George Foreman, the two-time world heavyweight champion who shared a ring with Muhammad Ali, has weighed in on the national anthem controversy – and he’s on the opposite side of Ali-esque political protests.
Speaking to the “Offended America” podcast, Foreman—who admitted he doesn’t “pay much attention to what kids do”—indicated that he believed the anthem protests were merely a cry for attention: “’I got all this money, but nobody knows me,’” he said, speaking as if he were a protesting athlete, “‘so let me say something like Muhammad Ali and maybe I’ll be different.’ That’s all that is.”
Foreman, seven years younger than Ali, lost to Ali in one of the greatest fights in boxing history, the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman then shocked the world two decades later by winning the heavyweight championship once again at age 45.
The concept of patriotism among athletes came up, and Foreman, who represented the United States in the 1968 Olympics, proudly noted, “I still love this country. The greatest day of my life was when I put on the colors red, white and blue.” He suggested that athletes who protest may not have been brought up in patriotic homes, and deemed athletes who declined to visit the White House “sore losers.”
Foreman suggested that simply speaking out like Ali wasn’t enough to make one equivalent to Ali. “The shame part of it, all of us, including Joe Frazier and myself, we became the heavyweight champion of the world,” Foreman said. “We didn’t realize that just because you’re champ, you don’t become Muhammad Ali.”
One wonders what Ali—who died beloved but endured far worse criticism for his political stands than Kaepernick has ever received—would say about the protests, which began just weeks after his death.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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