The Fight by Norman Mailer

The Fight by Norman Mailer

Reading The Fight by Norman Mailer is more enjoyable than one could anticipate. The first chapter of the book is titled “carnal indifference.” The author presents Muhammad Ali as a hero referring to his as the “prince of heaven.” During his practice at the training camp in Deer Lake, Ali seems depressed and takes a lot of punches from the other boxers. However, Ali would typically avoid such hits. Although the training period is supposed to build the confidence of a fighter, Ali seems unconcerned with building his capacity to face George Foreman.

Usually, athletes pick sparring opponents who resemble their future opponents. Ali faces his favorite sparring opponent Jimmy Ellis. After Ellis, Ali trains with other fighters such as Shotgun Sheldon and Sonny Liston all who have nothing in common. However, all through the rounds, Ali lies on the ropes and takes punches from his training partners. For instance, he lets Sheldon hit him over a hundred times on the belly. The trainer assumes that Ali is conditioning his body and getting ready to take Foreman’s strong punches. However, Ali seems distracted by thoughts of losing the fight to Foreman. Therefore, he does not notice his training partners’ punches and avoids getting hit. Moreover, Ali completes the first rounds without punching either of the sparring opponents.

During this afternoon, Ali gets hit by wild punches which take him by surprise. He looks bored and is sluggish to hit his sparring partners. Therefore, when facing aggressive opponents like Larry Holmes, Ali does not get the chance to throw a single punch. However, Ali starts to sting Holmes with punches at the end of the round. Besides, Ali lay on the ropes when facing his second opponent Eddie Jonnes. He takes a lot of punches and tries to block when he wishes. In the second round, Ali tries to punch Jonnes focusing on his gloves with the intention of punishing the fists. Ideally, Ali aims to master the trajectory and speed of his opponent’s punches before facing Foreman in Kinshasa.

At the end of the training, Ali’s head is swollen due to the number of punches he took. He, however, was training his whole body to digest the pain from one part of the body. Some of the members in his crew are uncertain on the possibility of Ali winning against Foreman. Someone asks about the odds of Ali winning. However, Ali has little knowledge about betting and therefore does not understand what 2 and a half to 1 odds mean. The odds indicate that Foreman has a 2 and half times chance of winning compared to Ali’s one chance of winning. Therefore, Foreman was likely to win the fight. Ali’s poor performance in training reduced his probability of winning the fight.

Surprisingly, Ali has written a three-page long poem which he reads to the crew. It had taken him five hours to write the poem. However, the inconsistencies in the poem show Ali’s mental and emotional frustration. Moreover, the poem is not an original but a translation from one of his Muslim teachings. The frustration has also resulted in poor performance during training. Primarily, training camps aim to develop the fighter’s ego which is a crucial aspect to winning a fight. However, the drive had to come from the fighter rather than the trainers and managers. Despite the heavy pinning, Ali finally gains confidence in himself stating that he would defeat Foreman. “He’s got a hard-push punch, but he can’t hit.”