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StoryCorps Tampa Bay: The first Puerto Rican to fight for the heavyweight title tells his story

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Courtesy: StoryCorps
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StoryCorps
Selina Roman and her father, former boxer Jose Roman.

Jose Roman and his daughter Selina Roman talk about what it was like fighting George Foreman in 1973 for the heavyweight championship of the world.

After beating the heavyweight champion of Europe, Jose Roman got his chance in 1973 to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world as the first Puerto Rican to do so.

"I fought George Foreman," Jose Roman said. "He came out to me and started punching me and I couldn't get out of the corner, so he knocked me out."

In the early '70s, before his devastating loss to Muhammad Ali in the fight known as The Rumble in the Jungle, Foreman was feared in and out of the ring. Prior to his fight with Roman, Foreman defeated Ali rival Joe Frazier in the second round.

Foreman needed only two minutes to defeat Roman in the first round.

"It's not easy to be a boxer," Roman said. "[Foreman] weighed 40 pounds more than me. He was six-foot-four and I was six feet, so he had everything going his way. He was too strong."

A mural of Jose Roman in his boxing prime can be found in West Tampa's Macfarlane Park.

Here's video of a 1973 interview with Jose Roman before his fight with Foreman:

and Roman's fight with Foreman:

and a Muhammad Ali press conference where Jose Roman appears, at the 1 minute mark: