George Foreman was Muhammad Ali’s foil when “The Greatest” became The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1974.
Twenty years later, the honor was Big George’s, and his selection was greeted by Ali with praise and a prediction.
“George is a good man,” Ali said. “He deserves it … and next year I’ll win it.”
At age 45, Big George became the oldest heavyweight champion in history by knocking out Michael Moorer in the 10th round for the IBF-WBA titles Nov. 5 at Las Vegas.
“Isn’t it odd; that’s something,” Foreman said of being named AP Athlete of Year for 1994, two decades after he played a major role in Ali getting the award. Ali had regained the undisputed title by knocking out Foreman in the eighth round on Oct. 30, 1974, at Kinshasa, Zaire.
Foreman received 204 points in voting by sports writers and sportscasters to 138 points for runner-up Hakeem Olajuwon of the NBA champion Houston Rockets. Golfer Nick Price of South Africa, winner of the British Open and PGA, finished third with 111 points.
Speed skaters Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair were selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee as its 1994 Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.