George Foreman Shares Heartwarming Memory Of His Last Meeting With Muhammad Ali

Despite the fact that they were once the fiercest of rivals, George Foreman and the late Muhammad Ali came to regard one another as close friends over the course of the decades that followed their glory days as prizefighters. Indeed, as news broke on Friday that Ali had passed away, Foreman joined the virtual worldwide wake for the fallen icon, tweeting out his thoughts on the death of his former foil. Included in his online reminiscences were short anecdotes of his epic battles with Ali and the friendship that they eventually came to share.

On Saturday, George Foreman spoke to celebrity news and gossip outlet TMZ, sharing the memory of his final contact with Muhammad Ali, which occurred in 2015.

“Last year, at the end of the year, I spent some time with him in Louisville,” Foreman told TMZ. “Got to whisper in his ear. He was sickly, but he knew who he was. His mind, his brain, was always together. You could sneak up and give him a kiss. He just couldn’t move much.”

george foreman muhammad ali
As noted by CNN, Muhammad Ali battled Parkinson’s disease for over three decades. In 1984, just three years after his retirement from boxing, Ali was diagnosed with the degenerative condition and in the years and decades that followed, the disease affected his ability to speak as well as his motor skills. In 1997, the former pugilist and his wife founded a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides care and support for those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center remains in operation today and is affiliated with the Barrow Neurological Institute.

Speaking to NPR, George Foreman said he saw Muhammad Ali as a man with a greater cause and calling back in the days of their rivalry, which included the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight.

“What I learned from Muhammad Ali is that he was one of the most conditioned athletes in the world. But to put him down as a boxer would be really not good because he was bigger than boxing, bigger than sports as a matter of fact. He went into the ring, and he didn’t lose because he was fighting for a lot more than just a championship belt and a few dollars in his pocket. He had a cause. He really had a cause.”

Foreman also noted that although he went on to great fortune and fame as the name and face for the popular product known as The George Foreman Grill, his close association with Muhammad Ali is something that fans all over the world still remember to this day.

“When you say the word Ali, it would do something to your heart and make you feel a certain thing,” Foreman said as he concluded his interview with NPR.

While George Foreman came to grips with his defeat at the hands of Muhammad Ali years ago, it is also clear that he has thoroughly dissected their greatest of contests many times over. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Foreman acknowledged that he had underestimated Muhammad Ali heading into their biggest fight, counting on scoring a knockout in the third round. Instead, it was Muhammad Ali who won by knockout, putting George Foreman on the canvas in the final moments of the eighth round.

[Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated]