"If you buy
five million hungry people hamburgers," Foreman said, "the next day
five million people are still hungry. God wants you, not your money. Test your
god, champ. He says you can kill anybody that harms his temple. My god says,
'Love your enemy, no matter what he does.' Which is best, champ?
"I almost had
him!" Foreman would exclaim later, smacking a fist into a palm. "But he
couldn't accept Jesus then. He needed that Holmes fight for cash; he was almost
"I don't know
why Ali has remained such a presence in my life. I know our fight was the
turning point in my life. That night I first realized I wasn't powerful enough
to control everything, that there was something bigger than me."
In 1978, in
response to an invitation, Foreman took a plane to Za�re. A few yards from the
place where Ali had knocked him out, he stood and preached to 60,000
Muhammad Ali sat
at his writing desk, doing what he has done for three or four hours nearly
every day since he retired after his last fight in December 1981. He tore open
a letter from another child seeking his autograph, turned it over, wrote a
two-line verse—"Love is the net where hearts are caught like fish"—then
signed his name and drew a happy face. He looked like he was about to fall
asleep for a decade.
Foreman wants me to leave Allah for Jesus," he said. "I love George,
but he's the biggest fool on earth. I'll convert him to Islam before he'll
convert me to Christianity. If George saw all the friends I have, if he read
all the mail I get, he'd envy me. They say life begins at 40—I'm just two years
thinks I'm not happy. I'm so happy—I've got my children [one son and seven
daughters, whom he rarely sees except in the summer], my beautiful wife, my
house, my cars, my 88-acre farm in Michigan with three big houses and four big
barns and an Olympic-sized pool...and I've got my mail. Look at this." He
picked up a pile of envelopes from the desk. "Come over here. Am I bored?
Look at this." He opened a chestful of mail nearby. "Come to my
cellar.... Look at this." He swept his hand over boxes and boxes of mail.
"What man wouldn't be happy?" he asked.
In the afternoon
he drove at 40 mph on Santa Monica Boulevard to the Joe Louis Memorial Gym to
work out. Drew (Bundini) Brown, his sidekick in the old days and the manager of
the gym, watched Ali in the ring, boxing shadows. "I just wish he had more
to do," Brown said. "He should be an ambassador; the country should
offer him a position. But this brain damage rumor is hurting him. [According to
recent, incomplete tests at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian hospital, Ali is
reportedly suffering from Parkinson's Syndrome, a condition possibly caused by
repeated blows to the head.] Anybody gets hit in the head for 20, 30 years,
it's gotta have an effect, but it's not as bad as they say. I could go up to
that ring right now and make him talk like 20 years ago.
you've seen everything and done everything, things slow down; you get a little
disappointed with the world. He's alive, but he has no place to put his
feelings. He needs something to love. Somewhere, somebody needs him as bad as
he needs them."
As Ali did
sit-ups, IBF junior welterweight champion Aaron Pryor and Mark Breland, later
to become the Olympic welterweight champion, showed up to work out, and he
invited them to follow him home for a magic show. He invited a man from the gym
he'd never met before, he invited a reporter, and then, on the ride home, he
pulled alongside three total strangers and opened his window.