As we join the witch doctor, a man said to have moved mountains in Uganda and now trying to move some fight tickets, he has looked into the future and seen: "The (Ray Leonard-Ayub Kalule) fight (Thursday) in three stages.
"In the first stage, I can see Sugar Ray trying his level best. . . But Kalule is steady. Then in the second stage I see Kalule intensely fighting, gaining power, while Ray is getting tired, losing hope. Then in the third stage I see Kalule, the lion of Uganda, the lion of the world, hitting, challenging -- left hook, right.
"And then, don't be surprised to see Kalule winning the fight. By knockout. Early in the third stage."
The stage on which Ben Mugimba forecast such gloom for Leonard was an ordinary motel room packed with journalists and other doubters who had been intrigued today by the small notice in the lobby that said: "Witch Doctor Conference."
In truth, Mugimba is a slightly built man with a high-pitched melodious voice whose face appeared from behind a small, hand-held wooden mask and whose tools of the trade are a die, five dominoes, three playing cards and a small, yellow, hollowed-out skull. His powers are extraordinary.
Dare we question the word of Bob Arum?
Or the man Bob Arum introduced to introduce the medicine man himself, Roy Magara, third secretary to the Ugandan mission to the United Nations?
"As you know," Magara began, "medicine men move mountains, a medicine man can make rain, a medicine man, can stop earthquakes and tornadoes. And so this powerful force behind Kalule we're going to witness here Thursday night. Something tremendous. A great victory."
Some of us have assumed Kalule would need every bit of power in his body, every spiritual force Mugimba can muster and also Earl Campbell to whip a Sugar Ray Express headed for a September showdown with Thomas Hearns. Hardly. Arum's imported seer says:
"Kalule, I have discovered, is a lot of power. Immense power. And Sugar Ray, I have just discovered the waves, the weakness in his muscles. He is upset. It puts a sense of fear in his body. I'm afraid that if the doctors don't check upon him very seriously he may not be fit to fight."
It was at this moment that Arum, with just 20 percent of the 55,000-seat Astrodome sold so far, said soberly that "because I think you have to respect everybody's beliefs," he would request that "Dr. Mugimba" be present for the prefight physical Wednesday.
Arum also said he would go to court, if necessary, to have him licensed as a second and eligible to be in Kalule's corner. The man the medicine man wants to help, Kalule, apparently would not want him for his 22nd. He would just as soon Mugimba make himself disappear. Kalule's trainer, Danish native Borge Krogh, said: "The medicine man scares me."
He is a delight to everyone else, with his red and yellow robe dotted with ostrich and eagle feathers, red ceremonial headwear and penny loafers. He admitted to being Catholic, and when he pulled a chicken out of his sorcerer's bag the room fairly exploded with high humor.
The chicken looked like something fresh from the Perdue henhouse.
"In our country," he said, "the chicken is the weakest thing." He hinted Leonard had a lot in common with the limp bird, or soon would. If what the good doctor forecasts actually happens, Arum has signed him to a three-fight contract.
"We are born," Mugimba said of his calling. "My grandfather, my father, my child. It's in the blood. I've never failed. That's why people trust me. That's why they write me constantly." He admitted to not meeting Kalule "directly" before this week.
"At first," Leonard said, "I was a little skeptical of his powers. But after we kissed and made up I think everything's all right."
Leonard was not kidding. He is enough of a showman to upstage even Arum's strongest stunts. Five days ago, just after the witch doctor appeared on the scene, he crashed a Leonard workout.
As Leonard was doing sit-ups, Mugimba slipped closer and closer. That there was a doctor of sorts in the house was announced to the audience of several dozen and Leonard's advisor, Angelo Dundee, began to organize a large-bodied escort out for him.
Pound for pound, Leonard's bodyguards are among the most impressive anywhere. They were about to exert themselves when their boss suddenly sprang from the table and ran directly toward Mugimba. So quick was Leonard and so fierce was his manner that the doctor was dumbfounded, caught without a spell.
He prepared for a pummeling. Instead, Leonard embraced him, and kissed him on the cheek. They have been seen together now and then, brothers in hype.
"My thoughts on the witch doctor?" said Dundee, who has witnessed most of the dizziness known to boxing. "Makes me feel good. If they need the witch doctor, they need help. Then I'll worry for nothin' about Kalule."
One more prediction cannot be ignored. Sitting behind his die and his dominoes, his hollow skill and watery chicken, he said the baseball strike would be settled.