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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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Nearly 10 years after they fought in Za�re, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali met again. Foreman carried 278 pounds and wore black shoes with a hole in the right sole. His hair was shorn nearly to the skull, emphasizing the gladness in his eyes. His tie was loosened and his top shirt button undone to allow for the freedom and frequence of his laugh.

He walked past the gilded furniture in All's Los Angeles mansion, the antique chairs with ropes between the armrests to prevent anyone from sitting in them. He continued past great vases, flowing draperies, Renaissance paintings and Oriental rugs, a gleaming Steinway and two children's games—Chutes & Ladders and Rrib-bit. He chatted with the caged cockatoo and parrot while waiting for his host. Foreman had flown from Houston, where he is a preacher in a small church, to Los Angeles, where he was to receive an award, and something had impelled him to see this man.

At last Ali appeared, taking small, slow steps like sips from a drink he no longer wanted. He wore slacks and a sport shirt and carried his shoes. His eyes seemed glazed, almost as if he were in a trance, but they flickered when he saw Foreman, and the two men embraced.

Ali lowered himself slowly onto a sofa and said, "I'm getting old."

Foreman leaned forward, struggling to follow Ali's slurred rasp. "You're supposed to enjoy that," he said with a grin. "Where's your son?"

"In Chicago."

"You need to take him everywhere you go," Foreman suggested softly.

Ali reached for a satchel of thick religious books and he inadvertently knocked over a lampshade with a shoulder. "Let me show you my stuff," he said. He opened a Bible to a verse in Exodus warning man not to honor false images—and the two men began to circle and stalk each other once more.

"This's wrong," Ali said, handing Foreman a picture of a white Jesus Christ. "Why are all the saints and the angels and Jesus Christ always white? Won't it blow all their minds to get up there and find out He's got kinky hair?"

Foreman winced.

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