Rope-a-dope: Boxing Move or Political Strategy?

“They call it the rope-a-dope. Well, I’m the dope. Ali just laid on the rope and I, like a dope, kept punching until I got tired. But he was probably the most smart fighter I’ve ever gotten into the ring with.”

When boxing legend George Foreman offered that assessment, he was referencing the original GOAT, none other than Muhammad Ali.

In a boxing career that spanned 21 years, with a 56-5 record (37 by knockout), legendary Cassius Clay, a.k.a.-Muhammad Ali is still known by many as ‘The Greatest of All Time’ long before the coining of that well known acronym.

What made Ali such a unique fighter was how he masterfully manipulated his opponents. One such technique was appropriately called the “Rope-a-Dope.” This was due to the proponent’s ability to lull the opposition into a false sense of security or distraction by appearing weakened, thus distracting the opponent, while returning a planned counterattack. This tactic, albeit in one form or another, has been used throughout history.

The Political Ring

One of the most famous “Rope-A-Dope” scenarios was the assassination of our 35th U.S. President. On the afternoon of Friday November 22nd, 1963, then-President John F. Kennedy was murdered during his open convertible motorcade ride in Dallas, Texas.

The lone assassin arrested for the crime was a 24-year-old ex-marine, Lee Harvey Oswald who had only returned to the states after marrying in Russia and having children less than a year before. Less than 48 hours later, Oswald himself was murdered by Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Chronicled in director Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” the film also addressed one of the greatest mysteries in US history. Even larger than the horrific murder itself, was the mystery of the so-called “magic bullet.” records it this way:

“According to the Warren Commission, Oswald fired three shots in 8.6 seconds: the first shot missed, the second shot struck Kennedy in the back, exited through his throat, and then hit Texas Governor John Connally, breaking a rib, shattering his wrist, and ending up in his right thigh. Critics claimed the bullet, which remained largely intact, could not have been responsible for all the damage.”

Botched Investigation or Purposeful Lies?

Despite the Warren commission’s findings, Americans were not convinced on the earlier “single bullet, “the “single assassin” theory, nor that Ruby and Oswald had both acted alone. In essence and in fact, we were led astray to distract our right and desire to discover the true reason why Kennedy was killed.

Why would an obscure, ex-marine sharpshooter turned warehouse worker, assassinate the President of the United States one year after his return from Russia? Why would Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, kill a man that was already in custody?

Despite public and political outcry, President after president has refused to unseal the “real JFK files”.

Don’t Shoot!

What ranks above most “Rope-A-Dope’s” in all of history was the “Hands up-don’t shoot” Michael Brown narrative.

Ferguson, Missouri: August 9th, 2014. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was walking with friend Dorian Johnson, then-22, after Brown had allegedly robbed Ferguson Market, a local convenience store. In response to another
service call, Officer Darren Wilson stops Brown and Johnson in his patrol SUV originally because they were walking in the middle of the street, blocking traffic. While details were sketchy due to inconsistent accounts and bodycams not-yet-police-issue until later that year, witnesses state that Brown’s hands were lifted momentarily, but utilized as more of a ruse than the purported ‘surrender’ just before he charged toward officer Wilson.

Multiple outlets record that Michael Brown next reached into officer Wilson’s SUV, trying to grab Wilson’s gun, punching, and grabbing the officer. Bruising and scratches on the officer’s neck corroborate this. details what the DOJ report states happened next:

“Page 6: Brown then grabbed the weapon and struggled with Wilson to gain control of it. Wilson fired, striking Brown in the hand. Autopsy results and bullet trajectory, skin from Brown’s palm on the outside of the SUV door as well as Brown’s DNA on the inside of the driver’s door corroborate Wilson’s account that during the struggle, Brown used his right hand to grab and attempt to control Wilson’s gun.

According to three autopsies, Brown sustained a close-range gunshot wound to the fleshy portion of his right hand at the base of his right thumb. Soot from the muzzle of the gun found embedded in the tissue of this wound coupled with indicia of thermal change from the heat of the muzzle indicate that Brown’s hand was within inches of the muzzle of Wilson’s gun when it was fired. The location of the recovered bullet in the side panel of the driver’s door, just above Wilson’s lap, also corroborates Wilson’s account of the struggle over the gun and when the gun was fired, as do witness accounts that Wilson fired at least one shot from inside the SUV.”

Such a false retelling of an event is indicative of many other shootings under similar circumstances in neighborhoods all over America. We are told one story, while the truths and details of the true story are buried. There are many whose livelihoods are built and sustained by lies such as this. Despite their best attempts, the truth does not bear that out.

Real Talk

The Washington Post police-shooting database, which has recorded all police shootings since 2015, also list color as well as sex when it is known. In the entirety of the last seven years, there has been just south of 150 unarmed shootings of Blacks in all fifty states- combined.

As a result of such narratives, many in America, particularly in the Black community, have been convinced and/or coerced to believe that Blacks are being hunted by police when nothing could be further from the truth. That is part of the same distractive narrative that spawned and perpetuated the “hands up-don’t shoot” lie.

Such diversionary or even ‘sleight-of-hand’ tactics are designed to take attention away from the truth about stories like Michael Brown’s. Much like George Floyd some years later, Brown was a very large young man, and was a bully besides. At 6’4”, and nearly 300 lbs., Brown definitely used his size to intimidate and overpower.

Contrary to the mainstream media and others’ portrayal of him, Brown was caught on surveillance camera stealing a handful of cigarillos from the convenience store and intimidating the shop owner.

Voice of Reason

A brief time later, singer Pharrell Williams spoke out on the Ferguson tragedy in an interview with Ebony magazine, for which he received much backlash. It states: “While Pharrell says that was no excuse for Officer Darren Wilson to use lethal force against the unarmed teen, he thinks Brown’s actions are being overlooked in the national discussion about the tragedy.” “It looked very bully-ish; that in itself I had a problem with.” says Williams. “Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?”

Unfortunately, the fact that pressure on Williams’ eventually prompted him to recant, explains why the ”rope-a-dope” continues to be the method of choice of those in power, and why the upcoming examples I will show reveal why so many of us keep falling victim to it.

Stay tuned Thursday, December 22nd for part two of this deep dive into false narratives.


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