Have you ever read Shadow Box: An Amateur in the Ring by George Plimpton? I can't recommend it highly enough, especially this morning, for an image it contains of the “Near Room,” a place of dreadful foreboding which Muhammad Ali once described to the famed editor and journalist in striking, chilling detail:
“…a place to which, when he got in trouble in the ring, he imagined the door swung half open and inside he could see neon, orange and green lights blinking, and bats blowing trumpets and alligators playing trombones, and where he could see snakes screaming. Weird masks and actors’ clothes hung on the wall, and if he stepped across the sill and reached for them, he knew that he was committing himself to his own destruction.”
It is almost as if Ali himself had visited the Royal Standard one Saturday night.