George Foreman: The Incredible Life and Career of the Heywood Giant

George Foreman

George Foreman is a legendary American professional boxer who is widely considered as one of the hardest hitting boxers of all time. Aside from his career as a boxer, George Foreman is also an entrepreneur, minister and author. After winning the Olympic Gold in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, he turned professional and went on to have a legendary career which spanned for 28 years between 1969 and 1997. However, he wasn’t an active fighter throughout that time. He was away from the sport of boxing for 10 years when he chose to follow religion and became a born again Christian. However, he made an unprecedented comeback after the hiatus and went on to become the oldest Heavyweight Champion in history. For his spectacular career as a boxer, George Foreman was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and International Boxing Hall of Fame. he was also selected as the eighth best heavyweight boxer of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization. In 2002, The Ring magazine named him as one of the 25 best boxers of the last 80 years. Because of his furious punching power, he was ranked as the ninth-greatest puncher of all time. He was a ringside analyst for HBO’s boxing coverage for 12 years until 2004. Aside from his exploits in the ring, George Foreman made a lot of money with his endorsement of the George Foreman Grill. The low fat grill has sold over 100 million units worldwide and has made George Foreman a very wealthy man. Let’s find out more about this legendary boxer.

George Foreman: All You Need to Know

When was George Foreman born?

George Foreman was born on January 10th, 1949 in Marshall, Texas. “Big George” spent his childhood in Houston’s Fifth Ward community. He grew up in a family with six siblings. His stepfather’s name was J.D. Foreman while his biological father’s name was Leroy Moorehead.  

How was George Foreman’s childhood?

George Foreman’s childhood was troubled and it’s something that he admitted in his autobiography. He dropped out of school at 15 and turned to a life of crime. At age 16, Foreman had a change of heart and convinced his mother to sign him up for the Job Corps after seeing an ad for the Corps on TV. When in the Job Corps, he earned his GED and went on to train as a bricklayer and carpenter. He began to train as a boxer after he moved to Pleasanton, California. He was a big fan of legendary NFL running back Jim Brown and idolized him. However, he gave up his football dreams to try his hand at boxing.

George Foreman: Amateur Career

  • George Foreman emerged victorious in his first amateur fight on January 26, 1967, by a first-round knockout in the Parks Diamond Belt Tournament.
  • In March 1968, he won the National Boxing Championships heavyweight title in Toledo, Ohio, vs. Henry Crump of Philadelphia in the final.
  • George Foreman famously sparred for five rounds on two different occasions in July 1968 with former World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston (Liston sparred in 22-oz custom-made Everlast gloves, Foreman later recalled that Liston was the only man who forced him to back up consistently in the ring).
  • On September 21, 1968, he made the US Olympic team for the Mexico City Olympics by beating Otis Evans by unanimous decision.
  • Going into the Olympics, George Foreman boasted an impressive 16-4 record. He knocked out the Soviet Union’s Jonas Čepulis to win the Olympic Games Heavyweight Gold Medal.
  • When he turned professional, George Foreman’s amateur record was 22-4.

George Foreman: Professional Career

When did George Foreman turn professional?

George Foreman turned professional in 1969 with a three-round knockout of Donald Walheim in New York City. He won all 13 of his fights that year (11 by knockout). 

In 1970, Foreman proceeded with his walk toward the undisputed heavyweight title, winning every one of his 12 fights(11 by knockout). Among the rivals he crushed was Gregorio Peralta, whom he decisioned at Madison Square Garden, in spite of the fact that Peralta showed that Foreman was helpless against quick counter-punching blended in with an aggressive boxing style. Foreman at that point crushed George Chuvalo by TKO in three rounds. After this success, Foreman crushed Charlie Polite in four rounds and Boone Kirkman in three. Peralta and Chuvalo were Foreman’s first world-level successes. Peralta was the number-10 positioned heavyweight on the planet in January 1970 while Chuvalo was number seven on the planet.

In 1971, Foreman won seven additional bouts, winning every one of them by knockout, incorporating a rematch with Peralta, whom he crushed by knockout in the tenth and last round in Oakland, California, and a victory over Leroy Caldwell, whom he took out in the second round. Subsequent to reaching a record of 32–0 (29 KO), he was positioned as the main challenger by the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council. 

George Foreman’s title reign

Foreman vs Frazier (Sunshine Showdown, Jamaica)

In 1972, still undefeated and with a great knockout record, Foreman was set to challenge undefeated and undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier. Regardless of boycotting title fight brought about because of the title being taken from Muhammad Ali (because he declined the Vietnam War draft), Frazier had won the title from Jimmy Ellis and successfully defended his title multiple times since, including a 15-round unanimous decision victory over the unbeaten Ali in 1971. This happened after Ali had beaten Oscar Bonavena and Jerry Quarry. Regardless of Foreman’s predominant size and reach, he was not expected to beat Frazier and was a 3:1 dark horse going into the bout. 

The Sunshine Showdown occurred on January 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica, with Foreman ruling the bout to win the title by TKO. In ABC’s rebroadcast, Howard Cosell settled on the noteworthy decision, “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” 

Before the bout, Frazier was 29–0 (25 KO) and Foreman was 37–0 (34 KO). Frazier was knocked down multiple times by Foreman inside the first two rounds itself(the three-knockdown rule was not as a result for this session). After the subsequent knockdown, Frazier’s equilibrium and versatility were hindered to the degree that he couldn’t sidestep Foreman’s vicious combos. Frazier figured out how to get to his feet for every one of the six knockdowns, yet ref Arthur Mercante in the end called a finish to the lopsided fight. 

Foreman was now and again portrayed by the media as a reserved and introverted champion. According to them, he generally appeared to wear a scoff and was not regularly accessible to the press. Foreman later credited his disposition during this time as a result of his fandom of Sonny Liston. Foreman successfully defended his title twice during his underlying rule as champion. His first title defence, in Tokyo, set him in opposition to Puerto Rican Heavyweight Champion José Roman. Roman was not viewed as a force to be reckoned with, yet had figured out how to beat a couple of good contenders, for example, EBU champion Spain Jose Manuel Urtain, and was positioned as the number-seven heavyweight in the March 1973 issue of The Ring. Foreman required just two minutes to end the bout, perhaps the quickest knockout in a heavyweight title bout. 

The Caracas Caper: Foreman versus Norton

Foreman’s next title defense was against a much harder adversary. In 1974, in Caracas, Venezuela, he confronted the exceptionally respected future boxing hall of famer Ken Norton (who was 30–2), a fighter noted for his abnormal crossed-arm boxing style, crab-like safeguard, and hefty punch (a style Foreman imitated in his second stint in pro boxing), who had broken the jaw of Muhammad Ali. Norton had a decent chin and had performed well against Ali in their two matches, winning the first by decision and almost winning the second. (Norton built up a standing for showing nerves against hard hitters, to a great extent starting with this bout.) After an even first round, Foreman staggered Norton with an uppercut a moment into the second round, clasping him into the ropes. Norton didn’t hit the canvas, however proceeded on shaky legs, obviously not having recuperated, and went down a few more times one after another, with the arbitrator interceding and halting the bout. “Ken was magnificent when he got rolling. I didn’t need him to get into the bout”, Foreman said when talked with years later. This bout became famous as the “Caracas Caper”. 

Foreman had traveled past two of the top names in the rankings. The success gave him a 40–0 record with 37 knockouts. 

End of the title reign

The Rumble in the Jungle: Foreman versus Ali 

Foreman’s next title defence, on October 30, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire against Muhammad Ali, was notable. The bout was heavily promoted as the “Thunder in the Jungle”, and it ended up being better than people had expected. 

While preparing there in mid-September, George Foreman suffered a cut above his eye and the fight was postponed by a month. The injury influenced his preparation routine, as it implied he was unable to take part in any sparring on the way to the bout and hazard the cut being resumed. He later remarked: “That was the best thing that happened to Ali when we were in Africa—the way that I needed to prepare for the bout without having the option to box.” Foreman later likewise asserted he was sedated by his mentor before the bout. Ali utilized this chance to visit Zaire, charming himself to people in general, while provoking Foreman at each chance. Foreman was supported, having squashed undefeated heavyweight champion Joe Frazier and brought down imposing challenger Ken Norton both inside two rounds.

At the point when Foreman and Ali met in the ring, Ali started more forcefully than anticipated, outscoring Foreman with furious punching speed. In the second round, Ali withdrew to the ropes, protecting his head and smacking Foreman in the face at each chance. Foreman dove horrible body punches into Ali’s sides. Ali had specifically trained on building his core strength so that he could absorb a brutal barrage of body shots from the hard hitting Foreman. In any case, Foreman couldn’t land numerous enormous punches to Ali’s head. The ring ropes, being bizarrely loose (Foreman later charged that Angelo Dundee had relaxed them, a story upheld by Norman Mailer in the book The Fight), permitted Ali to recline and away from Foreman’s wild swings and afterward to secure Foreman behind the head, compelling Foreman to exhaust a lot of additional energy unraveling himself. Ali likewise continually pushed down on Foreman’s neck, however was never cautioned about doing as such. Right up ’til today, regardless of whether Ali’s pre fight strategy of utilizing velocity and development against Foreman had been quite recently a redirection or his dependence on what he named the “rope-a-dope” was a mid-session act of spontaneity is indistinct. His long-lasting mentor, Angelo Dundee, kept up to his passing; it was not a piece of their procedure, and he had been as amazed by it as every other person. 

Ali kept on taking brutal punishment on his  body in return for the chance to land a hard shock to Foreman’s head. Ali later said he was “out on his feet” twice during the session. As Foreman tired, his punches started to lose power and turned out to be progressively wild. By mid-session an inexorably certain Ali started to insult the depleted champion relentlessly, whose furious blows had been reduced to simple pawing and landing innocuous blows. Late in the eighth round, Ali fell off the ropes with a progression of progressively harder and more precise right hooks on the side and back of Foreman’s head, leaving him stunned and tilting in reverse. After a lightning two-punch whirlwind settled him, Ali finished the session with a mix of strong left hooks and straight right  to the jaw that sent Foreman windmilling hard to the canvas, the first occasion when he had been down in quite a while. 

Foreman later reflected, “it just wasn’t my night “. In spite of the fact that he looked for a rematch with Ali, he failed to get one. In certain quarters it was recommended Ali was dodging him, facing low-challenge adversaries like Chuck Wepner, Richard Dunn, Jean Pierre Coopman, and Alfredo Evangelista. However, Ali also fought against considerable rivals, like Ron Lyle, and offered rematches to the still-perilous Frazier and Ken Norton, the only boxers to have at any point beaten him. Furthermore, Foreman unmistakably lost his edge after the bewildering upset in Zaire. In any case, a possibly monstrous lucrative rematch of Ali against Foreman never occurred, whatever the explanation. 

First comeback

Foreman vs Lyle

Foreman stayed dormant during 1975. In 1976, he reported a rebound and expressed his goal of getting a rematch with Ali. His first adversary was to be Ron Lyle, who had been defeated by Ali in 1975, through eleventh round TKO. Lyle was the number-five evaluated heavyweight on the planet at the time per the March 1976 issue of the Ring. At the finish of the first round, Lyle handled a decisive right that sent Foreman faltering across the ring. In the second round, Foreman beat Lyle against the ropes and may have scored a KO, however because of a timekeeping mistake, the bell rang with Lyle surviving an extra minute. In the third, Foreman squeezed forward, with Lyle holding back to counter off the ropes. In the fourth, a severe slugfest ensued. A group of monstrous punches from Lyle sent Foreman to the canvas once again. At the point when Foreman got up, Lyle staggered him once more, however similarly as Foreman appeared to be done, he fought back with a decisive right to the side of the head, thumping down Lyle. Lyle beat the referee’s count, at that point handled another vicious flurry of punches, wrecking Foreman again. Once more, Foreman beat the referee’s count. Foreman said later that he had never been hit so hard in a bout and peered down at the canvas and saw blood. In the fifth round, the two warriors kept on ignoring safety and landed monstrous punches, looking more like brawlers than trained boxers. Each man staggered the other, and each appeared to be practically out on his feet. At that point, as though at long last drained, Lyle quit punching, and Foreman conveyed twelve unanswered blows until Lyle collapsed on the canvas. Lyle stayed down, giving Foreman a KO triumph. The bout was named by The Ring as “The Fight of the Year”. 

Foreman versus Frazier 2 

For his next bout, Foreman decided to confront old foe Joe Frazier in a rematch. Frazier was then the world’s number-three heavyweight as per The Ring. Because of the uneven nature of Foreman’s triumph in their first bout, and the way that Frazier had taken a gigantic measure of brutal punishment from Ali in Manila a year earlier, Frazier was expected to win again. Frazier now was 32–3, having lost distinctly to Foreman and Ali twice, and Foreman was 41–1, with his sole loss at the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire. Be that as it may, their rematch started seriously, as Frazier utilized speedy head bobs to make Foreman miss with his hardest punches. Frazier was wearing a contact lens for his vision, which was thumped free during the session. Incapable of mounting a critical offense, Frazier was ultimately hit twice by Foreman in the fifth round and the bout was halted. Then, Foreman took out Scott LeDoux in three rounds and prospect John Dino Denis in four to complete the year.

George Foreman: Retirement and Christianity

Foreman had a groundbreaking year in 1977. In the wake of taking out Pedro Agosto in four rounds at Pensacola, Florida, Foreman traveled to Puerto Rico daily before the bout without giving himself an opportunity to adapt. His rival was the gifted fighter Jimmy Young, who had beaten Ron Lyle and lost an exceptionally dubious decision to Muhammad Ali the earlier year. Foreman boxed carefully from the get-go, permitting Young to sink into the bout. Young continually whined about Foreman pushing him, for which Foreman ultimately had a point deducted by the arbitrator, albeit Young was never cautioned for his relentless holding. Foreman severely hurt Young in the seventh round, however couldn’t land a completing blow. Foreman tired during the second half of the bout and endured a knockdown in the 12th round to lose a decision.

George Foreman embraces Christianity

Foreman turned out to be sick in his changing area after the bout. He was experiencing weariness and heatstroke and expressed that he had a brush with death. He discussed being in an unpleasant, alarming spot of nothingness and despair, and understood that he was amidst death. In spite of the fact that he wasn’t really religious, he started to beg God to help him. He clarified that he detected God requesting that he completely change his ways. At the point when he said, “I couldn’t care less if this is passing – I actually accept there is a God”, he felt a hand haul him out and detected that he also had a stigmata.

After this experience, Foreman turned into a born again Christian, devoting his life for the following decade to God. Despite the fact that he didn’t officially resign from boxing, Foreman quit fighting and turned into an appointed pastor, at first lecturing on city intersections prior to turning into the reverend at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston and dedicating himself to his family and his assembly. He additionally opened a youth centre that bears his name. Foreman continues talking about his experience on Christian transmissions, for example, The 700 Club and the Trinity Broadcasting Network and later joked that Young had taken the demon out of him.

George Foreman: Second comeback

In 1987, following 10 years away from the ring, Foreman amazed the boxing scene by reporting a desire to come back to the boxing ring at 38 years old. In his collection of memoirs, he wrote that his essential rationale was to fund-raise to support the youth centre that he had made, which had required a large part of the cash he had acquired in the underlying period of his profession. Another expressed desire was to go against the formidable young pugilist Mike Tyson. For his first bout, he went to Sacramento, California, where he beat understudy Steve Zouski by a knockout in four rounds. Foreman weighed 267 lb (121 kg) for the bout and appeared completely out of shape. Albeit many questioned his choice to get back to the ring and said that he had made a mistake. Foreman countered that he had gotten back to demonstrate that age was not an obstruction to individuals accomplishing their objectives (as he said later, he needed to show that age 40 isn’t a “death sentence” for a boxer’s career). He won four additional bouts that year, steadily thinning down and improving his wellness. In 1988, he won multiple times. Maybe his most eminent win during this period was a seventh-round knockout of previous Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi.

Having consistently been a powerful contender, Foreman had not lost a lot of versatility in the ring since his first “retirement”, in spite of the fact that he struggled with keeping his balance when it came to dodging punches. However, he had no difficulty landing his notoriously powerful blows. The late-round weakness that had tormented him in the ring as an up and coming fighter had also suddenly disappeared and he was able to fight through 12 rounds with ease. Foreman credited this to his new, loosened up battling style (he has talked about how, prior in his vocation, his absence of endurance came from a monumental amount of stress).

By 1989, while proceeding with his second comeback, Foreman had sold his name and face for the publicizing of different items, offering everything from barbecues to suppressors on TV. For this reason, his public persona was reevaluated, and the earlier detached, unfavorable Foreman had been supplanted by a grinning, cordial George. Ali and he had become companions, and he emulated Ali’s example by making himself a superstar outside the ring as well. Foreman proceeded with his series of triumphs, winning five additional bouts, the most amazing being a three-round victory upon Bert Cooper, who proceeded to challenge the undisputed heavyweight title against Evander Holyfield. 

Return to the Top

George Foreman vs Michael Moorer 

In 1994, Foreman again looked to challenge for the big showdown after Michael Moorer had beaten Holyfield for the IBF and WBA titles. Having lost his last bout against Morrison, Foreman was unranked and in no situation to request another title shot. However, he did manage to land a title shot against Moorer, 19 years younger than him. Foreman had everything to gain and nothing to lose in the fight. 

Foreman’s title challenge against Moorer occurred on November 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Foreman wearing similar red trunks he had worn in his title loss to Ali 20 years sooner. This time, nonetheless, Foreman was a considerable dark horse. For nine rounds, Moorer effectively outboxed him, hitting and moving endlessly, while Foreman chugged forward, apparently incapable to “pull the trigger” on his punches. Entering the tenth round, Foreman was lagging behind on all scorecards. In any case, Foreman dispatched a rebound in the tenth round and hit Moorer with various punches. At that point, a short right hand got Moorer on the tip of his jawline, slicing open his lip, and he collapsed immediately on the canvas. As the referee counted, Moorer lay flat on the canvas.

In a moment, Foreman had recovered the title he had lost to Muhammad Ali twenty years earlier. He returned to his corner and stooped in supplication as the field emitted in cheers. With this noteworthy triumph, Foreman broke three records: He became, at age 45, the oldest championship contender at any point to win a big fight; 20 years in the wake of losing his title interestingly, he broke the record for the boxer with the longest stretch between his first and second big title victories; and the age spread of 19 years between the champion and challenger was the biggest of any heavyweight boxing title bout. 

The George Foreman Grill 

At the point when Foreman returned from retirement, he contended that his longevity and success in the ring was because of his smart dieting. He was signed up by Salton, Inc., which was searching for a representative for its fat-decreasing flame griller.This resulted in the birth of the George Foreman Grill, which has sold over 100 million units since 2009.

Despite the fact that Foreman has never confirmed exactly how much he made as a part of his endorsement. However, Salton paid him $138 million in 1999, for naming rights. Preceding that, he was paid about 40% of the benefits on each grill sold (procuring him around $4.5 million every month in payouts at its pinnacle), yielding an expected income of more than $200 million just from the endorsement through 2011, significantly more than he acquired as a fighter. 

Who is George Foreman married to?

George Foreman has been married to Mary Joan Martelly since 1985. Before that, he was married four times: Adrienne Calhoun from 1971 to 1974, Cynthia Lewis from 1977 to 1979, Sharon Goodson from 1981 to 1982, and Andrea Skeete from 1982 to 1985.

How many children does George Foreman have?

George Foreman has 12 children from his five weddings: five sons and seven daughters. His five boys are George Jr., George III (“Monk”), George IV (“Big Wheel”), George V (“Red”), and George VI (“Little Joey”). His seven girls are Natalia, Leola, Freeda, Michi, Georgetta, Isabella, and Courtney. 

Why did George Foreman name all of his sons George?

On his site, Foreman clarifies, “I named every one of my children George Edward Foreman so they would consistently share something for all intents and purpose. I say to them, ‘In the event that one of us goes up, we as a whole go up together, and in the event that one goes down, we as a whole go down together!'” 

Which award was given to George Foreman? 

In acknowledgment of Foreman’s work as a patriot, the American Legion regarded him with its James V. Day “Hero” Award during its 95th National Convention in 2013.

What is George Foreman’s net worth?

As of 2020, George Foreman’s net worth is estimated to be around $200 million. Most of that wealth has come through his endorsement of the George Foreman Grill.

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