When I fought Muhammad Ali in Zare in 1974 in the Rumble in the Jungle, about the fifth round, he got confident. He wasn’t covering up, and I said to myself, “He thinks he’s tough. I’m going to knock his head off.” As soon as I made a fist, his cornerman, Angelo Dundee, screamed, “Muhammad, don’t play with that sucker!” Ali covered up, and I never got another opportunity. That voice played in my head from 1974 all the way to 1994, when Angelo was in my corner for a title fight.
He was so special, the king of all cornermen. Most notable trainers are ex-boxers, but Angelo, who died Feb. 1 at age 90, wasn’t a boxer. He’d never try to push his style on anyone, because he didn’t have one. He would make the average boxer the best he could be, and when you didn’t think you’d make it, he was able to get something out of you that you didn’t even know was there. He would make himself almost invisible, to make you do it for yourself. If there was a cornerman’s genius, Angelo Dundee was it.
Foreman is a two-time world heavyweight boxing champion
This text originally appeared in the Feb. 20, 2012 issue of TIME magazine.
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