“He has been something special.” In five words George Foreman summed up the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali.
“Muhammad Ali made you love him,” Foreman, 67, told BBC Five Live. “If you dislike him you wanted more than anything to see him again so you could dislike him again.
“Beauty is how you would describe him. Muhammad Ali was what I call beautiful.
“The man was the greatest. Forget about boxing, he was one of the greatest men to appear on television, to appear in the media.
“He was the greatest.”
Until Ali no one said "I'm beautiful" he was royalty, yet common man was his pal. That is beauty. Greatest kind pic.twitter.com/uX7htKHrGc— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) June 4, 2016
Foreman was beaten by Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974. It took place in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and to the astonishment of those watching Ali adopted a ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy and sapped the unbeaten Foreman’s strength. Ali then pounced in the eighth round, putting Foreman on the canvas and the fight was stopped by the referee.
Ali had regained the world heavyweight title.
“Little did I know I would be facing something greater than a boxer,” said Foreman when asked to remember that night in Africa.
“He stood the test. He took everything I had and gave back worse. I loved the man. I wanted to beat him and knock him out but I loved the man.
“He called me Frankenstein’s monster. He was only saying that because it was true. I was a monster, I was a monster.”
When asked about Ali’s fight with Parkinson’s disease, Foreman said more research had to be done to find a cure.
“Muhammad Ali fought the best he could,” he added.
Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers who ever lived, has died aged 74.
Ali, who had valiantly battled with Parkinson’s disease for 32 years, passed away after complications arising from a respiratory problem.
The People’s Champion produced myriad wonderful moments in an illustrious career. His charisma, in and out of the ring, helped make him a boxing legend.
Below are five of the fights that cemented his legacy.
ALI vs JOE FRAZIER – THE THRILLER IN MANILA (1975)
Having lost the first fight and won the second installment of boxing’s greatest heavyweight trilogy, Ali claimed overall victory in a gruelling fight in Manila. Ali described the beating he took by Frazier during the fight as “the closest thing to death” he had experienced but he picked himself up and handed out three brutal rounds in 12, 13 and 14. Frazier’s trainer would not let him out for the 15th.
ALI vs GEORGE FOREMAN – RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE (1974)
At seven years the junior of Ali, undefeated Foreman was the favourite to take home the victory in Kinshasa, Zaire (now DR Congo). Sure enough, Foreman came out to attack, with Ali favouring a counter-punching approach that quickly saw his opponent tire. In the eighth round, Ali went in for the kill and a quickfire combination left Foreman on the ground. He couldn’t get to his feet, much to the delight of a partisan crowd who has been backing Ali from the start.
ALI vs SONNY LISTON – MIAMI (1964)
Then just a cocky young upstart called Cassius Clay, it was ahead of this fight that he coined the famous phrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” at a weigh in that journalists at the time said “defied belief”. Liston was expected to put Clay in his place but the loudmouth from Louisville demonstrated superior speed and at the end of the seventh round, retired and handed over the world heavyweight championship.
ALI vs JOE FRAZIER – NEW YORK (1974)
Ali levelled the series at 1-1 with a points victory in New York. Frazier had lost his world title to George Foreman and was determined to make his mark while Ali, too, was looking for redemption after infamously dodging military service in Vietnam. Ali left Frazier dazed in round two and in an attritional contest emerged victorious on the judges’ decision.
ALI vs EARNIE SHAVERS – NEW YORK (1977)
Coming towards the end of his career (though he still had one world heavyweight title left in him), Ali was predicted to struggle against Shavers, a notoriously powerful puncher. Once again though, Ali defied expectations – after being badly hurt in the second he showed great resilience to take the fight the distance. Ali appeared exhausted in the final round but summoned a final flurry that sealed a points victory.
Date first dazed Dah with a right uppercut and followed that up with a left hook to knock him down before a right hook sealed the deal.
“It’s been about two years I’ve been waiting for it (this fight) since moving to Dubai,” Date said.
“I’ve come off the back of over 200 amateur fights from the age of 11 to now. It’s been 10, 15 years in the making. I’m just happy to have it done at this stage.
He added: “I just felt my timing with this guy got a lot better. I just started getting a range. The amateur gloves are a lot smaller, so you start learning very fast to punch very hard all of a sudden.”
The other fights saw Nicholas Mwangi TKO Patrick Kalisa in welterweight, Lasisi Aliu beat Payu Sor by unanimous decision in bantamweight and Daniel Emeka earn a split decision over Mohammed Aboubkr in super middleweight.