Category Archives: Gods of the Ring

Gods of the Ring: Part One, Scenes 8-11

Scene 8 : Outside Marvis’ school

Joe Frazier is waiting in his car / Marvis gets in looking dejected

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

Marvis
I don’t wanna talk about it, daddy

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

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

Frazier
Yeah, go on

Marvis
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

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

Marvis
So whaddowha do daddy?

Frazier
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

Marvis
So what shall I say when they call you Tom

Frazier
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

Marvis
You’re gonna pound him

Frazier
Sure am, cos I’m a…

Frazier & Marvis
Small piece of leather well put together!

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

Marvis
I wanna see that

Frazier
You will, son, you will, now lets get ice cream
You want ice cream

Marvis
Pistachio?

Frazier
You got it

Scene 9: America

Enter the Spirit of America

***

ACROSS THE USA

I was born in Arizona
Moved to Tallahassee way
Now I live in California
Where I always want to stay
But if I wanna see America
I got to leave LA
Cos the open road is calling me
Acr.ooss the USA

I caught a bit of Woodstock
But the Hippies smelt too strange
At Altemont I dug the rock
But then I sensed the change
& now its ninety-seventy one
Saigon’s a firing range
A new spirit moves thro’ everyone
With the sixties all estranged

Cos there shines a new America
As bright as the new day
When a boxing bout thrills all of us
Across the USA


***

Before important actions pass to thought
& build a pleasure dome from the project
Those thoughts ensure a Xanadu remain
Of esoteric sensitivities
On foundations of vivid ideas
When imagination’s endless powers
Protagony combines & modifies
With feelings & affections made ideal,
Admire these two prizefighters in their prime
Pois’d in the cyclone’s eye with one purpose,
America is torn & polarised
Between bad guy, good guy, good black, bad black,
There is no middle land, fanatical
Cabins of moonshine, old men with rifles
Bicker cross valleys, this civil war,
Profusing with spiritual foison
Exploding one nation divisible,
Meanwhile, all aspects of our planet’s moon
Reflect the coming bursts of stars & light,
The streets of Buenos Aires are empty,
From Borneo up to the soft-strewn snow
The world stands by, bistros & beerkellers
The retinas of every Human drawn
To one small square of canvas, brightly lit,
& watching on with eager, hungry eyes
See young George Foreman, set to step within
The ropes himself, to fight whomever wins
The Fight of the Century… & begin!

Scene 10: Madison Square Gardens

Muhammad Ali is at his weigh-in

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
Let me refresh your memory tonight
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
But after tonight there’ll ne no more Joe
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
In a few hours you will all bow to me
{laughter}
I aint laughing, you will all bow to me
{to referee}
I want the exact weight, so take your time

Referee
Its two-eighteen

Ali
Thats dancing weight, lets dance
I’m ten pounds heavier than Joe Frazier
But still I’m looking better than the fool,
Remember I am Muhammad Ali
& evermore the greatest shall I be!

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.

Scene 11:  Madison Square Gardens / Joe Frazier’s dressing room

Joe is praying – the room is very quiet  enter Eddie Futch

Futch
Joe, watcha doin, it is almost time

Frazier
I’m praying

Futch
Sorry

Frazier
That’s OK, I’m done

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

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

Futch
Don’t say that

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

Enter Van Colbert

Van Colbert
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

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

Van Colbert
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, glamourously, stylish
Sinatra’s on an assignment for Life
The only way his fame could entrance make
So scarce are the tickets for this catwalk
Of butterblond 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

Futch
So champ, tell me, 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

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

Futch
Ya gonna weave, weave,

Frazier
Go in on the weave
I’ll never stop my locomotive steps

Futch
Thats why they call you Smokin’ Joe

Van Colbert
Damn straight

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

Futch
Go get him, Joe

Frazier
I’m ready boys, lets go

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

 


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown

Gods of the Ring: Act 1, Scenes 5-7

Ali-jet-magazine-Buck-White.jpg

Scene 5: Broadway

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 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
Chains
Look at thsese chains
Chains – chains – chains


alijd7f-2-web

Scene 6: The dressing room

Enter Ali / he takes off his wig & beard & begins remving his make up / Enter Rahman Ali

Rahman
As-salamu alaykum

Ali
As-salamu alaykoum

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

Ali
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

Rahman
That sounds the harshling cry, Zev Bufman looks
Like shaking apples from a fruitful tree

Ali
Maybe, when they’re all ripe, but not tonight
Or any night with Buck White, that was bad

Rahman
Bad, yeah, Beautiful Alleluia Days
That is the music groove you galvanised
With this scintillating singing of yours
That fell like medicine into mine ear

Ali
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
But enough pathos, how are ma & pa?

Rahman
Pa still drinking hard, ma still Christian
She misses sitting ringside at your fights

Ali
She can watch us squabble at Thanksgiving
Over Turkey best bits & apple yams

Enter Angelo Dundee

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

Ali
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

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

Ali
What was it

Dundee
You’re going to Atlanta

Ali
Atlanta

Dundee
They’ve agreed to let you fight

Rahman
They gave him back his license?

Dundee
They sure have

Ali
& the Supreme Court

Dundee
While you’re appealing
Your born-in livelihood deem sacrosanct
& you may fight, my boy

angelo-dundee-the-corner-man

Angelo Dundee

Ali
Your boy is back!

Dundee
Fifty cities turn’d you down, Atlanta
Be the fifty-first

Ali
I love Atlanta

Rahman
What made them swerve towards the righteous path
My brother walks, alone, despite the bile
Especially in Georgia, whose only
Sports prestigious tourney be the Masters
That rolls on categorically for Whites
Ghouls of the rotten Confederate heart
Enclos’d in the pollution of the soul

Dundee
The guts of Leroy Johnson we should thank
He’s attorney, State Senator – & black!

Ali
I heard him on TeeVee, he speaketh well

Dundee
Morehouse College Alum, well anyway
He pull’d a few strings & twang’d a few bows
& BOOM! We’ll be trippin’ to Atlanta

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

Rahman
You did, brother, you did

Ali
& Georgia too!
I love Atlanta & Georgia I love
I am 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

Rahman
Praise be to Allah! Sing Alleluia!
& 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!

Dundee
The Great White Hope

Ali
Quarry

Dundee
Jerry Quarry

Ali
& then I’ll whup Joe Frazier

Dundee
Sure you will

Ali
He’ll drop like Jack Johnson dropp’d Jim Jeffries

Dundee
Cos you’re the greatest

Ali
I am the greatest!

Rahman
You are the greatest

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

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

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

Ali
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

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

Ali
But what about the after show party

Dundee
You ain’t going, we’ve got running first thing
A nice ten miler made to remind ya
To rise up side-by-side Hercules
Is gonna take an ocean’s worth of sweat

Ali
Hah – let me catch you down in the foyer

Rahman
Alright brother

Dundee
Don’t forget your make up

Ali
{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
Burning as bright as starlight in the skies
Woven in sacred sable tapestries
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought!


Muhammad-Ali-and-Joe-Frazier-press-conference.jpg

SCENE 7: 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

Arum
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

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

Arum
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?

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

Frazier
You got time

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

Frazier
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

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

Frazier
That is the point

Cosell
Joe, what’s your prediction

Frazier
The fight won’t go the distance

Ali
No it won’t

Frazier
I’ll stop him

Ali
Stop me

Frazier
You

Ali
How soon? What round?

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

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

Frazier
Get ready cos here I come

Ali
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

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

 

 

 

Ali
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

Frazier
Who got top billing? Who got top billing?

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

Frazier
{pushing back Ali’s fist}
And what?

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

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

Ali
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

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

Ali
{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

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

Ali
Listen to me boy you will bleed, bleed bad

Frazier
We’re gonna try & see who is the best

Ali
I’m the best

Frazier
No, I’m the best

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

Joe
I’LL BE THERE

Ali
How ya gonna hit me, Joe
I’m too fast

Frazier
I’ll be smoking’ right on you

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

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

Exit Joe Frazier

Ali
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

Arum
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, what’s the status
Of your case

Arum
I’m sorry, that will be all

Exit Bob Arum & Muhammad Ali


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

 

 

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown

Gods of the Ring: Act 1, Scenes 2-4

SCENE 2: MIAMI

5th Street Gym – Foreman is training with his trainer, Dick Sadler – Enter Ali carrying a suitcase

Ali
George Foreman! George Foreman! How ya diddling

Foreman drops his mitts with joy

Foreman
Cassius Clay!

Ali
That aint my name no more
That my slave name

Foreman
Sorry man

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

Ali
I was down in sunny Florida boys
& boxers are the only ones who dig
Truly what its 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?

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

Ali
Busy boy

Dick
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?

Ali
You aiming for Frazier

Foreman
If he’s champ, yeah

Ali
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

Ali reveals a portable phone – Forman laughs

Ali
What’s so funny?

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

Ali
You want it

Foreman
Say what?

Ali
It’s yours for twelve hundred dollars

Foreman
Brother, I aint got that kinda money

Dick
He will have one day, tho’

Ali
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

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

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

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

Ali
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

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

Dick
Your famous gift for scrying things to pass
As acccurate 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

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

Foreman
The what

Ali
The phone
You can have it for nine hundred dollars

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

Dick
He don’t be needing no portable phone

Ali
No sweat, I’m sorry to disturb you boys
& see you both some time along the line

Foreman
Goodbye Muhammad

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

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
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 3: Philadelphia

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

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

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

Joe Frazier & Eddie Futch appear at the door

Frazier
What’s all this commotion

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

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

Ali
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

Frazier
You what!

Ali
Lets go & fight in Fairbank Park

Frazier
You’re crazy man

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

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

Ali
I want you Joe

Frazier
I want you too

Ali
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

Frazier
See what I do to your pretty face, Clay

Ali
Whaddaya call me?

Frazier
Clay… Cassius Clay

Ali
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?

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

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

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

Ali
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

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

Frazier
Yeah, so did I

Eddie
Funny way to show it

Frazier
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?

Eddie
You wanna fight that schmuck

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

Eddie
So back to work, focus on Joe Ellis

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

Eddie Futch & Joe Frazier re-enter the gym


SCENE 4: Fairbank Park, Philadelphia

Muhammad Ali is surrounded by a large crowd chanting ‘Ali-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

Ali
He sure is
& 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

Crowd
Broadway

Ali
Yeah
To sing a heap of songs in Uncle Buck

Crowdmember 2
Right on

Crowdmember 3
Give us a song

Ali
You’ll have to wait
But boy, am  Ithe world’s greatest singer

Exit Ali & crowd


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown

Gods of the Ring: Act 1, Prologue-Scene 1

stars_and_stripes_by_divinedesign


The Greatest Play Ever Written


PROLUSION

Enter the Spirit of America & her angels

Angels
The Spirit of America shall speak

America
O for a Muse of air, that would transcend
The lightest season of convincive art,
As here, as erst upon an antique stage,
I rise to thee a proud exordial,
Long sent to steer this vessel of repute
Across a raft of retrospective wits
Adorning this gymnic Conchordia
Uploaded with prologean Chorus,
Such dainty diversions stand antidote
To times of dull labour, outstandingly,
To live thro’ deeds, not years, thro’ thoughts, not breath,
Thro’ intimacies of imitancy
Rare souls yet rouse Humanity to ken
Fair prospers capabilities within
Each all of us to be a living God
Admir’d & worship’d widely ‘cross the world
My golden theme such Giants of the Sun
Melded ankle-deep, brutal gang of three,
Forming a cosmic counterpoint to life
Four years of fabulous entanglements
As much excitement as a night can bear
As much commotion as a land can stand
Exploding beyond borders thro’ the Globe
Pantomimean pandemonium
Of boxing; its burlesque imperative,
Its irreproducable accident
Of history; its outstanding resolve
Thro’ acts of beauty, countrymen come hear
The names of our three principles, Ali
Frazier & Foreman – hear the angels sing

Angels
Welcome, yes welcome, ye Gods of the Ring

***

OVERTURE

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

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

Angels
Welcome ye Gods of the Ring

 

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

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

Angels
Welcome ye Gods of the Ring

***


CC27-Comparo-Eldo-f3qtr-4

SCENE 1: 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

Ali
Hey, man, nice wheels

Frazier
Front-drive Eldorado

Ali
The Queen o’ Cadillacs I heard ’em say

Frazier
So where you wanna go

Ali
The bus station

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

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

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

Ali
I dig that, brother, your soul is shining
You got good days ahead, too, good money
You got Mac Foster coming up; Foreman –
George Foreman – both million-dollar gates
Rip’ning all the time, beautiful paydays
You got it made if you just play it cool,
But big up the truth, man, if you fought me,
Would you be scared?

Frazier
No, man, honest to God

Ali
You really wouldn’t be

Frazier
No kinda way

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

Frazier
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 I am moving in.

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

Frazier
We all know a time of learning.

Ali
You believe you learnt enough to fight me?

Frazier
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

Ali
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

Frazier
I’m ready now to beat you fair & square

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

Frazier
I’m sure I could stop you before fifteen.

Ali
You really do?

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

Ali
It’s impossible to dodge my jab

image-51

Frazier
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.

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

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

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

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

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

Frazier
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.

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

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

Ali
But you don’t have no jab.

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

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

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

Ali
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.

Frazier
What you want me to do?

Ali
And I fought
Zora Folley & Cleveland Williams

Frazier
Which one you want me to fight?

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

Frazier
Oh, like Joe Louis
& Jack Johnson

Ali
Damn straight, that’s who I think.

Frazier
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.

Ali
But you be on your ownsome lonesome, too

Frazier
That’s the only way I know how to be.

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

Frazier
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 outpsych Houdini easy than me

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

Frazier
Who say you gonna last that –

Ali
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, nothing but 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 the unstoppable left hooks

Frazier
{exploding}
Sounds like you done won the fight already–

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

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

Ali
You say what you say when I’m through

Frazier
Go & muzzle up that Nostradamus

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

Frazier
Scared?

Ali
Yeah. Now, in the fourth round–

Frazier
{angry}
It’s coming off!
This fight has got to come off!

Ali
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

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

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

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

Ali
{shrugs}
You have a right to say that, as have I

Frazier
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

Ali
No! Listen! Don’t you try my predicting

Frazier
I’m telling you

Ali
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

Ring Magazine Cover - Joe Frazier and Jerry Quarry

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

Ali
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 triggerhappy dilettante
I got no quarrel with the Vietcong
No Vietcong ever call’d me nigger
Those Vietcong don’t put no dogs on me
Nor robb’d me of my nationhood, hey look
Its the station, pull over

Frazier
Sure thing, man

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

Frazier
Yeah

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

Frazier
Hah! Of course man

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

Frazier
Here’s a hundred bucks

Ali
You’re a good brother,
Better friend, farewell & be prosperous

Exit Muhammad Ali


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The world’s leading exponent of Dramatic Blank Verse

***

Articles:

Composing Conchordia, Provence

Composing Conchordia: Vaulting the Lockdown