|Born||Jan. 10, 1949
Marshall, Texas, United States
George Foreman has had a remarkable career in boxing. He reached the pinnacle of success when he became a world champion when he was in his twenties. He then made a comeback while in his forties which made the nearly forgotten world champion one of the most famous and admired fighters in boxing history.
Foreman’s life is one that had a number of ups and downs. Looking at his path to fame, glory, a fall from grace, and redemption truly is a tale to marvel at.
On a television interview after he retired from the ring, George Foreman told a story in which he mugged a young man and was shocked that the police arrested him for the crime. Foreman expressed shock that he was arrested for simply taking someone else’s money. The early life of George Foreman reflects a picture of the man that is much different than the jovial image he presents today.
Foreman was born on January 10, 1949, in Marshall, TX. He grew up in the Fifth Ward in Texas and later moved to Houston. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 and began getting into trouble. He moved to Pleasanton, California, thanks to an affiliation with the jobs corps, which helped him turn his life around. It was also in California where Foreman discovered boxing as a career.
Foreman’s Early Career
As an amateur, Foreman amassed a record of 22–4. Two of his losses were to the same fighter, Clay Hodges. He also won the Gold Medal in boxing at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. In 1969, Foreman went pro and scored a three round knockout in his debut bout over a fighter named Donald Walheim.
The next 12 fights Foreman had all ended up in wins with 11 of them being knockouts. The wins were very impressive and Foreman was being groomed to take the heavyweight title. Once his record reached 32–0, Foreman was clearly the number one contender for the world heavyweight title.
Becoming a Champion
On January 22, 1973, in the Sunshine Showdown event in Jamaica, Foreman won a technical knockout over Joe Frazier to win the World Heavyweight title. Frazier had been previously undefeated and this win, while not an upset, was still shocking one since Foreman knocked Frazier down six times in two rounds. Foreman went to defeat Ken Norton in a very highly publicized title defense.
Rumble in the Jungle
In 1974, Foreman lost his title to Muhammad Ali in the classic Rumble in the Jungle bout in Zaire (now the Congo) as Foreman suffered a cut in training that hampered his ability to prepare for the event. Ali won, took the title, and the bout is among the most famous in boxing history.
Foreman did not fight in 1975, but returned a year later to start his comeback. After a number of high profile fights, he retired in 1977. Foreman nearly died from heatstroke and became a born again Christian after the experience. He appeared on television programs such as the 700 Club and expressed his love for his new life.
Foreman also ran a youth group boxing club and, as the story goes, he needed funds to keep it open so he opted to fight again. This set the stage for what many call the greatest comeback in sport’s history.
Foreman’s Comeback Era
In 1987, George Foreman made a shocking announcement. He was coming back to the fight game at the age of 38. His comeback was an initial success as he scored two wins. Advertisers immediately hired him for TV commercials and a new George Foreman was born.
The younger incarnation was a surly, angry man. The new Foreman was a lovable father figure everyone rooted for. His affable nature help turn the gimmicky cooking product, The George Foreman Grill, into a smash hit and bestselling kitchen appliance.
The comeback saw Foreman have his second most famous match after the bout with Ali. In 1991, he fought Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield and lost the match after 12 rounds on a decision.
Foreman was not done though. On November 5, 1994, he regained the world title when he beat Michael Moorer in a shocking upset.
Now, retired, Foreman still appears as a boxing analyst on television and continues to spread the ministry.