• U.S.

Sport: Archie’s Return

4 minute read

The first time he saw North Adams. Mass., Archibald Lee Moore had one thought in mind: to fight his fight and get out of town. That night, in July 1949. he was scheduled to meet a light heavyweight named Esco Greenwood, and Archie figured to make quick work of it. But then, as he recalls it, “I walked up the Mohawk Trail, daydreaming. I could look down from the mountains and see the town and the trees and I got to thinking that some day I would have the means to set up a real training camp for a real fight in a place just like this.” It took him six long years, but this summer Archie went back to set up that real training camp in North Adams.

Now all the whistle stops and the tank towns are behind him. He earned his crack at the light-heavyweight title and won it from Joey Maxim; he knocked off Bobo Olson (TIME, July 4) and won a shot at Rocky Marciano, the heavyweight champ. At 38, after 20 years in the ring, he is ready for that real fight.

“This Is Very It.” North Adams is proud to have him back. More than 200 kids met him at the airport when he arrived to set up his headquarters at the Kenwood Camp for children. A local bartender is peddling a concoction known as an “Archie Moore Knockout Cocktail.”

“This is it,” says Archie. “This is very it.”

This is also the brightest excuse for a heavyweight training camp since Max Schmeling got ready for Young Stribling in the summer of 1931 right in the middle of an undertakers’ convention at Conneaut Lake Park, Pa. Archie seems interested in everything but boxing. He does not tire of driving through town showing off his blue yachting cap (“It lends an impression that you own a yacht”), and his red Ford Thunderbird (“I think a sport should have a sport car”).

He has all the time in the world for the kids in camp; he pitches on their softball team, joins them in archery, and sometimes says grace over their dinner table. Once he brought Manhattan Jazzman Lucky Thompson and his tenor sax to the camp for a concert. There are 200 tape-recorded hours of Lucky’s music on hand at Kenwood. Progressive jazz floats incessantly through the pines and maples. “Lucky is my rhythm man,” Archie explains. “He plays while I skip rope, and this makes a pulsation which keeps me in time. We’re artists who appreciate each other’s work.”

An Honorable Man. Somehow, Archie finds time for work, too. He is up at 5 every morning for a four-mile jog with his 14-year-old pacer, Bobby Cormier. Younger Kenwood boys follow the runners as far as they can, but usually drop out before long. Later come the calisthenics, the bag work and at least three rounds of sparring. Everything is nicely calculated to send Archie into the ring a rock-hard 185 lbs. on Sept. 20 against the fearsome, favored (1-3½) Rocky Marciano.

“I believe that Rocky is an honorable man,” says Archie. “I figured all along that eventually we would meet . . . Boxing is a profession that is as beautiful as it is brutal. It can be as beautiful as an opera. You can see a man’s thoughts, and over those 15 rounds first it’s the introduction and eventually it’s the climax.”

Recently, a phone call came for Archie, and a friend went to answer it. “It’s a lady,” he reported. “She’s a tea-leaf reader, and she wanted to tell you that she’s got it all figured out from her tea leaves that you’re going to beat Marciano.” Said Archie: “Well, bless her soul.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com