By James Blears
An appeal straight from the heart coming right from one of the biggest most thunderous punchers of all time…none other than “Big” George Foreman, directly to the IOC to retain amateur boxing in the Olympics, as he celebrated in Coyocan, Mexico City the fiftieth anniversary of his Gold Medal triumph in the fabled 1968 Olympics.
In 1960, Muhammad Ali, who was then known as Cassius Clay, won light heavyweight gold. Four years later his forever linked magnificently great rival Joe Frazier held aloft heavyweight gold. And four years later George himself was crowned Olympic heavyweight champion. Amateur boxing, which is the very foundation of the sport, has been part of the Olympics since 1904, and George insists it is the fundamental building block, essential for ensuing professional glory.
He said: “No doubt whatsoever the Olympics was my Savior and Grace. I hope the IOC keeps amateur boxing in the Olympics for many years to come! We`ve been the most famous to box. We`ve made boxing come alive all over the World and the IOC should think twice!
“In the Olympic Village we were so tremendously proud to have one identity, and that was the color of our flags, showing where we were from and what we truly represented. It is just a wonderful this celebration of the fiftieth anniversary is in Mexico where boxing is so important. I so love it.
“Winning the gold Medal in the Olympics defined my life as an athlete, and all this time later, the fans are still here cheering me! Without that gold Medal there would never have been George Foreman, lean, mean presenting that grilling machine.
“Boxing is so great! You get in the ring, a guy hits you, you hear bells, get dizzy, you get knocked down, but you get up and you fight on. It`s still the same sport. In the Olympics I was so very proud and I was just glad to have won. We must overcome and we must keep on winning!
“Winning Gold in 1968 was a dream come true for me as a teenager and as long as I live I`ll never forget that. Whenever I have big dreams, my heart always comes back to Mexico City and the Olympics! And our Trainer Henry “Pappy” Gault telling me: “Use that left jab George. Jab, jab, jab!” It also gave me the confidence to spar with Sonny Liston. He`s the only man who ever stood up to me!”