She looked curiously out of place among the ring ropes and liniment, the punching bags and the sweaty, cigar-chewing men—like a flower in a junkyard. She was, of course, exactly where she wanted to be, at the side of her husband Jerry Quarry, who was training furiously at the Playboy Club-Hotel in Great Gorge, N.J., for what he hoped would be the comeback prizefight of his career. Married only 10 months, Charlie (her real name is Arlene) Quarry became the one bright spot in an otherwise drab training regimen. Although some of his trainers thought she should stay away, Quarry was insistent that his bride be with him during his final four weeks of conditioning. And there she was, watching and murmuring encouragement as he sparred four rounds a day, exercised with the trainers and did four-and-a-half miles of timed roadwork. Afterward she would play backgammon with him, clown around, help him to relax and forget that his opponent, Joe Frazier, had all but ended Quarry’s career in a disastrous bout five years earlier. The upcoming fight was billed as crucial for Quarry, who with Frazier and Muhammad Ali comprised a second echelon of contenders waiting for a shot at heavyweight champion George Foreman. Around the Quarry training camp, stunning Charlie was indistinguishable from the Playboy bunnies who wandered by occasionally for her husband’s autograph.
Charlie was Miss Indiana in 1964 and was working as a television game show host in Los Angeles when she met Quarry 18 months ago. She had been married and divorced, and had a 6-year-old son, Kelly. Quarry’s career and marriage were both going sour. At their first meeting he propositioned her. “I thought he was the rudest man I’d ever met,” Charlie remembers. Later, he apologized and a romance blossomed. Last August, two days before Quarry was to fight a contender named James V. Woody in Las Vegas, he and Charlie got married. (He subsequently dispatched Woody in two rounds.) The couple has been inseparable ever since.
In the charged days before the Frazier fight, even the effervescent Charlie developed mild jitters. She was sure her husband would win, but she worried about his being cut. “Frazier is the one who cuts easily,” she reassured herself in newly learned boxing jargon, “not Jerry. He’s only been cut twice in 59 fights. I’ve never seen it happen, and I’d probably pass out.” It was an oddly prophetic vision of the events that were to follow (next pages).
At ringside she saw her husband bloodied
For Charlie, as for her husband Jerry, the evening could hardly have been worse. She had proudly commandeered a stretch of ringside seats, invited her parents and even obtained state boxing commission approval for her 6-year-old son Kelly to attend—minors under 14 are usually barred. For a few opening moments, she and Kelly were able to sustain some whoops of enthusiasm, but as early as the first round it was clear that Quarry was going down to savage defeat. “C’mon, Daddy, C’mon,” wailed Kelly, but to no avail. By the third round, Frazier had staggered Quarry, and in the fourth he knocked him down with a volley of punches that opened up a cut above Quarry’s left eye. Charlie did not faint but she did look badly shaken. In the fifth round Frazier again hit Quarry in the head, and as the blood oozed across the left side of his face, Charlie turned young Kelly away from the sight and pushed him rapidly toward an exit. The two fled just moments before the referee, former champion Joe Louis, stopped the match, declaring Frazier winner on a TKO.
Later in the dressing room, Charlie arrived to find her husband with 11 stitches in a gash over his left eye, three more in a cut over his right. Charlie cried, and for a moment, Quarry did too. “Jerry’s still No. 3,” she told a bystander, technically correct. But Quarry, who knew well that his comeback attempt had evaporated, gently reprimanded her. “Not for long,” he said. “I don’t know for how long.”