When we were Kings

An approach to communication: 3/3

March 2015


A documentary: “When we were Kings. Two different ways of communicating: Muhammad Ali & George Foreman”.

When We Were Kings is a 1996 documentary that depicts the 1974 heavyweight championship held in Zaire between Muhammad Ali, 34 at the time, and George Foreman, 10 years younger, an event promoted by Don King, his first big show. The soundtrack is full of soul.

Apart from the fight itself, and the training for it, what really surprised me was the different approaches both boxers have to their audience and the relationship with them. The way they communicate with the receivers.

While Foreman can’t connect with the crowd at all, Ali, as the great communicator he is, manages to engage the crowd and win their support with his words. He expresses his opinion on Africans and African-Americans, and talks about dignity, values and hope, once again universal values.

Ali, a sports icon, teaches us the power of speech: a clear message, concise and entertaining.

His humanity and personal values made him a global icon. His fame as a communicator will surely survive longer than his fame as an athlete.


Communication is more than a message, a context, or a channel…it is about surprise, values, diversity, engagement and a long list of other elements.

Every day we try to communicate with others. People contact with us through one or a number of different channels. Hundreds of messages arrive to our inboxes every week. We want to share every moment: what we think, what we do, what we see. Why? Because we want to communicate. Communication is intrinsic to human nature. And it is something that we need in our lives to feel complete. It is worth the effort to try to do it as best as we can. That´s why reflecting upon it is so important.

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