GEORGE FOREMAN still has nightmares of his Rumble in the Jungle loss to Muhammad Ali FORTY FIVE years on from the unforgettable fight.
Foreman was the terrifying undefeated 25-year-old undisputed world champion, fresh from destroying Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, while 32-year-old Ali was a 4-1 outsider, thought to be a fading star.
But Ali, in the searing heat of Zaire, stunned the world when he played possum, using the genius rope-a-dope tactics to let fearsome Foreman punch himself out before stopping him in round eight.
On the anniversary of the super-fight, widely regarded as one of the greatest occasions in sporting history, Foreman remembered the incredible evening and the recurring dreams in which he still does not win.
Foreman told SunSport: “Everybody feared for Muhammad Ali. Everyone. So I figured I’d go out there and knock him out in one or two rounds so he wouldn’t get hurt.
"My corner instructed me to knock him out in the first round, second round, third round, and I didn’t conserve any energy.
"Then I looked and it was the fourth round, and I had hit this guy with every shot I had to knock him out, he had not lost any ground. As a matter of fact, he was a little stronger.
"On the other hand I had not punished him and knocked him out like I thought… I had got a little weaker.
“I was devastated after the fight. I had been a professional all these years, I was undefeated in 37 boxing matches and nobody had ever beaten me I thought I knew how to navigate through anything, but a defeat.
“I was devastated I had nightmares. I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking I’m going to beat the count and I lost the boxing match in my nightmares.
“Things didn’t change. It was a hard time to live through. It was very hard for me to move on.”
I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking I’m going to beat the count and I lost the boxing match in my nightmares
Foreman was starstruck when he first met the civil rights icon who had transcended the sport with his Hollywood smile, outrageous boxing talent and way with words.
And he was floored by the legend’s rapid hands in the eighth round of the sensational clash.
The legacy of the fight still shines bright and has been constantly mentioned alongside Anthony Joshua’s decision to take his December 7 rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr to the unfamiliar region of Saudi Arabia.
And Foreman remembers his old foe and the occasion with tremendous pride, he said: “The first time I met Muhammad Ali it was the most exciting moment I had ever had as an athlete.
“He was the most exciting human beings that I have ever met in my life. I mean, there is something about him that draws you in.
“Even today I think about it and it was a great event. All these years later it did work. It was something special. It was bigger than just a fight. It was bigger than just a heavyweight championship fight.
“People who were around still remember it today and the new generations wants to learn about it, it bridged the gap.
“People around the world constantly talk about Africa in a new breath. And Rumble in the Jungle made a huge impact as far as an epic sporting event.”
George Foreman is featured in a new book MY BROTHER, MUHAMMAD ALI by Rahaman Ali available in bookstores in the UK and Amazon by clicking here.
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