News to me, but it sounds right.
The rope-a-dope myth has played an important role in Ali's apotheosis, filling in holes in his resume as a boxer and cultural figure. His career in general is now seen through the prism of his victory over Foreman. Among other things the knockout ratified and deodorized the victories over Liston, though the stink on those fights had always been richly deserved. But the myth itself accomplished the unlikelier feat of reframing Ali's past, which to that point had been unpalatably controversial for many Americans. Skeptics now had to reckon with the saga of a man who'd courageously absorbed the unstinting assault of boxing's most fearsome puncher and come back for a dramatic win. These were the people who'd seen Ali's draft resistance as an act of cowardice instead of a principled stand, who'd looked at Ali—with his hairless body, his self-professed prettiness, his flamboyant personality, his high voice, his lack of interest in anything besides boxing, his less-than-rugged boxing style—and whispered about his sexual orientation, who'd believed that Ali hadn't served his duty to his country or to the ring, having failed to engage in bloody, to-the-death combat on either front. The Foreman fight satisfied those requirements for many, and thus opened the floodgates for the mainstream political acceptance and corporate sponsorship that has for at least 25 years defined Ali's legacy—first President Ford, then the Olympic torch, then the Ali Center, which was made possible by a government land grant. If rope-a-dope was a lie, it at least disabused many Americans of far bigger illusions.