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AFTER THE FALL
Gary Smith
October 08, 1984
Ten years ago this month George Foreman and Muhammad Ali met in the ring in Za�re. While Ali won that war, it's Foreman who has found lasting peace
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October 08, 1984

After The Fall

Ten years ago this month George Foreman and Muhammad Ali met in the ring in Za�re. While Ali won that war, it's Foreman who has found lasting peace

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In his present frame of mind, every piece of ground he walks on is hallowed. "Living in the suburbs is fine," he said, "I get to have kids throw rocks through my windows and leave their bikes on my lawn."

He flicked his fishing line out once more and reeled it in bassless. "C'mon, I'll show you my old gym," he said. "I've got an idea that's going to put it back in use again."

Within a year, he plans to have an athletic center for underprivileged kids built behind his church in Houston, and he'll bus them out to the ranch on weekends to teach them to fish and ride horses. The old gym will be their bunkhouse. "I'll do it all with my own money—I think it's a crime for a man who's made as much as me to ask for donations. I want kids with murder on their faces. I'll trick 'em with boxing and sports to get them straightened out and going to school."

He walked to the entrance of the gym where he once trained and ripped off the boarded-up door. Inside, scattered on the dusty floor around the boxing ring, were an old People magazine with Frank Sinatra on the cover, a water bottle, an open jar of Vaseline, tattered clothes, towels, trash bags—and an ancient teddy bear.

Foreman walked into the center of the ring, lifted both arms and proclaimed, "Ladeez and gentlemen, weighing such-and-such pounds, Geo-o-r-r-r-ge Foreman!" His laugh echoed. "Man," he said, "this is the first time I've been here in years. So many thoughts go through my head...."

"Sure, I could get in shape and box now. I could be champ"—he stopped and smiled sheepishly—"isn't that what you're supposed to say? And nine months from now you'd be embarrassed for me. I've got nothing against boxing. but you should make your million, then run and hide.

" Ali...man, I'm trying to find the right words. He was a tough old boy—I'll be honest—a better fighter than me. But now I just feel sorry for him, I just want him to have some dignity. I'd like him to bring his boy out here. I'd like to teach Ali how to fish. He needs something so he don't just sit there staling into space. I think that's why my mind keeps going back to him. Deep down, me and him are the same kind of person."

Nearly 10 years after they fought in Za�re, Foreman and Ali meet once more. ABC has invited them, along with a score of other former Olympic medalists, to appear at a pre-Games gala in Los Angeles for its affiliates.

On the stage, Jim McKay booms out a tribute to the Olympics. Concealed by curtains at the back of the stage, the athletes are seated in the order they will be introduced.

Ali and Foreman are one seat apart, leaning over the man between them, almost chin-to-chin as they parry for the Prophet Mohammed and the Lord Jesus Christ. The man between them, 1964 slalom bronze medalist Jimmy Heuga, leans back and rolls his eyes. "What have I gotten in the middle of?" he asks.

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