By Edward E. Felder, Jr.
He had just been slapped in the face with such venom you’d swear his cheekbone was shattered and he’d had a few teeth dislodged. Despite the heinous punch he’d just absorbed, he wore a Cheshire’s grin on his swollen face. Perhaps, he’d lost and regained consciousness while stumbling on his feet?
If you figured he’d try running away from the pain, you’d be sadly mistaken. He just stood, stared and smiled a lot. It was as if he was saying, I’m good! No really I’m good! Don’t cry for me Argentina!
While the astonished bystanders were wincing at the pain he’d just received, he was most likely thinking:
“I’d wrestled with an alligator, I tussled with a whale; I handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”
It was completely baffling, The loudmouth who’d called himself pretty, who’s joke goes like; “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am,” appeared inches and moments away from being hospitalized by the monstrous haymakers that were lighting up his liver, crushing his larynx, and cutting off his lateral movement. In all honesty, nothing was pretty about the walloping he was being administered.
Was this poetic justice?
Days earlier, he had quipped, “If you ever dreamed of beating me in your sleep, you’d better wake up and apologize to me.” Gone were his one-liners about “floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.” His facial expression begged for a genie in a bottle, to grant his escape, from what could only be described as a festering hornet’s nest.
In the eyes of the 60,000 fans collectively holding their breaths, it appeared Ali was shadow boxing, while the bruiser was carving up Ali, and beating him to pulp.
His fans screamed. “Ali Bomaye! Ali Bomaye!” “Kill him Ali! Kill him Ali!” It was all a pipe dream. They prayed Ali wasn’t plowed into the first row. If things didn’t change quickly, Ali’s flesh, blood, and what was left of his mauled body, would be permanently entwined with the ropes he’d been clinging to, for dear life!
There was no defying the odds, or chance at a truce! Ali had gone too far with his theatrics, unleashing a brutal tongue lashing against the scorned Goliath. No sooner than the announcer screamed “Are you ready to Rummmmmbble?” The melee dubbed, “The Rumble in the Jungle” seemed destined for a new headline – “Murder on The Orient Express!”
There would be no whodunit twist or teasing. The culprit, George Foreman, was big, bold, and unabashed about smashing the mouth of the ‘loud mouth’.
Boxing aficionados, including many of Ali’s closest allies like ‘The Fight Doctor’ Freddie Pacheco and legendary fight announcer Howard Cosell pleaded with Ali to walk away, simply walk away – from the behemoth billed as the “The Baddest Man on the Planet!”
After witnessing Foreman (40-0, 37 knockouts) spank undefeated heavyweight champ, Joe Frazier like he stole something expensive; (no scratch that) something priceless; then toss the #1 challenger, Ken Norton, Jr., around like a slinky down a steep flight of stairs, they simply wanted Ali to avoid Foreman’s grilling.
In their minds, it was a forgone conclusion, Ali would be ridiculed, ripped to shreds, and possibly laid to rest; especially, if Foreman held true to his promise to kill someone in the ring, he promised to kill Ali! Foreman was no snake oil salesman, he truly planned to maim the disrespectful Mohammed Ali. That bout wasn’t business as usual, it was personal.
More than ever, Ali’s brain-trust were convinced that Ali had no business putting his hat in the ring. Ali wasn’t strong enough to withstand Foreman’s ungodly arsenal of body blows.
Ali was too slow to avoid the cataclysmic cannons Foreman would bequeath, Ali’s kidneys. Ali wasn’t nimble enough to dance the right way.
Perhaps, he was no longer wise enough either. They’d wished like hell, that Ali steered clear of the Woolly Mammoth.
Did Ali know the fury he had aroused in the beast? Was he oblivious of the pain that would be afflicted upon him by Foreman? Rumors swirled, that Ali had a secret strategy that would overcome and outwit Foreman. Hmm!
Was there a method to Ali’s madness?
Was this simply more Ali’s gamesmanship or pontificating?
In the blink of an eye, Foreman buried a left hook deep into Ali’s liver, Ali winced and a single tear, betrayed Ali; signaling to Foreman, that he was indeed putting a whopping of epic proportion on Ali. Foreman was no longer chasing waterfalls, true to his word, he was looking to bury Ali.
A series of devastating uppercuts, followed by, a stone fist to Ali’s temple, seemingly, wobbled the head, heart, and will of Ali. Ali was being baptized in a sea of unforgiving kidney punches.
Would the bout be mercifully halted? Ali’s famous boxing trainer surely had the white towel within reach.
Why wouldn’t the stubborn Ali stay off the ropes? Simply stay off the ropes! Did Ali take the fight because he was still reveling in his old press clippings? Would the ropes be sturdy enough, to keep Ali from landing in Cosell’s lap?
There was no place to escape. The onslaught wouldn’t stop. It was constant, and severe!
Ali’s corner implored him to dance. Just dance!
Snippet, from my recently released book entitled “ Let Them Eat Cake: Haters Gonna Hate, Bankers Gonna Deny, YOU BUILD WEALTH!
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