me!" he yelled, "Come to my house!"
They looked at
him like he wasn't real, then joined the six-car, 20-person convoy headed
toward Ali's mansion. In the backseat of Ali's car, 12-year-old Muhammad Jr.
cupped his mouth and called out like a circus barker, "Everyone follow the
great Muhammad Ali!"
By 1980 Reverend
Foreman had begun to realize that spewing passages from the Bible wasn't enough
and had left his first church, bought an acre of land and the prefab building,
and started a church where no one spoke in tongues or frothed at the mouth. But
he still couldn't let go of the distrust of people he'd built up on street
corners and in boxing gyms.
He married for a
third time in 1981; his first marriage, in 1972, had produced one child. His
second, in 1981, was childless. Six months after that third marriage he lay on
the floor of his bedroom for an entire night, sobbing and clutching a bedpost.
She, too, had gone. Then, in 1982, he got married for a fourth time, to Andrea
Skeet, from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. In June of '83, he came home to
find his house emptied of wife, their two children, Freeda and George III,
pictures and clothes.
He sank to his
knees and stared through his tears at the wreckage of his life. The man who had
ranted "Love thy neighbor!" on street corners couldn't properly love
the mothers of his children. The four women he had married and his five
offspring—two of his children were born to women George hadn't married—were
gone. He was alone.
A frenzy seized
him. Suddenly, all salvation seemed to lie in finding Freeda and George III,
whom his wife had taken to St. Lucia. He knew he must act quickly or he might
never see them again. It would be dangerous; Andrea's family played a prominent
role in the island's government, and the moment the ex-world champion stepped
onto the tiny island, everyone would know.
He flew to
Barbados and chartered a plane for the 100-mile flight to St. Lucia, where he
sneaked past customs. He hid behind a tree on the beach while his luggage was
checked through, then he was whisked to a hotel and checked in under a false
name. He looked at himself, lying and hiding, and wondered what had become of
him. But something he couldn't comprehend drove him.
thousand-dollar bribes, he discovered the hotel where Andrea and his two
children were staying. That night he went there with Erma Compton. a local
woman who'd agreed to help him—ironically, she had once sued Foreman for
beating her. Compton knocked on the door and told the kids' nanny she wanted to
leave a note for the mother. Foreman burst in, swept up the children, and
returned to his hotel.
you want?" he cried, hugging his children ferociously.
"I want a
McDonald's," declared 6-year-old Freeda.