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Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook that Dazed Ali and Killed King's Dream


Intellectual Fraud

Intelligent Design

Mega Fix

Ron Brown

Popes & Bankers

TWA Flight 800





In his new book, Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook That Dazed Ali and Killed King’s Dream, Jack Cashill un-tells what may be the most mis-told story of the late twentieth century, the heroic rise of boxer, Muhammad Ali. This retelling sheds bright new light on some slighted boxing greats like Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman and reveals the surprising role that Christianity has played in the sports culture.

9. How One Boxer Finally
Crossed the Racial Divide

Those who believe in the great good humor of God and the glory of the American dream had to have felt vindicated November 5, 1994.

That night in Las Vegas, the undefeated, twenty-six-year-old champion Michael Moorer climbed into the ring for just another payday. He faced an overweight, over-the-hill comedian, who had not fought in eighteen months and had lost when he last fought. In fact, sensible people everywhere thought the challenger deranged for getting into the ring at all against the powerful Moorer.

But the challenger, George Foreman, was on a mission. Unlike the Nation of Islam, Christianity provided a useful role model in the person of Jesus. As a young man, George Foreman had needed one. Until he found Jesus, his life had been a sullen, self-absorbed disaster.

After his come-to-Jesus moment, Foreman had turned timidly to street corner preaching. As his confidence and his audience grew, people began to take his conversion seriously. Once he found his footing, Foreman turned his attention to a problem he knew something about, namely wayward youth.

To save the kids for the Lord, however, he concluded that he first had to save them from the streets. “I just wanted to keep them around and keep them out of trouble,” Foreman recalls. In 1984, he and his brother opened a youth center in Houston.

In 1986, uneasy about asking for donations and needing to fund his center, Foreman had launched the most improbable comeback in the history of sports. “For ten years, I didn’t even make a fist,” says Foreman. “I didn’t box. I didn’t try to box. I was done with it. I was a preacher. A happy, fat preacher.”

Never fast, this fat, happy preacher, now forty-five, put the slug in slugger. He may have been the slowest fighter to get a title shot, in any weight class, ever. Early odds against him ran about 4 to 1 before a collective last-minute sentimental surge by thousands of other fat, bald guys pushed the odds against him down to 2 to 1.

For the first five rounds, the Foreman money looked like a sucker bet. Moorer won those rounds easily. In the sixth, Foreman connected with a couple of solid rights, but Moorer finished strong, and Foreman’s left eye was closing. Moorer continued to carry the fight in rounds seven through nine.

And then something happened. The reader can call it what he will—a stroke of luck, a second wind, or divine intervention. In the tenth round, the middle-aged fat guy took control. He started swinging hard and landing. Nearing the two-minute mark, he smote the stunned champion with a right to the forehead. As Moorer backpedaled, Foreman popped him with a soft left and then a right to the chin that could have KO’d a horse. Moorer hit the canvas like a sack of oats, and he wasn’t about to get up. As soon as he was counted out, the preacher-boxer got down on his knees and prayed. After twenty years, George Foreman was champ once again.

In winning the championship, Foreman had earned a fair amount of money for his ministry, but he was just getting started. The Salton Company introduced the George Foreman Grill a year after the fight in 1995. It was the most inspired product endorsement in marketing history. The amiable Foreman sold seventy million of his grills before Salton decided it would be wise to buy out his interest for $137 million.

In his seemingly miraculous comeback—as preacher, as pitchman, as heavyweight champion, as husband, as father—Foreman had fulfilled the potential that he had shown in the 1968 Olympics. He had fully connected with Middle America. It would not be Ali. It would not be Tyson. It would be the improbable George Foreman who first transcended race in the ring. When ordinary Joes, black or white, saw George Foreman, they saw themselves.

This had never really happened before.

Part:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Next article in Jack Cashill's Sucker Punch series . . .


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