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Since 1952 our fortunes in Olympic boxing have irregularly ebbed. In Helsinki the U.S. won five gold medals; in 1964 we won but one. Significantly, the solitary champion in Tokyo was Joe Frazier. In the past four Games U.S. fighters have won the heavyweight title three times—the late Ed Sanders was victorious at Helsinki and Pete Rademacher in Melbourne in 1956—and we undoubtedly would have won at Rome in 1960 if Muhammad Ali had fought as a heavyweight rather than a light heavy.
In line with this tradition our best prospect in Mexico City is a heavyweight—GEORGE FOREMAN, THE FIGHTING CORPSMAN, as the rhymed inscription on his robe states. Foreman, a Negro of medium hue who wears his hair au naturel, is, in a sense, a spiritual descendant of Ali. Foreman is a poetaster with a proclivity for near rhymes and, like Ali, comes prepared to dwell on himself.
"Notice me," Foreman was saying the other evening in the student center of St. John's College of Santa Fe, where the boxing team had its pre-Olympic camp. "I am a giant. I am 6-foot-3�, 216 pounds, and I cover a lot of ground.
George is nimble and George is quick.
" Ali introduced speed and now speed is death.
I can move to your right,
"I am approximately 19 years old. I am a young adult. Am I still growing? Chances are. Do I have respect for my elders? Respect is a form of fear, and I can't give you that. I'm a lover, a gamer, a woman tamer. Fight a little, talk a lot.
You people may say I talk a lot.
A professor approached Foreman and appealed to him to tone it down, as he was interfering with a lecture on Blake's illustrations for The Divine Comedy.
"I represent an intelligent man," Foreman said, somewhat subdued. "I never plowed a field. I never picked cotton. You'll notice my hands have no calluses. I'm a worldly man. I'm very alert. I think constantly. I'm never violent. If you wanted to fight me I wouldn't be proving anything by accepting. I don't use my beautiful hands on ordinary people. Most violent people feel they have to be violent to be accepted. Man in this day and age is such a violent creature, but the less violence put into the world the less given out.