Prizefighting: Playing Grownups

One thing about Cassius Clay. He is somebody new every time you look.

First he was the manchild, the impish chatterbox who dabbled in verse, ogled the girls ("foxes," he called them), drove around in a tomato-red Cadillac, and made everybody laugh when he announced that he was going to be the heavyweight champion of the world.

Next he was the sneering champion in Miami last February hooting: "Hypocrites! Whaddya say now, huh? Who's the greatest now?" And then he was the mysterious Black Muslim, Muhammad Ali, visiting the United Nations, stumping Africa,...