It sometimes feels as though the glory days of heavy weight boxing are over. Undoubtedly there are some fine fighters today, but they just don’t seem to have the personality and charisma of the famous boxing legends, among them notably are Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and the late great, Joe Frazier. The main difference is, that even people who were not especially interested in boxing had heard of these top fighters, especially Ali, with his unique humor, everyone including your granny knew who he was and either loved him, or thought he was arrogant and cocky!

For all his humor and boasting, when he put on his boxing gloves, Ali was without a doubt one of the worlds finest fighters. Who could forget the incredible contest with George Foreman at Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974, known as The Rumble in The Jungle? By this time, Ali was thirty two and was considered by many boxing commentators to be a faded prince who had reached the end of the road. George Foreman was not only bigger and stronger, he was a younger man, who had never been beaten and out of forty opponents had knocked out thirty seven of them! The man was formidable, his previous eight fights had all lasted less than six minutes and he had already beaten both Ken Norton and Joe Frazier, who had already won against Ali.

Muhammad Ali was very popular in Africa, everyone had heard of him and he knew how to play to an audience, George Foreman, by contrast was seen as uncommunicative, even surly and he quickly lost the P.R contest. Of course, practice sessions didn’t stop at hitting punch bags and eight days before the match Foreman’s right eye was injured by his sparring partner and the fight was postponed for five weeks while the injury healed. This was a golden opportunity for Ali to play mind games with Foreman and he mocked him mercilessly to the press, dubbed him the Mummy and said he would dance rings around him when the fight took place.

As soon as the contest began, Ali started a daring attack and landed a hard right, followed by a series of punches which bewildered Foreman. Ali then went to the ropes and seemed to allow Foreman to hit him. This was all part of a cunning strategy and as Foreman continued the onslaught, Ali taunted him, with comments like, “is that all you’ve got” and “my granny hits harder than you do” The heat was oppressive and Foreman was finding it a problem. Then Ali suddenly launched his own flurry of punches which left George slumped on his stool when the bell rang.

Ali continued taking punches from Foreman, but he also landed plenty of his own and in the eighth, landed two perfectly timed right handers, followed by a left hook, another fine right and George slowly collapsed. The count reached ten, the fight was over and Ali had beaten the unbeatable. So memorable was this fight, that the robe and boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali that night, now form part of the collection of National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution.

George Foreman was yesterdays news, he felt humiliated and resented Ali for years, but time has mellowed him, he is now a successful businessman and an ordained Christian minister. He told a journalist this week that while he doesn’t see Ali as the best boxer of all time he sees him as the greatest human being he ever met and feels as close to him as a brother. He is also planning to visit Ali, who now suffers from Parkinson’s Syndrome partly due to all the punches he had absorbed. There must be many people who would love to be present at that reunion!

Article : Claude Evans – UK Boxing store

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