George Foreman recalls intriguing conversation with Muhammad Ali

George Foreman is on his way down in his 1974 fight with Muhammad Ali/Associated Press file photo


The subject of Tuesday night’s “The Fight Game” with Jim Lampley on HBO will center on the late Muhammad Ali, who died June 3 at age 74. George Foreman, who was knocked in the eighth round by Ali in October 1974 in Zaire, Africa, will recall a conversation he had with Ali some four years after they fought.

“It was the last of the ’70’s, I believe 1978,” said Foreman, who lost his two heavyweight championship belts to Ali. “Muhammad Ali, I do not know how he got my number because he avoided me; he didn’t want to give me a title rematch.  He called and complimented me for about 20 minutes. Then he said ‘George, would you do me a favor?’ He knew I liked him, (so) I said, ‘Certainly.’

“He said, ‘Please come back and beat Ken Norton and fight him for me. They are going to strip me of my title and I can’t beat him George; you can. He’s afraid of you.  I’ll let you use my training camp and everything, but please come back and beat him for me.’ ”

From that point on, the two were amigos.

“That day forward we became the best of friends and we starting talking on the telephone,” Foreman said. “He’d call me, I would try to run him down wherever he be. We had these religious conversations. His children became good friends with my children. That is where the love affair began – right there at the end of the ’70’s.”

Ali fought Norton three times. They tangled twice in 1973 with Norton winning the first fight by split-decision and Ali winning the second by split-decision. Ali was scored the narrow unanimous-decision winner in their rubber match in 1976, but many observers thought Norton deserved the victory in that one.

Tuesday’s telecast begins at 8 p.m. (Pacific time).



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Former heavyweight champion Ken Norton has died at the age of 70

Several outlets are reporting that former heavyweight champion Ken Norton has died at the age of 70.

Norton had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2012. He was perhaps best known for his three fights with Muhummad Ali, of which only one was for a major championship.

Norton broke Ali’s jaw in their first fight in San Diego, won by Norton via split-decision in March 1973. Six months later, that September, Ali won a split-decision over Norton at the Forum.

Ali was scored the winner over Norton in their third fight in September 1976 at Yankee Stadium. It was a controversial unanimous decision, one that enabled Ali to retain his two major title belts.

In one newspaper account the day after that third fight, Norton was quoted as saying he told Ali to his face he thought the decision was a poor one. Norton was asked what Ali’s reply was.

“What could he say? He knew I was right,” Norton said.


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