starting to ring out to me. There's Little Coco, little guy that hung around with Freddie Brown. But he's dead. . . . Ray Arcel, he taught me how to keep a fighter loose—he'd play cards with 'em before a fight! There's Butter-Wouldn't-Melt-in-His-Mouth Cohen. Moe Fleischer, God love him. He's dead. . . . Lefty Remini, Jimmy D'Angelo. . . . They're gone. . . . I was a watcher in New York; I want you to know that. Nobody knew I was there. Oh, Christ, Chickie Ferrara. Everything I learned from him, everything. How many nights did I hold the bucket for him? Dead. . . . Charlie Goldman, the guy who trained Marciano. My friend! Taught me to always make the fighter feel he's the innovator. You're not the I. He's the I. He's gone. . . . God a'mighty, Johnny Sullo. Jerry White. Al Silvani. . . . How to pour a water bottle—protect the teeth, hold the chin, you can't just pour it in there and chip the fighter's teeth. . . . Freddie Fiero. Cus D'Amato. All dead. . . . Joe Vella. Murray Goodman. Ohhhhh! Felix Bocchichio, God a'mighty! Billy Stevens. George Cobb. Jimmy Voccola—they called him Gaspipe! Dead.

THE NARRATOR: His eyes close. He dents his forehead with the pressure of his fingers.

THE CORNER MAN: Some of the names, I'm forgetting. I'm leaving somebody out that I love. I'm racking my brains out, I don't wanna slight 'em. They're part of me . . . a dying breed. I don't want people to forget.

*****

THE NARRATOR: Fight day! Up at 5:30, hustling into his shirt and pants, moving. Out the door of his hotel room, arms swinging at his sides, his right hand tapping the front pocketful of coins so they jingle, left hand feeling the contour of his wallet, fingers snapping, knuckles rapping the elevator walls. A "good morning" to the maid, a quip and a "how ya doin'?" to the sleepy stranger. Fight day!

THE CORNER MAN: All juiced up, alive. No feeling like it in the world. . . . Well, maybe the day I was married or the days my two kids were born. Lots to do today. First, gotta check the scales. You can cheat the scales legit, you know.

THE ANCIENT TRAINER: A craft. This man has learned a craft.

THE CORNER MAN: Say my fighter's having trouble making weight. I'll weigh myself on every part of the scales. Stick your toes out and stand at the very front or back of the scales, lot of times you can knock off a quarter pound.

THE BOXING WRITER: Bends the rules, ties them in knots. But everybody adores him, everybody's in awe of him, so it's no problem. He's Mr. Boxing.

THE CORNER MAN: Or stand next to your fighter at weigh-in, real close, and lean in like you're straining to see what the scales are gonna say. Have your fighter keep his forearms stiff, then just give his hand a little upward push. Lose a pound or two that way, then get him the hell off the scales quick.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: Stuck his thumb in the cheek of my butt and pushed up so I'd make weight.

THE CORNER MAN: 'Course, if it's a heavyweight and you want to make him look heavier to psych the other guy out, just pull down on his arm.

THE ANCIENT TRAINER: Trainers today, they don't learn these tricks. To them it's not a craft.

THE CORNER MAN: Then there's the surface beneath the scales—that's important too. Second Duran-Leonard fight, I figure out that the scales read heavier up on the platform in the weigh-in room. So I move it up on the platform before Duran comes in and hide behind a curtain. [He cackles.] That makes him a couple of pounds over—you shoulda seen how mad his people were! Had to sweat it off just before the fight!

THE WIFE: Cheats at every game he plays. A disgraceful loser.

THE CORNER MAN: That's all legit! Now I gotta check the dressing room. Enough chairs? Bucket available? Ice? Too hot? Too cool? Does my fighter like to stay warm before a fight? Now count the steps from the dressing room to the ring. I'm looking for the shortest possible path. Any TV cables my fighter could trip on? Outdoor arena—any mud? My fighter might need galoshes. Which angle's the sun going to be coming in at fight time? I want it at my fighter's back, so it's not blinding him when he sits between rounds. If I don't get that corner, I'll con my way into it.

THE FRIEND: Has a way of getting just what he wants without getting anybody angry.

THE ANCIENT TRAINER: He practiced, he studied, he asked questions. Too many people in boxing don't want to ask questions. Fellas don't learn their trade like that anymore—they're too busy counting their money.

THE BOXING WRITER: Anywhere he goes, he has the home court advantage.

THE CORNER MAN: Now check the size of the ring—I'll carry a tape measure. Got a guy who moves well, I like a big ring. Check the apron. If it's a short one, a tall fighter could step back and step right off the apron. Check the ropes. Lot of times they're too loose. And check 'em again two hours before the fight. Heat from the lamps loosens 'em. Lot of people think I loosened the ropes before the Foreman fight so Muhammad could lean back on them farther. Not true. They were so loose I was trying to tighten 'em up. Rope-a-dope, that was Ali's idea. I wanted him to stick and move.

THE WIFE: An edge. He's got to find an edge. Studied tapes for the Hagler fight more than he studied for any fight in his life.

THE CORNER MAN: Studied still photos of Liston before his first fight with Ali and found a flaw. Let me show you! Sonny leaned hard on his left foot and lifted the right when he threw his jab, like this. Just told Muhammad to feint and move to the side, then nail him!

THE FAN: Hey, it's Angelo Dundee. Angelo, can I have your autograph?

THE CORNER MAN: They stop recognizing you, you're dead.

THE NARRATOR: Funny how people walk right past the fighter and ask for his corner man's autograph.

THE WAITRESS: Your order, sir.

THE CORNER MAN: Good morning! You look beautiful today!

THE WAITRESS (grimly): Your order.

THE CORNER MAN: Your glasses are gorgeous, my wife just got a pair exactly like 'em. [Aside:] Be nice. That's my slogan. Kill 'em with kindness. I don't dislike anybody.

THE BOXING WRITER: An act. That's what I figured he was at first, a manipulative Pollyanna. But he's that way with everybody. What's he going to get out of the coffee-shop waitress, an extra cup of coffee?

THE NARRATOR: Up the elevator, down the hall, arms swinging, fingers snapping, hands clapping, knuckles rapping on the wall. Fight day!

THE WIFE: Doesn't show it, but I can tell he's getting nervous. He'll keep checking his bag and his pockets, thinking he's forgetting something.

THE NARRATOR: Showers, shaves, checks his gym bag full of medical supplies with the buckeye and Sugar Ray's mouthpiece inside for good luck. Look at him now in his white short-sleeve medical smock, short and thick and olive-skinned, making smiling small talk: not a corner man, but a South Philly barber.

THE CORNER MAN: Don't wear no fighter's name on my shirt. It's written into my contract—I wear what I want.

THE NARRATOR: Two hours till fight time. Telephones his wife for good luck: "O.K., precious. Bye!" Top left,
bottom right, back right—he can't stop feeling his pockets.

THE CORNER MAN: Top left vest pocket, gauze pads and Q-tips. Bottom right pocket, coagulants: Adrenalin chloride 1-1000, Avitene, thrombin. Top smock pocket, paste coagulants: bismuth subgallate, Dundee ointment [alum, cornstarch, thymol iodide, Vaseline]. Bottom smock pocket, sterile gauze and Aquaphor. Hey, once a guy went to my pharmacist and told him he was picking up an order for me, just to find out my secrets.

THE ANCIENT TRAINER: A dying craft. No one wants to work for it.

THE CORNER MAN: Technique's more important than the substance. People don't realize that. Back pants pocket, scissors, more gauze. . . .

THE BOXING WRITER: Best cutman in boxing. Closed up four cuts between rounds on Carmen Basilio's face in a fight back in the '50s.

THE WIFE: Passed out when they took blood for our marriage license.

THE CORNER MAN: Not me in the corner. It's not me!

THE ANCIENT TRAINER: A dying craft, I tell you. Dying craft.

THE WIFE: He walked into the hospital room, saw our son Jimmy's cut lip and passed out cold right on the floor.

THE CORNER MAN: Not me in the corner! Not me!

*****

THE TV COMMENTATOR: Not Angelo. It's just not Angelo to go hunting for good fighters.

THE NARRATOR: Very odd. A man of his energy and experience and reputation—where's Dundee's stable of current champions?

THE CORNER MAN: I'm available. But I'm not going to pursue.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: He's one half of a great pair. He needs a hunter.

THE CORNER MAN: I'm an independent entity. I don't need to hook up with anyone.

THE NARRATOR: Look at his fighters. Why Angelo and Rocky McCaleb? Why not Angelo and Mark Breland?

THE BOXING WRITER: Not a hunter. His early champions—Sugar Ramos and Luis Rodriguez, Willie Pastrano and Ralph Dupas—he got them because his older brother Chris was promoting fights in Miami Beach. Chris controlled a big group of fighters, but a i promoter can't be a manager, so Chris set up Angelo as their manager.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: God, what a hunter Chris was. Anything that came near him, he caught in his snares.

THE NARRATOR: Why Angelo and Slobodan Kacar? Why not Angelo and Mike Tyson?

THE BOXING WRITER: Not a hunter. How do you think he got Ali?

THE GREATEST: Used to watch him working the corners on the Friday night fights when I was a kid. Liked the way he worked. My first manager was Archie Moore. Didn't like his style. He had me washing dishes and sweeping floors. So I asked for Angelo.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: He needs a hunter. Why is it a weakness to need someone else?

THE CORNER MAN: I'm not gonna hunt. People know where to find me. I'm an independent entity.

THE BOXING WRITER: Hell, he was Chris's gofer. There he was, managing world champions, and still running tickets around town for Chris's wrestling shows. Probably dying to be his own man.

THE FRIEND: That's how it works in an Italian family—hierarchy based on age. Always been like that for Angelo. Chris leading, Angelo following. The wife leading, Angelo following. Ali leading, Angelo following. The obedient soldier—except for that one minute between rounds.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: Saw Chris slap him once. Angelo just picked up his papers and walked away.

THE WIFE: I need him and he needs me. Guess we're a team.

THE NARRATOR: Why Angelo and Mike Hutchinson? Why not Angelo and Evander Holyfield?

THE BOXING WRITER: Then the Muslims move in and take over with Ali. Angie goes along with it because he loves Ali, because it's making him a legend. But he had to swallow a lot of crap behind the scenes, and Ali paid him whatever he wanted to. Angie didn't have a contract.

THE NARRATOR: Fifteen percent of $69 million, if he'd had his standard trainer's contract—$10.35 million.

THE WIFE: We're not millionaires. People take advantage of Angelo. Gives money away to old fighters all the time. Willie Pastrano called, needed money. Angelo wired him $500.

THE FRIEND: Oh, what headaches he had with Pastrano. Angelo became like a parent to him, but then Willie got on drugs. Would call Angelo at 3 a.m. saying there were people in the backyard shooting at him.

THE BOXING WRITER: Maybe that's why he doesn't want to train fighters full-time now. Who wants to kick a guy out of bed and get him to the gym every day when you're 66, to worry about whether he paid his electric bill?

THE NARRATOR: Why Angelo and Sean Mannion? Why not Angelo and Mike McCallum?

THE BOXING WRITER: Not a hunter. How do you think he got Sugar Ray? That was Ali—Ali told Leonard that Angie was the only man for him.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: Jimmy Ellis might have been Dundee's greatest piece of work ever—took Ali's sparring partner, a failed middleweight, and made him heavyweight champion.

THE NARRATOR: Why aren't great fighters beating down his doors now?

THE ANCIENT TRAINER: A dying craft. Money, it's changed everything.

THE BOXING WRITER: These kids come right out of the Olympics, hook up with the big-money people who set them up financially before they ever even win a pro fight, arrange a deal with the networks. It's all set up now. These fighters don't take it slow and learn against a different style of fighter each fight. Lot of them are beating up stiffs, protecting undefeated records and staying on TV, then getting a quick shot at the easiest of the three titles available and making a million. The people controlling the sport aren't boxing people anymore. Shelly Finkel, a rock promoter. Josephine Abercrombie, a socialite. Bob Arum, a lawyer. Don King, a numbers runner. It's all money.

THE WIFE: Angelo wants your love more than your money.

THE BOXING WRITER: Angelo is Flipper in an ocean of sharks.

THE WIFE: Angelo is a little pea in a big bowl of soup.

THE EDITOR: Angelo Dundee transcends boxing. Go and get me a story on Angelo Dundee.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: Boxing died in Miami. Chris and Angelo stopped working as a team. Angelo was left without a hunter—but he's finally his own man, and he doesn't want to give it up.

THE FRIEND: Reputation. That's the only way Angelo can compete with the money men. His reputation means more to him than anything in the world.

THE CORNER MAN: I'm an independent entity.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: Why is it a weakness to need somone else?

THE BOXING WRITER: How many gold medal winners do you think will sign with Angelo if someone else will guarantee them instant money?

THE NARRATOR: But why don't the big-money people hire Angelo to train their boxers?

THE TV COMMENTATOR: Maybe some don't want to share the spotlight. Some know he'll get all the attention.

THE BOXING WRITER: It's 1979. Sugar Ray is a few fights from becoming rich. And then Leonard's lawyer, Mike Trainer, decides Angelo's making too much for a guy that comes in right before the fight, does his job and leaves.

THE CORNER MAN: Stick and move! Don't stand still!

NARRATOR: When his five-year contract expires, they stick a shorter contract in front of him. Then in his next contract, they stipulate a $75,000 cap on his take.

THE CORNER MAN: I knew I should let my lawyers check it out first, but I felt like everyone wanted me to sign it.

EVERYONE: Sign it, Angelo, sign it.

THE CORNER MAN: Everyone assured me of their great affection. . . .

EVERYONE: Sign it, Angelo, sign it.

THE CORNER MAN: I couldn't stand the unpleasant atmosphere. . . .

EVERYONE: Sign it, Angelo sign it.

THE CORNER MAN: I was talked into it, like a little kid.

THE LAWYER: It wasn't that way at all. There was no pressure put on him.

THE NARRATOR: Fifteen percent of $60 million, if he'd had his standard contract—$9 million.

THE LAWYER: Interview Sugar Ray about Angelo? I've passed your request on to him. He doesn't want to do it.

THE CORNER MAN: But I'm not in it for money.

THE BOXING WRITER: Flipper in an ocean of sharks.

THE WIFE: He's fighting city hall every day. He's either going to have to join the big-money men, or he's going to have to. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: No! Never! That's a dirty word. I'll never lose the juice!

*****

THE NARRATOR: Fight day! Hands flying, pockets, gauze, boxing gloves, tape, Vaseline—fighter.

THE MESSENGER: Twenty minutes!

THE CORNER MAN: Fine! 'Predate it!

THE NARRATOR: Pulls an Angelo Dundee pen from his bag, gives it to a New Jersey State Athletic Commission official, thumps him on the back. "For you." Slaps the ABC cameraman on the shoulders. "Great to see you." Accepts the ice bucket from a helper. "God bless you!" Taps his fighter on the butt and grins.

THE CORNER MAN: See these gloves I gotta wear now? They're afraid of AIDS. I can cut off the fingers after the fight and make condoms. Ha, ha, ha!

THE FORMER FIGHTER: Always telling dirty jokes before the fight, always making me laugh.

THE CORNER MAN: You gotta move, Cubanito. Stick and move! You be boss. Couple of shots, other guy'll take a walk, don't worry.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: He understands that all fighters have fear; he understands.

THE SISTER: A softy. Just like my mother, a softy. He was the youngest boy, her favorite. She always had an arm around him, always loving him, always knew when something was bothering him. She understood.

THE CORNER MAN: Always make the fighter feel like a presence. Had a fighter named Johnny Holman with a confidence problem. Had everybody in the gym yell, "Hey, Big John," every time he walked in. I wouldn't even let the Lakers hang around Ali in L.A. before a fight. I wanted him to be the biggest guy wherever he went.

THE BOXING WRITER: Didn't want Pinklon Thomas to even think something might be wrong with him; that's why he screamed at the doctor in Vegas. Best motivator in boxing.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: He understands. Other trainers psych you up before a fight. Angelo relaxes you, gets rid of your fear. Makes you feel your opponent is either dying of consumption or in the tank. "Saw him smoking," he'll say. "Got knocked out in sparring the other day." Makes the guy human, takes away your fear.

THE CORNER MAN: Learn each of my fighters like a book. Each one's a different individual, and I'm a different individual with each one.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: Something very human about Angelo. Something very warm.

THE CORNER MAN: Huggable. That's what Mom was, huggable.

THE MESSENGER: Fifteen minutes!

THE CORNER MAN: Yes, sir! Thanks.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: The least I-oriented person in a profession of world-class egomaniacs.

THE CORNER MAN: Tú eres patrón, Cubanito, el jefe. [You're in charge, the boss.]

THE BOXING WRITER: Probably the first corner man to learn Spanish—that gives him a big edge with Latin fighters.

THE SISTER: Anybody sick or in trouble in the neighborhood, my mother was the first one there. Comfort them, clean their house, cook their meals.

THE GREATEST: Never a boss. Always listened to me. Never forced his beliefs on me. That's why I liked him. Never wanted no white man putting me to work like a slave.

THE NARRATOR: Someone whose softness makes him feel harder. That's what a warrior needs between wars.

THE ENTOURAGE MEMBER: A joke. Ali would say, "I'm going to run three miles today," and Angelo would say, "Great, Ali, good for the legs." A few minutes later, Ali would wink at someone and say, "No, Angelo, I'm not going to run today, I'm tired," and Angelo would say, "Great, Ali, you need a rest." Most of what people think about Angelo's a myth.

THE BOXING WRITER: Sure, he suffered some great indignities, but who except a guy like Angelo could've ever lasted with Ali and that entourage, with all those Black Muslims saying the white man is the devil.

THE MESSENGER: Eleven minutes!

THE CORNER MAN: Terrific!

THE WIFE: A tough guy? A snake in our garage, and he jumped on the trampoline with a shovel.

THE GREATEST: No, he never really trained me. I trained myself.

THE BOXING WRITER: Someone else taught all Angelo's good fighters before he got them. He's not a great trainer, but great fighters don't need trainers. They need someone to draw the best from them, someone who can adjust if there's a crisis in the ring.

THE SISTER: A mama's boy, sure, Angelo was. Came home every day and put his arms around her and said, "Oh, I love you, Mom!"

THE CORNER MAN: Then I'd sing—dun-dun-dee-dun—and dance her round the kitchen. Jitterbug!

THE MESSENGER: Seven minutes!

THE CORNER MAN: Fine! Great!

THE GREATEST: Never told anyone, but I had doubts. After Frazier beat me, after Norton beat me, after Spinks beat me. He made me believe again. Angelo really had more confidence in me than I did.

THE CORNER MAN (slapping the fighter's chest): Look at the shape he's in. Look at the pecs! ¡Campeón! ¡Seguro! [Champion! For sure!]

THE WIFE: Absolutely helpless with tools. I taught him how to drive a car.

THE CORNER MAN (to those around the fighter): I told Cubanito in Miami, he'd be champion. Best left hand in the business. He's so good, it's scary!

THE FORMER FIGHTER: Other guys say stuff to build you up, you know it's bull. When Angelo Dundee says it, you believe him.

THE MESSENGER: Two minutes!

THE CORNER MAN: Your wish is my command!

THE SISTER: Evening . . . drizzly. My mother was walking across Broad Street. A sailor driving, in a hurry, late getting back to the Navy yard. The light changed. . . .

THE WIFE: Afraid to watch scary movies. Every time he sees a sad movie, he cries.

THE CORNER MAN: I lived at home longer than my four brothers. I'd still be in South Philly, I never would've left if my mother hadn't. . . .

THE SISTER: The car hit her, broke nine of her ribs. Six weeks later in the hospital, her heart—it just stopped.

THE CORNER MAN: I'd still be living there, I'd have never gotten into boxing if she hadn't. . . .

THE SISTER: Wartime. They wouldn't let him come back from Europe for her funeral. No words for his grief when he finally came home. No words. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: Went up to New York, joined my brother Chris and learned boxing. I had to leave, I couldn't live there anymore. All the warmth was gone from the house. All the warmth was gone. . . .

THE MESSENGER: Time!

*****

THE CORNER MAN: A tunnel. Now it's like I'm in a tunnel. Don't see nothin'. Don't hear nothin'. Anything that could hurt my fighter, I've got to eliminate. Everyone but him is my enemy.

THE NARRATOR: Eyes popped, neck veins bulging. Two gauze-covered Q-tips hanging from his mouth like fangs. Camera in his face, animal grunts coming from his throat. Second round, his fighter bleeding.

THE CORNER MAN: Low blow! Low blow! ¡Primero! You throw first! That's a butt! Move!

THE NARRATOR: Bell sounds, he scrambles up the steps into the corner, right hand closing the wound, left hand smacking his fighter's belly.

THE SISTER: Come home five minutes late, and my father would reach for the cat-o'-nine-tails.

THE CORNER MAN: What the hell are you doin' in there, Son!

THE SISTER: Used the whip on the boys, Pop did. The two girls, he'd pinch.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: Cursed me, pinched me, slapped me, poured ice cubes down my cup. Got hit more in the corner than I did in the fights.

THE CORNER MAN: Cap pistol went off in my hand once. It surprised me, and I threw it. It went through a window. An accident. Pop beat the crap out of me anyway.

THE BOXING WRITER: You see him smacking James Tillis in the Mike Weaver fight? Screaming at him, "You want to be a bum the rest of your life?"

THE CORNER MAN: It's not me! It's not me!

THE NARRATOR: End of the fifth round, toweling off the blood, squeezing tight the cut, smearing on the Dundee ointment, imploring his badly outclassed fighter.

THE FORMER FIGHTER: My head wide open, blood coming down my neck like it was comin' out a faucet, he'd say, "It's nothing!" and he'd stop it!

THE CORNER MAN: You gotta knock this sucker out, Cubanito! You hear me? Gotta knock him out now!

THE WIFE: Even our dogs don't listen to him.

THE FRIEND: All the impulses he checks, to make sure everyone around him is happy, for that one minute he releases all of them.

THE BOXING WRITER: Nineteen sixty-two. Florentino Fernandez badly cut, the doctor trying to get close enough to see it. Angelo's moving with him, giving him his butt, keeping him away, covering the deepest part of the cut with his finger. Then he says, "You better check the other guy, Doc, I think his nose is broke." Doctor goes over there, looks and stops the fight. Angie's fighter wins.

THE NARRATOR: End of the seventh round, sweat streaming down his face.

THE CORNER MAN: You gonna work for me? You gonna show me something now?

THE FORMER FIGHTER: So much he wanted me to win. All I wanted to do was please him.

THE CORNER MAN: Happy. I just wanted to make Pop happy. A tyrant, he was, but he taught us good values. Pop had asthma, and one time I imitated him trying to breathe, to make him laugh. He threw a vase at me and split open my head.

THE TV COMMENTATOR: King Kong in a corner. Godzilla.

THE CORNER MAN: Not me in the corner. Not me.

THE BOXING WRITER: Not the greatest trainer nor the greatest manager. But definitely the greatest corner man.

THE OPPOSING TRAINER: I was in Frazier's corner in Manila. I never thought Ali could come back out of his corner after the 10th. Never. Most any other trainer but Angelo, Ali would've stayed on that stool.

THE CORNER MAN: Nobody ate till Pop passed the plates around. Nobody. Kept the cat-o'-nine-tails on a hook near the table.

THE BOXING WRITER: Switch the corner men in the Hagler-Leonard fight, I'll guarantee Hagler would've won.

THE NARRATOR: Yanking out the waistband, lifting the diaphragm, bellows-pumping life into his fighter. Grabs him by the trunks, lifts him off the stool and sends him running into the ring.

THE CORNER MAN: The guy is dead! He's got nothing left! Don't back off!

THE NARRATOR: Look at him. Tomorrow he'll step out of his BMW and enter his Miami office in Plaza Executive Center North, Angelo Dundee Inc. on the doorplate. Briefcase. Electric typewriter. Secretary.

THE BROTHER: Pop always wanted him to be a professional. Thought boxing was for bums.

THE WIFE: Died in '61. Never did go see Angelo work at a fight. Never did give Angelo his approval.

THE CORNER MAN: God, he was a tough man. Laid railroad tracks, $24 a week. Never did tell him I'd changed my last name from Mirenda.

THE WIFE: You never did really love him.

THE CORNER MAN: I couldn't appreciate him until we went to Italy and saw what he'd lived through, how far he'd walked with my mother to make it to the boat.

THE WIFE: Oh, how Angelo cried.

THE CORNER MAN: Last round! ¡Último! Three minutes is all I want! Knock him out!

THE NARRATOR: A Doberman pinscher for one pet. . . .

THE TV COMMENTATOR: King Kong, Godzilla.

THE NARRATOR: . . . and an Oriental lap dog for another.

THE SISTER: A mama's boy, a softy.

THE NARRATOR: Bingo! The perfect corner man. Mama Mirenda between fights, Pop Mirenda during them: Angelo Dundee.

THE CORNER MAN: Give me three minutes! Knock him out!

THE GREATEST: I'd look at him during the critical moments, sweating, tears in his eyes, and I'd realize: He really wants me to win. Not for money, not for fame. As if his life depended on it.

*****

THE WIFE: His brother Joe died of colon cancer. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: To retire is to drop. I'll never retire! I'll never lose the juice! Stick and move!

THE SECRETARY: His brother Jimmy died of colon cancer. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: Each fight is new juice. Each new fighter is penicillin. I'll stay young forever because I have these challenges. . . .

THE FRIEND: Not a deep thinker. But a man who does what he wants for a living, has a family that loves him and the respect and admiration of the world—isn't that a good life?

THE BOXING WRITER: His brother Chris has throat cancer. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: I'm busy as hell. But I want to be busier. Who's this letter from? Look, a guy from Phoenix is writing me. . . .

THE FRIEND: Getting more and more frustrated. Wants to do Ali and Leonard over and over again, but the way boxing's changed, he's going up against a brick wall.

THE CORNER MAN: I could do a good job with this next group of Olympic kids. Let 'em know I'm available.

THE FRIEND: His sister Josephine had breast cancer. Now she has cancer of the bone. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: I like that guy Dundee when I see him working the corner on videotape. He's still trying. He's not dead.

THE NARRATOR: Angle vs. the stalking, glowering, inevitable force of nature, Angie vs. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: Goddammit, I said stick and move!

THE WIFE: Gave up cigars for five years, then started again a few months ago. Seems more nervous.

THE CORNER MAN: You got nobody to impart what you got to, you're zero. Worst thing in the world is silence.

THE FRIEND: That one minute between rounds. . . .

THE CORNER MAN: My neighbor asked why I've got a light over my porch. I hate the dark. I'm scared to death of darkness.

THE SECRETARY: His sister-in-law Geraldine died of cancer of the pancreas.

THE CORNER MAN: I'm looking to sprout with Jerry Page—he'll be a great fighter. Robert Shannon, I'm looking to sprout with him. Lupe Suarez, I'm rarin' to go with him. . . .

THE WIFE: . . . and every night, our bedroom night-light on. . . .