About Foreman, it was said that “he thought that the best way to deal with the world was just to become a monster.” (Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated.) Meanwhile, during his Micky Burns interview on Profiles (c 2013), he affirmed “I was a boxer and I remember these [my left hand] were my referee and these [my right hand] was my judge. My hope was that I was going to kill someone in the ring so that they’d really [be afraid.]” Tyson, like even Hagler, seems to have used the ring to prove his worth and battle against his torment. In his words, “I used Islam because I was bitter at the world.” By the end of his fight with Kevin McBride, his heart was with boxing no longer. It was no longer his passion. Fighting to take care of his bills, and no longer a ferocious animal, Tyson decided against disrespecting the sport further, and expressing regret and disappointment, he revealed his despair. Congratulating Kevin, he conceded “I’m sorry I let everybody down; I just don’t have this in my heart no more. I don’t love this no more.” “I’m just tired of fighting.” He ends the Tyson documentary explaining,”I had all of these things in life but none of them fulfilled that big hole.”
Although Tyson stands as the youngest heavyweight champs, despite the achievements of Hopkins, Foreman remains the oldest heavyweight Champ. It might be said that there were as many comparisons to be drawn between the lives of the two heavyweights, than one might expect. After retiring from the Ring in 1977, following his points loss to Jimmy Young (a fight which involved the fourth and, although dubious, last knockdown of his career) he retired from the Ring only to return in 1987 (March 9), aged 38, stopping journeyman Steve Zouski. Six years later, following his strategic, slow start, Foreman went on to fight Holyfield, only to lose on a decision. It seemed as if his title shot opportunity had been missed, but after Holyfield was stunned, on points, by Moorer, Foreman got his chance. In 1994, knocking out the undefeated Moorer in the 10th round, history was made. Foreman redeemed himself regaining the title he lost 19 years prior. Foreman would later retire, 1996, after a points defeat to Shannon Briggs, with his final record being 76(68)-0-5. His only knockout was his shock loss – which was also his first defeat – to an Ali (44(31)-2, who, incidentally, had been beaten, on points, to “round 2” Foreman victims, Norton and Frazier (Frazier’s “0” was taken by Foreman.)
Like Tyson, there was more to Foreman. If indeed, “he thought that the best way to deal with the world was just to become a monster”, “beneath it was always that softness that he was trying to hide.“ Like Tyson, prime Foreman “gave off the persona of someone who was just hateful and mean and didn’t care what you thought, didn’t care anything about the rules, didn’t care anything about life.” Hitting Frazier with a rabbit shot, and taunting his bruised body in the earlier round seemed to evidence this, as did Foreman hitting a falling Norton on two of the three occasions he was collapsing. (Unlike Foreman, Ali restrained himself when Foreman was going down following Ali’s mesmerising eight round flurry.) Foreman stepped into the ring imagining he would also defeat Ali in the second round but instead, left learning that “that facade was a joke and that he really was a vulnerable man behind that monster.” Zaire took his confidence (selfhood), and “mean-menacing” identity. His world came crashing down. He could not deal “with the public humiliation of having been outwitted by Ali.” Once near-invincible, he was left a shell of that man: “I was devastated.” After, he would meet women and trying to get over his loss, indulge in spending frenzies.
Many boxers have died early, and many have died quite “skint” or “impoverished.” Like recording artists, it seems that many professional boxers rarely end their careers with as much money as they generated during their fighting time. Many boxers seem to enter the profession to build themselves. They want respect, status and identity. Often, these are the wretched of the earth coming into boxing to find themselves; to be somebody. Deontay Wilder affirmed this when, shortly before his fight with Bermane Stiverne, he explained that boxing was his last chance of selfhood. (“I felt like it was my last opportunity to become somebody.”) Meanwhile, Chapelle’s infamous joke also speaks to this pain. Mirroring the fathers advice from “Don’t Be A Menace”, Chapelle remarked: “I spoke at my high school and I told them kid’s straight up, if you guys are serious about making it out of this ghetto, you’ve got to focus, you got to stop blaming white people for your problems [pause, silence]…how to rap or play basketball or something; you’re trapped; you are trapped. Either do that or sell crack, that’s your only options; that’s the only way I’ve ever seen it work. You better get to entertain[ing] these white people; you better get to dancing. Go on out there and be somebody.”
Entertainer, Chris Rock, seemed to make a similar observation, only this one directly related to boxing. In his words, “my dad used to say…”you can’t beat white people at anything, never, but you can knock them out.” If you have six and the white guy has five, he wins. If you’re black, you can’t let it go to the judge’s decision because you’re going to lose, no matter how bad you beat this guy up. Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney [June 11, 1982] is the perfect example of life. Larry Holmes beats the s**t out of this guy for 11 rounds [and] he knocks him out in the [thirteenth] round [of 15]; they had to stop the fight. The man[Cooney] is bloody; he had been beaten the whole fight. It goes to the judges’ scorecards [and] Larry Holmes is losing the fight. If he didn’t knock him out, he would have lost the title and that is essentially the [ruled] experience…there is always going to kind-of-be an over-reaction in one way or another, regarding your presence, be it good or bad.” Maybe it was in attempting to take control of his fate that Foreman made his fists his judges, and like Tyson, “hit with bad intentions.” Like Foreman’s reincarnation, Tyson has also remade himself to cement his legendary status, reinventing himself and in the process showing that he was much larger than the Boxing Hall of Fame: Loved and liked; A Somebody; An Immortal.