Saturday, 31 October 2015

What can we learn in stocks from boxing?

Exactly 41 years ago on 30 Oct 1974, a historical boxing event took place in Zaire (now Congo). It was the world heavy weight championship nicknamed "The Rumble in the Jungle" between two of the greatest boxers of all time – then 32-year-old Muhammad Ali and 25-year-old George Foreman.

George Foreman was the undefeated champion and overwhelmed favorite to win the match. He was the most intimidating fighter then with punches that KO veterans champs such as Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, both of whom beaten Ali before.

During the match, the underdog Ali adopted “Rope-A-Dope” technique, leaning on the rope and choosing to defend and shield. Foreman will then throw his heavy punches in all directions without much accuracy, and each time when he tires down, Ali will find seize opportunity to counter punch with precise accuracy.

After 8 rounds and wearing out his younger opponent, the older and wiser Ali will need just ONE OPPORTUNITY to knock Foreman out, and became the first and only person to ever stop him.

The underdog Ali won with a well-planned strategy - be patient, conserves energy and wait for opportunity to strike with precision and perfection.

Just like when stock market is hitting highs. Have a plan and get ready a watchlist and warchest.  Be patient and deploy only when the right pricing/value arises. It is also the same in life. Do not be too eager for success in a short time. You ought to have the patient for success to evolve over time, slow yet sustainable.

Foreman was defeated at the highest point of his career by Ali and would later retired from boxing three years later when Jimmy Young defeated him in 1977.

It taught us to remember that the highest point in the stock market (or life or career) is always the most dangerous if we are arrogant and complacent. This is the point where you think as if you are on top of the world and as fast as you climb to the top, you will tumble even faster down to the floor.

While the fall from the top can be really painful, it should be a significant event for us to seriously reflect our mistakes and become wiser and smarter the next time.

Looking back for me, the low point in my life is actually the high point in my life, because this is the time when I learn the most. It can sometimes also prove to be the turning point of our life and we will then make significant changes to improve afterwards.  

George Foreman made a comeback 10 years after he retired and will later become the world heavy weight champion at the age of 45. Not just that, he also become an entrepreneur and founded the George Foreman Grill which will then go on to sell more than 100 million units.


  1. Hi Rolf,

    Let me ask the hard questions :)

    1. What if Ali didn't win this match despite adopting the rope-a-dope strategy? What if he had a plan and waited for the right time but still failed? Is the strategy wrong? Is it that he lacked patience? Or is he simply employing the wrong strategy against the wrong opponent?

    2. how do we know it's the high point of his career? I thought career high is only determine when you start falling and falling and never recovered. In other words, a career high is formed went you reached a high of your career and then start falling. But how do we know he won't recover? So how can we be certain it's the career high and not merely a minor 'correction' in his career?

    3. What if we reached the lowest point and never recovered? Do we write it off and say this experience is not for me? When do we say it's a good learning experience and we move on from now on?

    I think a lot of success seems like it's a rationalized story. This happened and that happened next, and then we have this success. In truth, for all the failures and success that is happening and unfolding RIGHT NOW, we don't know anything about it. And I doubt we will ever know. Is success therefore dependent on results? If we have the results, then we can talk about how we planned out well and strategise and then we reach this result?


    Fooled by randomness!

    1. Hi LP,

      SMOL wanted to watch the fun!

      Shall we asked him to pay the entrance fees? Or maybe this is an exhibition match that both of us constructively enjoyed and more importantly, the crowd is also entertained and learn along the way as well. :-)


      Questions are good and my answers are so long that this comments box is too small.

      I started a post instead.

  2. For employees in corporation; it is not difficult to know whether we are over the high point of our career in our 40s; unless we continue in our self-denial till retirement or forced retirement.

    1. Hi CW,

      I agree with you that it is not difficult to identify high or low point, unless we continue to live in self-denial.

      When the old and wise speak, we listen! hahaha :-)

  3. Rolf,


    Only the worthy get's "kicked" ;)

    I just squat down, munch my char shao pao and watch the fun!

    1. Hi SMOL,

      Entrance fees please! haha..

      The good thing of having my own blog over a job is I control this blog. I can choose to delete the comments.

      I am definitely not worthy, but I am sure LP is a worthy one! So I decide to respond rather than delete the comments.

      You can sit down, no need squat. I will offer u a drink to come along with ur char Siew pao! hahaha

  4. Rolf

    As you as you are composed, I am sure you will make excellent investment decision. The challenge is to be composed at the right time. :)

    Even if opportunity don't appear for Ali, at least he had tried his best in his way. He should feel proud of himself.

    1. Hi FD,

      Thanks for the good words.

      But maybe u overestimated me, I do not make good investment decision yet! I am striving to learn NOW and make good investment decisions in time to come.

      I am proud of Ali during that match. I despise him many times in his lives of him making nasty comments and degrading women...

      But ultimately NOW so many years had past, he is not the same Ali 40 over years ago and had evolved to be a much better person.

      If u have time, see how Ali evolved in this video