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Meet Levi Forte, The Boxer George Foreman Feared August 28, 2008

Posted by Lipstick in Heroes, Personal Experiences, Travel.
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I met a wonderful man in Miami: “The Battling Bellman” and all-around good guy Levi Forte.

Levi is a retired heavyweight boxer who in 1969 went ten rounds with an in-his-prime George Foreman and lost by only one point. He has also been a bellman at the Fontainebleau Hotel for 44 years. So of course, I pestered him to tell me about himself.


At the end of the 1969 fight against Foreman, when the decision was not yet announced, Foreman muttered to Forte “I’m never fighting you again”. And he didn’t. But Levi Forte later gave some advice to Mohammad Ali before The Rumble in the Jungle: “He doesn’t have stamina, keep him punching and he’ll get tired”. Ali replied, “Heh, I’ll keep on the rope… and he’ll be the dope”.

Forte attended the Rumble in the Jungle and at one point during the fight, Ali looked at him and said “Now?”. Levi nodded and Ali kicked it in and knocked Foreman out.

Levi’s wife is writing a book on his years at the famous hotel and I asked him for a little celebrity dirt: Bob Hope was the cheapest celebrity he ever encountered. Bob and Levi had a ten dollar bet on a fight and Bob wouldn’t pay up until the hotel owner shamed him into it.

This is one of the reasons I love to travel — you meet such fascinating and wonderful people.

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Comments»

1. eddiebear - August 28, 2008

I watched that documentary about “Rumble In The Jungle” a few years ago (I think it was called “When We Were Kings”). I loved it.

But Foreman did learn one thing for his title fight in 1994 against Michael Moorer: Moorer kept punching him and punching until Foreman was able to land one punch. And the rest is history.

2. PattyAnn - August 28, 2008

I met Mr. G.F. at a horse show in Athens, TX, back in April. If he isn’t genuinely pleased to meet his fans, then at least he’s become such a good actor that they think he is. Quite the gentleman.

3. kevlarchick - August 28, 2008

Did you take the pic? Love it! I’m sure he was completely charming and was charmed by you Lips.

4. Nom de Blog - August 28, 2008

Excellent post. I love learning stuff I didn’t know and I’m a big fan of that era of boxing.

5. daveintexas - August 28, 2008

Levi still looks like he could throw a punch that would hurt. Bad.

OT, I’ve seen F-16s flying around today. I take it W is at the ranch.

6. Mr Minority - August 28, 2008

OT, I’ve seen F-16s flying around today. I take it W is at the ranch.

Nah, they are just practicing air-to-mud maneuvers in case Cindy Sheehag shows up again.

7. Lipstick - August 28, 2008

KC, I took the pic and Dave, yeah, he’s 68 and very strong. He fought his last fight at age of 58.

http://www.boxrec.com/media/index.php/Human:106

8. skinbad - August 28, 2008

Say’s he’s 6′ 1″. That camera angle puts Lips at about 6′ 7″. Seems about right.

9. Lipstick - August 28, 2008

Well, he was in a boxer stance. He’s a big guy, and very kindly and personable.

10. Michael - August 28, 2008

This is one of the reasons I love to travel — you meet such fascinating and wonderful people.

Lipstick, you are so cool. That’s what Cathy and I like about traveling also. It’s not beaches and museums, it’s about the people you meet.

11. skinbad - August 28, 2008

Does he play the guitar? That’s a honker of a thumbnail.

12. Lipstick - August 28, 2008

Lipstick, you are so cool.

I’m going to have that engraved on a paperweight or something, cause that’s the first and probably last time I’ll hear that.

*jumping and clicking heels*

13. Michael - August 28, 2008

that’s the first and probably last time I’ll hear that

That is correct.

14. eddiebear - August 28, 2008

10:
spot on. The greatest part of my trip to Amsterdam with my wife was meeting a guy at our hotel from Rotterdam who happened to be stopping by to visit his father who was in a nursing home, or whatever they call it over there. The guy told regaled us with story after story of how his dad survived the Nazi occupation by eating tulip bulbs.

That was one of the single most humbling experiences I have ever met.

15. Russ from Winterset - August 29, 2008

I just felt a tremor go through our house, are they blasting over at the limestone quarry?

Oh nevermind. Lipstick just clicked her heels together (#12).

16. composmentis - August 29, 2008

OT, I’ve seen F-16s flying around today. I take it W is at the ranch.

They’re searching for some gay, French spy and his secret transmitter cufflinks.

17. composmentis - August 29, 2008

*jumping and clicking heels*

Way to go and ruin it.

18. Lipstick - August 29, 2008

Sorry about that earthquake. I forget sometimes.

19. George Foreman Grill Times - February 27, 2009

Love the pic. Great article.

20. Lipstick - February 27, 2009

Thank you, Mr. George Foreman Grill Times Man!

21. VETTE - July 16, 2009

THATS MY PAPA!!

22. Lipstick - September 27, 2009

VETTE, thank you for commenting! I spent several weeks at the Fontainebleu and always looked forward to chatting with your dad — he’s such a nice man.

23. me - November 29, 2009

Lost by one point? The boxrec.com records says Foreman won all ten rounds in his fight with Levi Forte. It is true that Forte was one of only a handful of fighters who went the distance with Big George.

24. Lb1979 - February 14, 2010

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Forte last week at the Fountainbleu Htl. He’s charming and can still go the distance!

25. Lipstick - February 14, 2010

That’s great to hear, Lb, thanks for the update!

26. Ken - May 12, 2010

Levi is an amazing person, I also had a chance to meet him yesterday at Fountain Bleu, and he looks like he is 55 and ready to rumble. Thank you for the write up.

27. Anonymous - March 22, 2012

And still going strong. Just saw Mr. Forte in the elevator of the Fontainebleau a couple of days ago. He was celebrating 49 years of working at the hotel. And it seems his birthday was just the day before.

28. Retired Geezer - March 22, 2012

Full disclosure: I don’t follow boxing.

That was a good post by Lipstick.

I wish she would write more.

29. Lisa - May 14, 2012

Met Levi at the FB Hotel…last week (05/7/2012). Such a sweet and nice guy. Told me the whole story as well… Hope to run into him again.

30. F Flamzey - June 26, 2012

Funny thing! He was our bell hop too and told us the same story! Good guy!!

31. Craig Johnson - August 17, 2012

Hey I met him last week too he was such a nice bloke and I wish I wasn’t on my way to the airport so I could of bought him a few beers or coffee!!! I found this while I was looking him up!!!

32. Lamont - January 13, 2013

Hilarious how much of a clown this guy is. I went to boxrec.com and the judges had Foreman winning every round and he knocked this guy down in the second. Foreman also had only 11 bouts at the time and this guy had at least twice that amount.

Second Ali never asked this guy anything about Foreman. Ali also didn’t intend to lay on the ropes according to Ali. He laid on the ropes because Foreman was much quicker on his feet than he expected.

I guess this guy just wanted some attention. Nobody was afraid of this guy.

33. BrewFan - January 15, 2013

Hater.


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