“We’ve all been in shock,” said Adrienne Foreman Jones when asked Monday about the death of Muhammad Ali.

“Oh yes, honey. Very sad.”

But it wasn’t long before the first wife of George Foreman, and mother of the former heavyweight champion’s first child, Michi Foreman, wanted to laugh about Ali.

“I’ll never forget the first time I met Ali. George and I were dating and we were in Houston because Ali was fighting at the Astrodome,” said Adrienne, a native Minnesotan. “The hotel lobby was just full of people and George said I’ll be right back. I saw Ali coming with a bunch of people around him.”

George went over and spoke to Ali, and then Adrienne noticed the two boxers looking in her direction.

“Pretty soon here comes George with Ali and he said Ali, this is my wife, Adrienne,” she said stressing that they weren’t actually married yet. “Ali looked at me and said What do you want with him when you can have the real champ? and his eyes got real big [a signature expression],” said Adrienne. “C.J., a sound didn’t come out of my mouth. I couldn’t speak.”

That’s rare. Adrienne is still a heavyweight in the talking division, so I cannot imagine how her mouth ran when she was that sweet young thing on Foreman’s arm. “When we got back over to George’s mother’s house, he told his family Adrienne got so scared she could say, Hi, nice meeting you, to Ali.”

Although now married to other people, Adrienne and George remain on good terms.

“I got a text from George. He said he’s not going to the funeral.” Ali will be buried in Louisville, Ky. “I could show you the text, he said I don’t do funerals,” said Adrienne. She said those ceremonies don’t “bother me so much. I just say I’m going to say goodbye. But that means he’s not coming to my funeral, which I’ve always asked him to attend. We’re still good friends.”

I told her I have become much more like George; I attend fewer funerals because I know there are some I will not be able to avoid.

“When I go, I want you to do my eulogy,” said Adrienne.

I encouraged her to do what she can to not make that necessary anytime soon.

Adrienne told me that George recently sent her a photo he took with Ali and former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes.

“This picture is so beautiful to me. He loved Ali,” she said. “It’s history. It’s something you should frame. You are the only [news person] George wants to see every time he comes to Minneapolis.”

PETA party with Prince

On what would have been Prince’s 58th birthday Tuesday, Mayte is hosting an event at PETA’s HQ in LA to highlight her ex’s animal rights activism.

“Prince didn’t want to celebrate birthdays but to live life to elevate and educate to the next level of enlightenment. My mission every June 7 is not only to celebrate his birth but also with PETA to remember this man by making June 7 a day where Prince fans go vegan to see how much better they feel and to honor his kind legacy,” said Mayte. That quote was provided to me by my pal Dan Mathews, senior veep of PETA media campaigns.

“We are honoring his life on the day he was born to highlight his animal rights legacy,” Mathews told me.

The highlight of the event, scheduled to be attended by Pamela Anderson, Russell Simmons, Belinda Carlisle, Davey Havok, Tony Kanal and Moby, is expected to be a song Prince wrote that will be played over a montage.

Mathews told me he first met Prince in the late ’80s and they stayed in touch by mail. “And lo and behold we got Federal Express from Paisley Park with a digital audio tape in it and a note saying Use this however you can.”

“He was inspired to write it [after] researching all the things that happen to animals in the food industry. That’s one of the things Mayte is going to talk about [Tuesday]. We got hold of similar video that inspired him to write the song to be the visual guide that we are launching.” Mathews said he recalls that the Paisley Park package arrived in the late ’90s “because we made free promo CDs of it for our 20th anniversary, which was in 2000. Everybody loved it,” said Mathews. “Because so much of his music was not available online, we thought it would be the perfect gift for his fans; a lot of them don’t know how dedicated he was to animal rights. We thought this would be the perfect way to honor his legacy — and a free song as well.”


C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.