"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Monday, May 10, 2010


I like to take this opportunity to reproduce the following post, which first appeared in my 'Optimum performance Technologies' weblog slightly more than a year ago. It offers interesting lessons on 'Strategic Anticipation'.

"The other day, my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, & I had afternoon tea in my neighbourhood coffee shop. We were having our usual pow-wow!

I was sharing with him how he could explore using action movies as part of his training props to motivate under-achieving students to pursue their fondest dreams.

We talked at length about 'Rocky III', with the character of Sylvester Stallone regaining his fight - using the 'Eye of the Tiger' - against the menacing character of Mr T, as the loud-mouthed Clubber Lang.

Our conversation also went into 'The Rumble in the Jungle'.

In a nut shell, 'The Rumble in The Jungle' was a historic boxing event that took place on 30 October 1974, in the Mai 20 Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo).

It had pitted the then world heavyweight champion George Foreman against former world champion & challenger Muhammad Ali.

As we all knew by then that Ali had been suspended from the boxing sport for 3-1/2 years following his refusal to obey his army draft.

The boxing world also knew that the younger Foreman was obviously an overwhelming favorite against an aging Ali.

Also, Foreman was greatly feared for his punching power, physical size, & sheer ring dominance.

Dilip told me that Foreman & Ali had in fact spent much of the summer of 1974 training in Zaire, getting their bodies used to the weather in the tropical African country.

However, unknown to the Foreman's camp, Ali was actually training his physical body to take on horrendous punches from his sparring partners during the training. He knew that the only way for him to beat Foreman was his newly hardened body against Foreman's formidable punches.

Interestingly, according to Dilip, Ali also had somehow mentally psyched the Foreman's camp that he would probably stay on course with his conventional strategy of amazing speed & maneuvering skills.

Ali started off the first round by attacking Foreman. While this openly aggressive tactic may have surprised Foreman, it failed to significantly hurt him, despite getting a few solid punches from Ali.

Before the end of the first round, Foreman caught up to Ali, & began landing a few punches of his own. Foreman had also been trained to cut off the ring, preventing escape. Ali realized that he would easily tire if Foreman could keep making one step to Ali's two, so he changed strategy immediately.

Almost right away in the second round, Ali started lying on the ropes, in his classic pose & allowing Foreman to keep punching him, without any attempt to counter-attack Foreman (a strategy Ali later dubbed as the 'rope-a-dope').

As a result, Foreman spent all his brute force by throwing punches (remember, in oven-like heat), that either did not hit Ali or were deflected in a way that made it difficult for Foreman to hit Ali's head, while sapping his own strength.

This loss of physical energy on the sad part of Foreman was essentially the key to Ali's 'rope-a-dope' technique.

After several rounds, this really caused Foreman to be somewhat disoriented. Worst still, his stamina looked to be gradually draining from him.

So, after the fifth round Foreman was really very clumsy, & he looked increasingly exhausted too.

Ali, in his usual classic provocative self, continued to taunt Foreman by saying "They told me you could punch, George!" & "They told me you could punch as hard as Joe Louis."

Finally, in the eighth round, Ali landed the final combination, a left hook that brought Foreman's head up into position so Ali could smash him with a hard right, straight to the face.

Foreman staggered for a while, then twirled across half the ring before landing on his back. He finally managed to get up, but it was already too late.

Dilip & I concurred that this is the greatest demonstration of strategic anticipation & tactical execution ever displayed in a heavyweight fight.

[Dilip has also revealed that fight was also analysed as a case study by Harvard Business School.

By the way, the events before & during the fight were captured in the Academy Award winning documentary, 'When We Were Kings'.]

Ali came into the fight with a brilliant strategy, executed it beautifully, & achieved a great triumph.

The fight also revealed just how great Ali was at taking punches, & also highlights the different, perhaps dangerous, mid-ring strategy change that Ali had made in his fighting style, by adopting the 'rope-a-dope', instead of his former style that emphasized speed & movement.

This fight has since become one of the most famous fights of all time, because it resulted in Ali, against all the odds, regaining the title against a younger & stronger Foreman.

After this fight Ali once again told the world that he was the greatest.

[Incidentally, Dilip also revealed that when Ali was defeated in his fight with Ken Norton, & while still lying on the floor with all the reporters hanging around & waiting for his comments as a loser, Ali, grabbing one of the microphones, blurted out to the effect:

"He may be the champ, but look at me (apparently pointing at all the reporters around him), I am still the greatest!".

To me, this guy has really true mental strength.]

Amazingly, Foreman & Ali became great pals after the fight.

As I have always said, everything is possible in life or business; it's just a question of strategy & discipline, as exemplified by Muhammad Ali in 'The Rumble in the Jungle'.

[If you had watched 'Rocky III', you would certainly recall the movie segment near the tail-end when Clubber Lang (Mr T) was interviewed by a reporter prior to the final fight, He was asked about his strategy to defend his title against Rocky (Sylvester Stallone). In response, he just arrogantly blurted out 'PAIN!'. He got it, man!]"

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