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Foreman's Fistic Fury Was Forged From Fear

The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th century / JAN. 22, 1973

January 22, 1999

If you've forgotten the images, you can't forget Howard Cosell's voice that day, seemingly ill-prepared for what he saw in the boxing ring before him.

Time and again, young George Foreman sent heavily favored Joe Frazier crashing to the canvas, and all Cosell could say was:

"Down goes Fraz-ah! Down goes Fraz-ah! Down goes Fraz-ah. . . ."

Foreman knocked Frazier down six times in 4 minutes 35 seconds, winning the heavyweight championship in the second round.

Years later, he said the savage beating he gave Frazier that day in Kingston, Jamaica, was forged from fear, not confidence.

His trainer, Archie Moore, had decided on a game plan that began at the weigh-in.

"Archie wanted to make Joe angry, to upset him, so he had me show up an hour late for the weigh-in," Foreman recalled. "He felt it would make him so angry, it would affect him in the fight."

It worked. Frazier was steaming by fight time. He was careless from the opening bell, Foreman tagged him early with a right hand and it quickly became a rout.

"The truth is, I was scared to death," Foreman said.

"I remember being worried people would see my knees shaking when I got into the ring."

There was another stunning news story that day: The death of former president Lyndon Johnson.

Foreman had been the poster boy for Johnson's Job Corps program, and Moore and his manager, Dick Sadler, shielded Foreman from news of Johnson's death until after the fight.

Also on this date: In 1984, in his signature game as a pro, Marcus Allen gained 191 yards to lead the Raiders to a 38-9 victory over Washington in the Super Bowl. . . . In 1961, Bob Rosburg made up seven strokes in the final round to win the Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, earning $5,300.

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