I love this man. I do. It’s easy to see why his opponents wouldn’t like him since he talked so much trash…but he backed it up. Part of his process to prepare himself mentally was to talk about his strengths and his opponents weaknesses. I noticed this while watching When We Were Kings. He kept saying that George Foreman was scared and slow, that he was the greatest, and rejoiced in hearing and chanting “Ali, bomaye!” meaning “Ali, kill him!”
The background story to this fight is pretty interesting: In 1964, Ali beats Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight boxing champion at 22. In 1967, after refusing to be drafted in the Vietnam war, Ali is stripped of his title. After three and a half years, he is reinstated and at 29 must fight Joe Frazier in order to regain his title. Ali loses to Frazier in 1971 after 15 rounds. In 1972, relative unknown, Kenny Norton, breaks Ali’s jaw and defeats him after 15 rounds. Ali is considered to be finished. Frazier loses his title to George Foreman in 1973. Then, in order to become the champ again, Ali must contend with Foreman, who is undefeated and ten years younger. At the time, Ali’s record was 44-2 and Foreman was 40-0 with 37 KOs. Talk about a formidable opponent. It’s a good chance that the only person who thought Ali could beat Foreman was Ali himself. Really, that was all that mattered.
When We Were Kings documents the six weeks the fighters spent in Kinshasa. (Don’t waste your time looking for Zaire on the map because that name was abandoned for a return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.) It’s lots of fun to watch and makes you wish for a time travel machine. A must-see documentary that won an Academy Award in 1997.
Watch it! Buy it here.
Aside from his skill as a boxer, Ali is respected for his fearlessness and his “do for self” attitude. According to Wikipedia, even as late as 2007, he traveled about 200 days out of the year, lending his name and presence to causes he supports. The more I learn about this tactician, the more I like him. Good…I’m inspired.
Now…does anyone have a video or information leading to a video of Ali on the Mike Douglas show with Sly Stone on July 14, 1974? If so, email me.