- Category : Boxer
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Cycles 2
George Edward Foreman (born January 10, 1949) is an American two-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. He became the oldest man ever to win a major heavyweight title when, at 45, he knocked out 26-year-old Michael Moorer in the 10th round.
Foreman still holds that distinction and has been named one of the 25 greatest fighters of all time by Ring Magazine. Nicknamed "Big George", he is now a successful businessman and an ordained Christian minister who has his own church.
Foreman has 10 children, and each of his five sons is named George: George Jr., George III, George IV, George V, and George VI. He is able to distinguish one from another by the use of nicknames such as "Monk", "Big Wheel" and "Little George". His five daughters are Michi, Freeda, Georgetta, Natalie, and Leola.
George Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas. Although raised by J.D. Foreman, whom his mother married when George was a small child, his biological father was Leroy Moorehead. During his youth, he was often in trouble with the law. In his teen years, George made a name for himself as a street brawler, thief, and mugger. He and his friends would sometimes participate in gang fights, and in time George became one of the most feared street fighters in his neighborhood. He and his friends would sometimes get drunk and were constantly on the run from the police. A turning point came for George when, while running from police one night, he hid under a house and used the contents of a broken sewage pipe to cover his scent from police dogs. He vowed that night to make a better life for himself.
He later joined the Job Corps as a way to improve his life. While stationed in Oregon, Foreman became infamous for his belligerent attitude, often picking fights with fellow trainees. It was then that his fighting skills were noticed and he was introduced to the sport of boxing, which he grew to love. Foreman got his start as an amateur from the AAU in San Francisco.
In 1967 and 1968, he was defeated by compatriot Clay Hodges, but was sent to the Olympics where he won his first fight on points and then three fights by stoppage — including the final title bout against the favored Soviet fighter.
By the age of 19, Foreman had won a gold medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. When he walked around the ring with an American flag following his victory, members of the black community chastised him for being an Uncle Tom, especially since two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze), who had competed for the United States in the 200-meter dash, had raised their black-gloved fists on the award podium as a protest during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem. Others, however, lauded him for being a patriotic American during a time of political upheaval and strife.
Defeated Lucjan Trela (Poland) 4-1
Defeated Ion Alexe (Romania) TKO 3
Defeated Giorgio Bambini (Italy) KO 2
Defeated Ionas Chepulis (Soviet Union) TKO 2
Olympic medal record
Gold 1968 Mexico City Heavyweight
Foreman, after an amazing amateur record of 27-0, turned professional in 1969 with a three-round knockout of Donald Walheim in New York. He had a total of 12 fights that year, winning all of them (11 by knockout). Among the fighters he defeated was Cookie Wallace, who lasted only 23 seconds.
In 1970, Foreman continued his march toward the undisputed heavyweight title, winning all 12 of his bouts (11 by knockout). Among the opponents he defeated were Gregorio Peralta, whom he decisioned at Madison Square Garden, and George Chuvalo, whom he defeated by technical knockout (TKO) in three rounds. After this impressive win, Foreman defeated Charlie Polite in four rounds and Boone Kirkman in three.
In 1971, Foreman won seven more fights, including a rematch with Peralta, whom he defeated by knockout in the tenth and final round in Oakland, California, and a win over Leroy Caldwell, who was knocked out in the second round. After amassing a record of 32-0, Foreman was ranked as the number one challenger by the WBA and WBC. In 1972, his string of wins continued with a series of five consecutive bouts in which he defeated each opponent within three rounds.
World Heavyweight Champion: Beating Frazier
Still undefeated, and with an impressive knockout record, Foreman was set to challenge undefeated and undisputed world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, who in 1971 had scored a 15-round unanimous decision over previously-unbeaten Muhammad Ali, following Ali's return to the ring after an exile of more than three and a half years. The showdown took place on January 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica, with Foreman knocking down Frazier six times in two rounds to win the championship by knockout in one of boxing's biggest upsets. In what was HBO Boxing's first broadcast, the call made by Howard Cosell became one of the most memorable in all of sports: "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!" Before the fight Frazier was 29-0 (25 KO) and Foreman was 37-0 (34 KO). Equally memorable was Foreman's final punch, an uppercut landed with such force that it lifted Frazier off his feet before sending him to the canvas for the sixth and final time. As he had done following the previous knockdowns, Frazier managed to get to his feet, but the referee called an end to the bout.
Foreman was sometimes characterized by the media as an aloof and antisocial champion. According to them, he always seemed to wear a sneer and was not often available to the press. Foreman would later attribute his demeanor during this time as an emulation of Sonny Liston, for whom he had been an occasional sparring partner.
Nevertheless, Foreman went on to defend his title successfully twice during his initial reign as champion. His first defense, in Tokyo, pitted him against Puerto Rican heavyweight champion Jose Roman. Roman was not regarded as a top contender, and it took Foreman only 55 seconds to end the fight, the fastest-ever knockout for a heavyweight championship bout. Foreman's next defense was against a much tougher opponent (at least on paper). In 1974, in Caracas, Venezuela, he faced the highly regarded Ken Norton who was 30-2, a boxer notorious for his awkward boxing style, who had broken the jaw of Muhammad Ali while defeating him on points a year earlier. Norton's ability to "take a punch," however, was suspect, and Foreman put him to the test. In an astonishing display of aggression and punching power, Foreman knocked out Norton in just two rounds. The win made Foreman 40-0 with 37 knockouts.
"Rumble in the Jungle"
Main article: The Rumble in the Jungle
Foreman's next title defense, against Muhammad Ali, was historic. Ali was 44-2 (31 KO), with losses coming at the hands of Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. Frazier had knocked down Ali in the 15th and final round enroute to a unanimous decision (9-6, 11-4 and 8-6-1), while Ken Norton, who broke Ali's jaw in the second round, won by split decision (4-7-1, 4-5-3 and 6-5-1) . Foreman, who was 40-0 (37 KO), had knocked out both Frazier and Norton in the second round. The only fighters who lasted the distance with Foreman to that time were Roberto Davila, Levi Forte and Gregorio Peralta.
During the summer of 1974, Foreman traveled to Congo (then Zaire) to defend his title against former champ Muhammad Ali, by then 32 years old and considered by some to be on the decline as a fighter. The bout has became known as The Rumble in the Jungle.
During training in Zaire, Foreman suffered a cut above his eye, forcing postponement of the match for a month. Ali used this time to tour Zaire, endearing himself to the public while taunting Foreman at every opportunity. Nevertheless, Foreman was a heavy favorite, due in large part to the fact that Frazier and Norton had given Ali four difficult fights, lasted the distance in all, and won two of them, while Foreman had scored TKOs over both in the second round.
When Foreman and Ali finally met in the ring, Ali started on his toes, dancing around as advertised. Such was the intensity of Foreman's attack, however, that he was soon driven into the ropes. Foreman dug vicious body punches into Ali's sides; however, it quickly became clear that Foreman was unable to land a clean punch to Ali's head. The ring ropes were looser than normal, allowing Ali to lean back and away from Foreman's wild swings, and then maul him in a clinch, forcing Foreman to expend extra energy untangling himself. To this day, it is unclear whether Ali's pre-fight talk of using speed and movement against Foreman had been just a diversionary trick, or whether his use of what became known as the "Rope-a-dope" tactic was an improvisation necessitated by Foreman's constant pressure.
In either case, Ali was able to counter off the ropes with sharp, snapping blows to the face, and was able to penetrate Foreman's defense almost at will. As the early rounds passed, Ali continued to take heavy punishment to the body, and occasionally a hard jolt to the head, but Foreman could not land his best punches directly on Ali's chin. Eventually, Foreman began to tire and his punches became increasingly wild, losing power in the process. An increasingly-confident Ali taunted Foreman throughout the bout and by the eighth round was in control of the fight. Late in that round, Ali sprang off the ropes with a sudden flurry of blows to Foreman's head, punctuated by a hard right cross that landed flush on Foreman's jaw. Foreman staggered, lurched, and collapsed, overcome as much by exhaustion as Ali's punching power. He managed to regain his feet, but the referee stopped the bout. It was Foreman's first defeat, and Muhammad Ali would remain the only boxer to defeat him by a knockout throughout his two-phased career, although Ron Lyle and Jimmy Young did manage to floor him in later bouts.
After losing his title, Foreman remained inactive during 1975. In 1976, he returned to boxing in Las Vegas against Ron Lyle in a fight hailed by Ring Magazine as "The Fight Of The Year." At the end of the first round, Lyle landed a hard left that sent Foreman staggering across the ring. In the second round, Foreman pounded Lyle against the ropes and might have scored a KO, but due to a timekeeping error the bell rang with a minute still remaining in the round, and Lyle survived. In the third, Foreman pressed forward, with Lyle waiting to counter off the ropes. In the fourth, a brutal slugfest erupted. A cluster of power punches from Lyle sent Foreman to the canvas. When Foreman got up, Lyle staggered him again, but just as Foreman seemed finished he retaliated with a hard right to the side of the head, knocking down Lyle. Lyle beat the count, then landed another brutal combination, knocking Foreman down for the second time. Again, Foreman beat the count. In the fifth round, both fighters continued to ignore defense and traded their hardest punches. Each man staggered the other and each seemed almost out on his feet. Then, as if finally tired, Lyle stopped punching and Foreman delivered a dozen unanswered blows until Lyle collapsed. The fight was stopped and Foreman was declared the winner.
For his next bout, Foreman chose to face Joe Frazier in a rematch. Because of the one-sided Foreman victory in their first fight, and the fact that Frazier had taken a tremendous amount of punishment from Ali in Manila a year earlier, few expected him to win. Frazier at this point was 32-3 and Foreman was 41-1. Surprisingly, Foreman-Frazier II was fairly competitive as long as it lasted, as Frazier used quick head movements to make Foreman miss with his hardest punches. Unable to mount a significant offense, however, Frazier was eventually floored twice by Foreman in the fifth round and the fight was stopped. Next, Foreman knocked out Scott Ledoux in three and Dino Dennis in four to finish the year.
Retirement and rebirth
1977 would prove to be a life changing year for Foreman. After knocking out Pedro Agosto in four rounds at Pensacola, Florida, Foreman flew to Puerto Rico, where he lost a 12-round decision to Jimmy Young. Foreman fought cautiously early on, costing himself points, but as in the Ali fight he tired in the later rounds. Despite nearly scoring a KO at one point, Foreman could not mount a sustained attack on the elusive Young, who knocked down Foreman in the last round to secure the decision victory.
Foreman became ill in his dressing room after the fight. He was suffering from exhaustion and heatstroke and believed he had a near death experience. He claimed he found himself in a hellish, frightening place of nothingness and despair. He began to plead with God to help him. He explained that he sensed God asking him to change his life and ways. After this experience, Foreman became a born-again Christian, dedicating his life for the next decade to Christianity. Although he did not formally retire from boxing, Foreman stopped fighting, became an ordained minister of a church in Houston, Texas, and devoted himself to his family and his parishioners. He also opened a youth center that bears his name.
In 1987, after 10 years away from the ring, Foreman surprised the boxing world by announcing a comeback at the age of 38. For his first fight, he went to Sacramento, California, where he beat journeyman Steve Zouski by a knockout in four rounds. Foreman weighed nearly 270-lb for the fight, and looked badly out of shape. Although many thought his decision to return to the ring was a mistake, Foreman countered that he had returned to prove that age was not a barrier to people achieving their goals (as he would say later, he wanted to show that age 40 is not a "death sentence"). He won four more bouts that year, gradually slimming down and improving his fitness. In 1988, he won nine times, and a clear trend began to emerge although none of his opponents was a rated contender. Perhaps his most notable win during this period was a seventh round knockout of an overweight former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
Having always been a slow, lumbering fighter, Foreman had not lost much mobility in the ring since his first "retirement," although he found it harder to keep his balance after throwing big punches and could no longer throw rapid combinations. He was still capable of landing heavy, single blows, however. Remarkably, the late-rounds fatigue that had plagued him in the ring as a young man now seemed to be gone, and he could comfortably compete for 12 rounds. Foreman attributed this to his new, relaxed fighting style (he has spoken of how, earlier in his career, his lack of stamina came from an enormous amount of nervous tension).
By 1989, while continuing his comeback, Foreman had become a successful business entrepreneur, selling everything from grills to mufflers on TV. The formerly aloof, unfriendly Foreman had been replaced by a smiling, friendly George. He and Ali had become friends, and he followed in Ali's footsteps by making himself a celebrity outside the boundaries of boxing.
Foreman continued his string of victories, winning five more fights against mediocre opposition including Jimmy Ellis of Redondo Beach, California, and a three-round win over Bert Cooper, a moderately talented fighter who would go on to contest the undisputed heavyweight title against Evander Holyfield.
In 1990, Foreman met former title challenger Gerry Cooney in Atlantic City. Cooney was coming off a long period of inactivity, and was known to have a weak chin, but his devastating punching power was enough to convince some that he was Foreman's first dangerous comeback opponent. Sure enough, Cooney wobbled Foreman in the first round, but when Foreman landed several powerful punches in the second, Cooney froze on his feet. Seconds later, he was knocked down twice, and Foreman had scored a knockout. He went on to win four more fights that year.
Then, in 1991, despite having beaten no highly rated contenders since his return, Foreman was given the opportunity to challenge undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who was in tremendous shape at 208 pounds for the world title in a Pay Per View boxing event. Very few boxing experts gave the 42-year-old Foreman a chance of winning. However, he was in great shape at 257 pounds, and began the contest by marching forward, absorbing several of Holyfield's best combinations and occasionally landing a powerful swing of his own. Holyfield proved too tough and agile to knock down, and was well ahead on points throughout the fight, but Foreman surprised many by lasting the full 12 rounds, losing his challenge on points. Round 7, in which Foreman knocked Holyfield off balance before being staggered by a powerful combination, was Ring Magazine's "Round Of The Year."
A year later, Foreman fought journeyman Alex Stewart, who had previously been stopped in the first round by Mike Tyson. Foreman knocked down Stewart twice in the second round, but expended a lot of energy in doing so. He subsequently tired, and Stewart rebounded to administer the worst beating of Foreman's career. By the end of the 10th and final round, Foreman's face was bloodied and swollen, but the judges awarded him a majority decision win.
In 1993, Foreman received another title shot, although this was for the vacant WBO championship, which most fans at the time saw as a second-tier version of the "real" heavyweight title, then being contested between Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. Foreman's opponent was Tommy Morrison, a young prospect known for his punching power. To the frustration of Foreman, and the disappointment of the booing crowd, Morrison retreated throughout the fight, refusing to trade toe-to-toe, and sometimes even turned his back on Foreman. The strategy paid off, however, as he outboxed Foreman from long range. The scoring was close, but after 12 rounds Morrison won a unanimous decision. Though it seemed unlikely at the time, one more chance at the legitimate heavyweight crown was just around the corner for Foreman.
Regaining the Title
In 1994, Foreman once again sought to challenge for the world championship after Michael Moorer had beaten Holyfield for the IBF and WBA titles.
The fight took place on November 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Foreman wearing the same red trunks he had worn in his title loss to Ali 20 years earlier. This time, however, Foreman was a substantial underdog. For nine rounds, Moorer easily outboxed him, hitting and moving away, while Foreman chugged forward, seemingly unable to "pull the trigger" on his punches. Entering the tenth round, Foreman was trailing on all scorecards. Then, suddenly, a short right hand caught Moorer on the tip of his chin, gashing open his bottom lip, and he collapsed to the canvas. He lay flat on his back as the referee counted him out.
Just like that, Foreman had regained the title he had lost to Muhammad Ali two decades before. He went back to his corner and knelt in prayer as the arena erupted in cheers. With this historic victory, Foreman broke two records: he became, at age 45, the oldest fighter ever to win the world heavyweight crown; and, 20 years after losing his title for the first time, he broke the record for the fighter with the longest interval between one world championship and the next.
Shortly after the Moorer fight, Foreman began talking about a potential superfight against Mike Tyson. The WBA organization, however, demanded he fight their No. 1 challenger, who at the time was the competent but aging Tony Tucker. For reasons not clearly known, Foreman refused to fight Tucker, and allowed the WBA to strip him of that belt. He then went on to fight mid-level prospect Axel Schulz of Germany in defense of his remaining IBF title. Schulz was a major underdog, but the experts who dismissed his chances did not take into account his toughness and mobility. Schulz jabbed strongly from long range, was never troubled by Foreman's power, and grew increasingly confident as the fight progressed. Foreman finished the fight with a grotesque swelling over one eye, but was awarded a highly controversial majority decision (two judges scored for Foreman, one called it even). The IBF ordered an immediate rematch to be held in Germany, but Foreman refused the terms and found himself stripped of his remaining title.
In 1996, Foreman returned to Tokyo, scoring an easy win over the unrated Crawford Grimsley by a 12-round decision. In 1997, he faced fringe contender Lou Savarese, winning a close decision in a grueling, competitive encounter. Then, yet another opportunity came Foreman's way as the WBC decided to match him against Shannon Briggs in a 1998 "eliminator bout" for the right to face WBC champion Lennox Lewis. After 12 rounds, there was once again a controversial majority decision, but this time the victory went to Briggs. Foreman had fought for the last time, at the age of 48.
Foreman was gracious and philosophical in his loss to Briggs, but announced his "final" retirement shortly afterward. However, he did plan a return bout against Larry Holmes in 1999, scheduled to take place at the Houston Astrodome on pay per view. The fight was to be billed as "The Birthday Bash" due to both fighters' upcoming birthdays. Foreman was set to make $10 million and Holmes was to make $4 million, but negotiations fell through and the fight was canceled. With a continuing affinity for the sport, Foreman became a respected boxing analyst for HBO.
Foreman said he had no plans to resume his career as a boxer, but then announced in February 2004 that he was training for one more comeback fight to demonstrate that the age of 60, like 40, is not a "death sentence." The bout, against an unspecified opponent, never materialized (it was widely thought that Foreman's wife had been a major factor in the change of plans). Having severed his relationship with HBO to pursue other opportunities, George Foreman and the sport of boxing finally went their separate ways.
Boxing Hall of Fame
In January 2003, Foreman was elected to the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, where he was inducted in June. That same year, he was named boxing's ninth greatest puncher of all time by Ring Magazine (see Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time).
The George Foreman Grill and other business ventures
Apart from his advertisements for Meineke mufflers, Foreman also tours the world promoting the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine. Foreman has said that he has made more money from his grilling machine contracts than he made during his entire boxing career, and has suggested that he's better known for the grill than he is for his boxing.
Foreman will not disclose how much he has earned as a product endorser, but he doesn't dispute a published estimate that his lifetime earnings are about $240 million - three times what he earned in the ring. In 1999, Salton Inc. bought the rights to use his name and selling skills in perpetuity for $127.5 million in cash and $10 million in stock. It stands as one of the biggest endorsement deals for any athlete. Under the original 1995 deal, Foreman had a right to 60% of the profits from the grills, which range in price from $20 to $150. At the height of its success, Foreman received $4.5 million a month in payouts, says Salton CEO Leonhard Dreimann. But, in the past few years, consumers have put off replacing their old Foreman grills and Salton reported a loss of $3.2 million on sales of $274 million in a recent quarter.
In 2004, Foreman began marketing the George Foreman brand of "Big and Tall" clothes through the retailer Casual Male. His clothing features "comfort zone" technology, which allows expansion and contraction as the wearer's weight changes.
Foreman appeared in the ABC sitcom "George" for one season in 1993. Foreman appeared as a judge on the second season of the ABC reality television series American Inventor.
Foreman has two books: one, published in May 2007 and titled God in My Corner: A Spiritual Memoir, was written with Ken Abraham; the other, published in October 2007, is called Going the Extra Smile. Both deal with his faith-related experiences, practicing forgiveness, and overcoming adversity. God in My Corner contains numerous pictures from his life and career.
On May 22, 2007, it was announced that Foreman has become a partner in the Panther Racing IndyCar team, which is fielding Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura, and John Andretti in the Indianapolis 500.