On stage in front of the Broadway audience Ali invited Doug to come to Africa as part of his entourage. Doug did a massive sputter not knowing what to say; there was so much going on that others did not know about. Then Muhammad saved the day when he invited him up to his training camp ‘Fighter’s Heaven’ in Deer Lake Pennsylvania. Doug accepted most humbly and the audience was satisfied…
Merle Frimark, The Magic Show’s publicist, just happened to be at the show that performance. She watched the on stage encounter happen with the rest of us from the legs. She felt the buzz of the moment and did the right thing. She wanted to make Doug’s visit to Fighter’s Heaven happen. She knew what to do and made the arrangements for us to go to Ali’s camp…We went out to his camp two months later on Monday, August 12(1974) as the show was down that day. Doug asked Ali if he could bring Rebel the cougar with him and was given permission to do so. I brought Rebel up with Steve & Carol McAuliffe; the cat transporters for The Magic Show.
The training sessions were also backer auditions. Muhammad would show off his stuff to a crowd and look for financial backers for his international touring boxing matches. We had no idea what we were getting into. Muhammad wanted Doug to do a little magic and entertain the audience. But Doug also had other plans for his own PR.
Muhammad’s training camp was run by his family and friends…When I arrived, Doug was already there and very excited…He had come with the chauffeured entourage from NYC. Merle had arranged for several magazine and local paper photographers to participate as well. The entourage consisted of two limousines and a passenger van…(Doug) asked Muhammad again if it was alright to bring Rebel into his training camp. Before he gave permission, Ali wanted to see how the cat acted with the handler. Muhammad kept his distance as I took Rebel on a leash out of his cage in the back of the truck. He saw how Rebel responded to both Doug, myself and the crowd around him then decided it was alright….
There were two outdoor rings on the compound all within vision of each other. The sparing partners were working out in them; Eddie “Bossman” Jones, Ike Williams, Bobby McQuillam and Larry Holmes These were demonstrations to show the public the high spirit and tough level of his training. These men were future champions and used to being the center of attention. Distractions like Rebel were not appreciated.
It was the air of a fair at the camp. About 100 people were walking around watching the sparring and discussing things in groups.