SHADOW BOX by George Plimpton


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The reading room of the Racquet Club. Professional patrician Plimpton prepares for an exhibition bout with ex-middleweight champ Archie Moore by boning up on boxing lore. Peter Blue-Water-White-Death Gimbel spars with him at the Yale Club to get him into shape. Plimpton is unceremoniously decked by a somewhat abashed Moore in front of a star-studded spate of pals assembled at Stillman's gym to watch the slaughter. Typical: these loosely connected boxing reminiscences have a way of settling on Plimpton and his pals. His reaction to Ali's now-famous struggles with the boxing commission: a letter to old buddy Senator Javits that was never finished and never sent. But it leads into the first of a series of Plimptonesque segues--""I could never remember our wan efforts without thinking of Kenneth Tynan. . . . ""So Tennessee Williams, Tynan, and Plimpton are in Cuba directly after the Revolution. They are invited to a political execution. Only Tynan is revolted at the idea; the others are fully prepared to attend, but, thanks to Tynan's reaction, the invitation--and the execution--are canceled. Back to boxing--to Muhammad Ali, from the Clay-Liston fight (Gloria Guinness re Clay: ""He was simply to die over"") to the Foreman debacle in Zaire. Along the way: Hunter Thompson floats in a swimming pool strewn with marijuana, Marianne Moore writes poetry with Ali at Toots Shor's, Ernest Hemingway throws an angry punch at the author, Norman Mailer out-jogs a lion. Plimpton's supply of anecdotes, like his supply of friends, is endless. But he appears to be running out of steam--these memories are pretty old--and also out of the ingenuous charm he brought to Paper Lion.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1977
Publisher: Putnam