The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 122
June 3rd. Payday. My birthday. Plans? Yeah, ignore all the silly birthday greetings from my FB friends, buy groceries, and, in the early evening, watch (or re-watch, rather) the Rumble in the Jungle.
It was that first round that set it all up. NINE right hand leads thrown and landed by Ali—the precise opposite of the “stay clear of Foreman’s power” tactics employed by both Norton and Frazier—who big George then proceeded to walk down and knock out in the second round of those contests. The Ali strategy made sense, in a way, still it was mind blowing and crazy. Most pre-fight analysts, Ali’s corner people included, assumed he’d dance and jab. Instead he was going toe to toe with the hardest hitting heavyweight the game had ever seen. And it worked. It wrecked Foreman’s confidence and pride. Shamed him. Made him look foolish.
Then the old “rope a dope” routine, only with a flurry of combinations to Foreman’s face near the end of each round.
Staggered in the 4th and 5th, his left eye swollen closed midway through the 6th, Foreman appeared spent.
In the 7th, Joe Frazier, a ringside commentator at the event—the same Joe Frazier Foreman had taken the title from a year earlier—remarked: “Something tells me George ain’t gonna make it.”
I stopped the video there, went for another beer, and just as I was about to resume the fight…
It was a Personal Message from my only FB friend who I considered a real friend, in the real world, Sharon. The message read: “Ali is dead. Bow down for the champion.”
I Googled “Muhammad Ali”. It was true. The real Ali—the 74 year old Louisville Lip, the Civil Rights icon, the greatest boxer of all time, the man who refused induction into the US military, the Muslim, the old man with Parkinson’s…
THAT Ali—had just died.
On my birthday.
As I relived his masterpiece.