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I followed the security man with the pumpkin cheesecake who was following George Foreman. I could have followed the security man with the two Domino's pizzas, who walked out of Foreman's dressing room at about the same time, almost an hour after Foreman's 12-round loss by decision to Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight championship last Friday night at the Atlantic City Convention Center, but he seemed to go in another direction. So I tailed the man with the pumpkin cheesecake.
"That belongs to George?" I asked.
"Uh-huh," the man said.
"He's going to eat it?"
I learned later that the cake had been sent to Foreman by a waitress next door at the Trump Plaza Hotel's Broadway Buffet. Her name was Marie Wilbert, and for the past couple of months she had been serving The George Foreman Buffet Special, all you can eat, $5.95 for lunch and $7.77 for dinner. Foreman had not partaken of the buffet, preferring to eat in his room, but Marie had read about him and seen him on TV and liked his style. When her son read that Foreman had eaten three servings of pumpkin cheesecake as part of his unique preparation for Holyfield, he had encouraged Marie to make one for the big man because she has a special recipe.
"I was wondering if it ever got there," she said. "I sent it kind of late."
"It got there," I said.
I tracked the cheesecake and its keeper and Foreman to the postfight press conference. This usually is a grim piece of business for the loser of a big fight because he is probably hurt and certainly disappointed, and the people around him also are hurt and disappointed. A carefully packaged aura of invincibility has been ripped apart for a nation—no, a world—to see. The loser has been brought back to the pack with a pay-per-view thud. A dim future replaces an electric past.
This was not the case in Atlantic City. Not close. I could see Foreman walking in front of me, taller than almost everyone else around him. He was wearing a blue-and-white crocheted cap and a pair of sunglasses. A comic-strip lump protruded from the right side of his face, at the cheekbone. He was smiling, always smiling. Wherever he moved, trailing a conga line of people behind him, there were cheers. Honest cheers. Happy cheers. He was treated as if he were a politician who had never been indicted, an aeronaut who had landed after a trip in a hot-air balloon. He would have been handed babies to kiss if babies were allowed to stay awake this late.