My favorite Best of Craigslist post is "How To Be A Man 101
," in which the anonymous author explains how in lieu of his abusive father, Muhammad Ali taught the author how to be. The author grew up in rural America and he didn't know anything about the Nation of Islam or where Ali was coming from. But he knew his father hated Ali and as he explains, "...I hated my dad. So I decided I loved Muhammad Ali."
The author followed Ali's career through the many highs and through the low point when he was banned from boxing for dodging the draft. In 1970, he was allowed to fight again and a year later, the Supreme Court overturned Ali's conviction for refusing induction. By 1974, he'd fought his way back to a title shot. That shot was against someone whom you likely think of as the friendly guy trying to sell you small kitchen appliances. But that wasn't the case back in '74, as the author explains:
"In 1974, Muhammad Ali fought a real-life, living, breathing boogey man: George Foreman. A giant of a man that had actually crippled other fighters in the ring. He'd decimated both Frazier and Norton in previous fights. He'd hit Frazier so hard he lifted him four feet off the mat. He'd knocked Kenny Norton asleep. He beat him like a rug the year earlier and Norton didn't wake up until he was in his dressing room. As often as the movies may portray that sort of thing, the truth is in professional fighting it's nearly unheard of."
And Ali was at 32, over-the-hill in the world of boxing. From ye olde Wiki: Almost no one, not even Ali's long-time supporter Howard Cosell, gave the former champion a chance of winning. Analysts pointed out that Joe Frazier and Ken Norton had given Ali four tough battles in the ring and won two of them, while Foreman had knocked out both of them in the second round. As a matter of fact, so total was the domination that, in their bout, Foreman had knocked down Frazier an incredible six times in only four minutes and 25 seconds.
None of that seemed to affect him, though, as the anonymous author remembers:
"Foreman could barely put a sentence together back then - he usually just glared at people if he didn't feel like acknowledging him. Ali, on the other hand, had done the impossible over the past 10 years: he had gone from Most Hated Athlete in America to Most Adored HUMAN on the Face of the Earth. And, of course, he reveled in it. He talked about EVERYthing - tooth decay, racism, boxing, music, magic tricks...anything that caught his fancy. Smiling, laughing, giggling, chortling, merry-making his way through the sweltering pre-rainy season of Kinsasha. Not a care in the world.
Of course, that wasn't true, though. Ali was worried."
Since Ali could not possibly overpower Foreman, he planned to employ the Rope-a-dope, a style in which basically, he leaned on the ropes of the ring and hoped he could withstand Foreman's punches until the giant was worn out. "Years later he acknowledged his fear in an interview with George Plimpton. 'I was afraid for my children,' he said, 'I was afraid if maybe Big George broke my spinal column or something, how would I feed my children?' My God, it's astonishing to think of the fear that must have enveloped him for those three months prior to the fight."
Ali withstood nearly eight rounds of pummeling, fighting mostly defensively until there were about thirty seconds left in the round. This is the last minute and change of the eighth round:
!!! G.O.A.T. !!! I highly recommend reading the post, if only to find out what happened when the author finally got to tell Ali what he had meant.You were. You are.