(8 of 10)
Not exactly. During his 43 months of exile, Ali made TV commercials, toured the college lecture circuit for $2,500 an appearance, received a $225,000 advance for a forthcoming autobiography, appeared in a short-lived Broadway musical, made the rounds of talk shows, got married for the second time, fathered three daughters and bought a $92,000 home on Philadelphia's Main Line with a color TV set in every room, 12 telephones and a swimming pool. If anything, his convictions became more firmly entrenched: "Tell everybody that Muhammad Ali ain't licked yet. I say damn the fights and damn all the money. A man's got to stand up for what he believes, and I'm standin' up for my people even if I have to go to jail."
Recently, a federal court, after hearing evidence from Ali's lawyers that convicted burglars, pimps, rapists and sodomites were given licenses by boxing commissions, ruled that Ali's banishment was "arbitrary and unreasonable." Fight fans treated his return to the ring against Quarry in Atlanta like the Second Coming. Ali was awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Medal after the fight, and Mrs. Coretta King said that he was not just a champion of boxing but "a champion of truth, peace and unity."
As a champion, Frazier finds his peace in cars and music. His new $125,000 home in suburban Philadelphia has a six-car garage, and Joe has a machine for each space—a souped-up Corvette, a golden Coupe deVille, a 1934 Chevrolet, a Cadillac limousine, a Chevy station wagon and a $4,700 Harley-Davidson motorcycle that he guns down country roads at upwards of 100 m.p.h. (lest something happen to their prize property, Cloverlay has declared the cycle off limits until after the fight). When not tinkering with his cars, Joe is scratching at his guitar. As the lead singer in his own touring bluesy rock band called, naturally, the Knockouts, he sees music as his future after he retires from boxing. The mixed reaction to his performances doesn't bother him. "As I went along, started winning fights, people say, 'Aw, you can't fight.' What are they saying now? I'm fighting for two million and change, man. That's why I'm going to make it as a singer. People say I can't sing. Can't sing, boy. Well, I'm going to show 'em."
Joe says, in fact, that "after this fight I'm gettin' out. Win, lose or draw, I'm hanging them on the wall." Maybe so, but if the fight is close or controversial, there will be an irresistible demand for another Fight of the Century. What could change his mind is his share of he purse in the purse in the return-bout clause: one million and change, man. Right now, though, Joe just sits on his bed in training camp, reading his Bible or picking at his guitar and improvising a song about "living a normal life."