By Ken Hissner: On Access Hollywood, he was interviewed and asked about meeting Muhammad Ali.
When I got in the ring with Muhammad Ali, and I really thought I was going to get in the ring with a boxer, a fighter, some tough guy, but once the bell rang, we faced each other his presence was greater than anything I’d ever faced in the ring. Never before nor since have I have ever seen anything like that. To call him a great boxer is an injustice. He was bigger than boxing, bigger than a movie star. He was something special.
He beat me up and took my title in Africa. I didn’t like him anymore. I didn’t speak to him. I didn’t have anything to do with him. All I wanted was revenge and get my title back. But we never fought again, which was good for me. Once was enough.
I didn’t want to get in the ring again with him. I was beating him up pretty good, I thought, but in about the sixth round, he started screaming, “Is that all you got, George? Show me something!” That was all I had with him forever. I didn’t want anything to do with him. I didn’t want to fight him anymore.
He called me the Frankenstein monster. He was only calling me that because I was the monster. (Asked about the rope-a-dope) He laid on the rope, and I, like the dope, kept punching him until I got tired. I kept punching him until I was tired.
He was smarter than me. If I fought him again, he would come up be able to pull a rope-a-dope again but would come up with something else. That is the way Muhammad Ali was. So smart, so intelligent. It wasn’t about his physical strength. He had the ability to do things in the ring like no other.
Asked how losing to him changed your personality) He first called me in the late ’70s. He was on a mandatory to fight Ken Norton again, who he could never get the hang of beating. He complimented me for about 20 minutes. I knew something was up. I don’t even know how he got my telephone number.
He was about the fight Ken Norton again, who could never again get the hang of beating him. He said, “George can you do me a favor. Please come back. He’s afraid of you, and you can beat him.
He’s afraid of you, and you could beat him. I’ll give you another title shot.” I told him I can’t come back now; no, I’m a preacher. We became closer and closer, and to his last days, he was my best friend!
(Asked the last time he saw him) We met in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was getting a legacy award, and I whispered in his ear, “I want a rematch. I was robbed. I want a rematch,” just kidding him!”
It happened on October 30th, 1974, in Zaire, Africa, with Ali ahead on the scorecards 68-66, 70-67, and 69-66 going into the eighth round. Foreman came out exhausted when Ali finished him off as referee Zach Clayton counted Foreman out!
Fifteen months later, Foreman came back in a war with Ron Lyle behind on two of the cards and even on the other, knocking Lyle out in Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year for the vacant NABF title! Five months later, he again stopped “Smokin” Joe Frazier, this time in five rounds. Three more wins and then the loss to Jimmy Young that changed his whole life. He lay on the rubbing table and got a vision, and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior!
It would be almost ten years to the day when in his return, running off over twenty straight wins before losing to Evander Holyfield. He came back with three wins before being beat by Tommy “The Duke” Morrison and, off of that, got a title fight against WBA and IBF champion Michael Moorer. Behind on all scorecards after nine rounds, he knocked Moorer out in the tenth round to again be world champion!
In his first defense, he was fortunate to win a majority decision over Axel Schulz. An easy win followed over Crawford Grimsley, only to lose a disputed majority decision to Shannon Briggs that ended his career at age 48!
After defeating Foreman, Ali won ten straight before losing to Olympian Leon Spinks. In the rematch, he took the WBA title back and should have retired. Not fighting for two years, he lost by stoppage for the only time in his career to WBC champion Larry Holmes. Fourteen months later, he had his final fight losing to former WBC champion Trevor Berbick by decision in December of 1981 at the age of 39!