like Muhammad Ali yourself," Foreman said. "He's got all you kids
whip Ali," the boy taunted, "you can brainwash me, too."
Ali," Foreman would admit later.
He was in his
mid-20s, surrounded by people but feeling attached to no one, aching to make
sense out of the confusion of his life. The most efficient knockout puncher the
sport has ever known had to keep a bodyguard with a pistol and German shepherds
trained to kill at the front gate of his ranch, and was afraid to let anyone
shake his hand. When he gave his friends money, some said, "Is that
A few months
before the Ali fight, Jimmy Brown had arrived at Foreman's sumptuous California
ranch to do a television interview with him. Brown was Foreman's idol; it had
been Brown's commercials for the Job Corps in the '60s that had motivated
Foreman to get off the streets, sent him to the Corps and launched his boxing
career. To imitate Brown, he had grown a mustache. And now, as they strolled
around the swimming pool, Brown said to him, "You know, George, I intend to
get it all together like you have one day soon."
crushed. "Man, I didn't have anything together," he says. "Here I
am trying to be like him, and he's saying he wants to be like me. Now I was The
Man, and still I had no fulfillment. None of it felt as good as when I was poor
and had just won that [Olympic] gold medal, when I wore it so long I had to
have the ribbon restitched.
"But then it
became all hollow. I investigated Islam, Buddhism, Christianity. I kept
searching for one person to give me the answer. I thought I'd find him in
Africa, meet some great leader. I even kept a Bible under my bed in Za�re. But
I was lost. I'd buy a $21,000 German shepherd and watch it chewing the scraps
in my garbage can."
man," Howard Cosell pronounced at the time, "has been deeply disturbed
by Ali. He's got unfathomable personal erraticisms now. He needs a shrink and a
trainer, in that order."
On March 17,
1977, with a proposed $13 million rematch with Ali awaiting him, Foreman
entered a ring in San Juan, P.R. to belt around the clever but punchless Jimmy
Young. Twice he cornered Young for the kill, in the third and seventh rounds,
but each time he relented. He wanted to go 12 rounds and silence those who had
scoffed at his stamina ever since the Ali embarrassment.