MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — Muhammad Ali and George Foreman were bitter rivals who became the best of friends.
On Wednesday, during a visit to Monroeville, Foreman, the former heavyweight champion, took time to share some of his memories of his friend.
At the Inpex Inventors Convention, people line up to have their picture taken with the great George Foreman. But, right now, his thoughts are on the one they called “The Greatest.”
“For me, it’s a great emptiness. And I think the world will note that there’s not been anything before or after Muhammad Ali as far as class and charm, celebrity,” said Foreman. “One of the greatest men I’ve ever met in my life. Your heart beat fast when you see him, and for him to pass is really a hurtful thing.”
First, they were rival facing each Zaire, Africa. The so-called “Rumble in the Jungle,” where Foreman endured Ali’s pre-fight taunts.
“Called me the ‘Frankenstein monster;’ only because I was,” Foreman said. “I’ll miss that boy. I really miss him.”
Then, in the ring when Ali pulled off one of the biggest upsets the history of sports.
“I hit him with the best shots I’ve ever thrown, but you know what, he looked at me as if to say, ‘I didn’t come here to be knocked out,’” Foreman said.
Foreman had the heaviest punches in the game, but Ali hit his face and leaned up against the turnbuckles, letting Foreman flail away until he tired. Then, Ali moved in for the knockout.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “He was up against the rope. He let you punch yourself out, I guess.”
“They called it the rope-a-dope. Meet the dope,” said Foreman, pointing to himself.
Sheehan: “Were you offended by that?”
Foreman: “No, I lost the fight, but it was just a fight. One boxing match. You know, in reality, he’s the only guy that I really felt I lost a bout, a match in the ring. The rest of the guys, they survived.”
But despite the victory and the taunts, Foreman and Ali would become great friends, sharing a deep religious convictions. Foreman a Christian minister and Ali was a devout Muslim who became a humanitarian around the world.
Sheehan: “We’ll not see another one like him.”
Foreman: “I don’t think I’ll see in my lifetime another Muhammad Ali or anything like him.”
He was his competitor and then he was his friend, but forevermore, Foreman will be an admirer of Muhammad Ali, and like the rest of us, feel the loss of his passing.