"Aw, I did that for my father, Henry," Bramble said at breakfast a few days before the fight when he was wearing a T shirt with this message: VOODOO WILL TURN BOOM BOOM INTO LIVING STONE.
"I've been a Rastafarian since 1971." Bramble said. "We believe in Jah. I don't believe in that voodooism. My father does. For this fight, my father said to me, 'Son, I want to help you. Please let me do this for you.' I told him O.K., that I would give him one round. So I brought in Mr. Doo, who I have known for 13 years. I know he put a spell on Mancini, but I don't know what it is. I don't know anything about his job."
Soon Mr. Doo would be promoted to Dr. Doo. Dressed in a black derby, dark sunglasses, a colorful dashiki and holding a cane with a golden dog's-head handle, the silent sorcerer didn't seem to do much. But then he had only three minutes in which to work Friday night.
The rest of the rounds Bramble would give to his seven sisters and two brothers and to his 2-year-old son, Alvja, which means Fight for Jah. "I always share a round with someone," said Bramble. "I ask them before a fight what I should do. For her round my sister Eurydice said, 'Bust his mouth.' My sister Lavern said I should knock him out. My sister Portia said I should beat on him. I listen to them all and put it together. But the first round is always mine. Sometimes I share a round with two people so I can draw on their double strength. And when I got a guy hurt, my sister Lavern always comes on. She's 16 and she used to spar with me. She was good, but I never hit her."
But Bramble has hit plenty of his opponents. Before Friday he had had only one defeat (by Anthony Fletcher in 1981) and one draw in 22 fights and held the WBA's No. 1 ranking. After Bramble beat Rafael Williams in 10 rounds last January, the WBA made him the mandatory challenger for Mancini's title. That was pretty lofty for a kid who had never fought anywhere but in New Jersey.
"Livingstone Bramble is not like a normal fighter," Bramble says. "I dictate my own pace. I don't respect no opponent. I don't have no fear. I fear no one but Jah. I don't have a style. I have good punches. I move my head. I confuse people. I know that Jah will find a way for me to win. I have sat down and tried to find a way to beat me, and I have failed."
With that he reached into his pocket and popped something into his cup of tea.
"I don't know," he said, fishing out a small piece of curled dark bark. "Mr. Doo gave it to me and said it would be good for my soul. He said to put it into my tea and enjoy it."
"Does it work?"