Former Heavyweight Champion George Foreman on Muhammad Ali
From Fighting to Peace and Compassion
On June 3, 2016, Muhammad Ali, three-time heavyweight champion and one of the most significant and renowned sports figures of the 20th century, passed away at the age of 74 after a long fight against Parkinson’s syndrome. The self-proclaimed greatest boxer of all time, famous for his ability to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” in the ring, was also known for his efforts to promote peace and compassion outside the ring. His 1967 stand against the Vietnam War transcended the realms of faith and politics and resulted in Ali being arrested, found guilty of draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing titles. However, he successfully appealed in the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his conviction in 1971. After retiring, he devoted his life to charitable work by promoting world peace and condemning bigotry — two things that all faiths could relate to. He met with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and successfully negotiated the release of American hostages, served as a United Nations Messenger of Peace in Afghanistan, walked with Malcolm X, exchanged jokes with the Dalai Lama and lit the torch opening the 1996 Olympics.
One of the most historic boxing matches in history was the “Rumble in the Jungle.” Held in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) on October 30, 1974, Ali was pitted against the undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman. Despite Foreman’s punching power, size and sheer physical dominance, Ali won by knockout. George Foreman is a two-time heavy- weight champion and Olympic gold medalist who went on to become an ordained Christian minister, author and entrepreneur, selling more than 100 million George Foreman Grills worldwide. The International Boxing Research Organization rated Foreman as the eighth greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. When he came out of retirement and regained the title of heavyweight champion in 1994, Foreman broke three records: at 45 he became the oldest fighter ever to win the World Heavyweight Championship; he broke the record of having the longest interval (20 years) between his first and second world championships; and he had the largest age difference (19 years) between the champion and challenger of any heavyweight boxing championship fight. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with George Foreman about his relationship with Muhammad Ali and how Ali’s legacy transcends popular culture, history, religion, politics and social justice.
The complete article can be found in Issue #278 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.