|English: George Foreman speaking at the Rice Alliance Kickoff in Houston, Texas in September 2009.
George Edward Foreman (nicknamed “Big George”) (born January 10, 1949) is a retired American professional boxer, former two-time World Heavyweight Champion, Olympic gold medalist, ordained Baptist minister, author, and entrepreneur. After a troubled childhood, Foreman took up boxing and was a gold medalist at the 1968 Olympics. He won the World Heavyweight title with a second round knockout of then-undefeated Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica in 1973. He made two successful title defenses before losing to Muhammad Ali in “The Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974. He was unable to secure another title shot, and retired following a loss to Jimmy Young in 1977. Claiming to have had a religious epiphany, Foreman became an ordained Christian minister. Ten years later, he announced a comeback and, in November 1994, at age 45, he regained the Heavyweight Championship by knocking out Michael Moorer. He remains the oldest Heavyweight Champion in history. He retired in 1997 at the age of 48, with a final record of 76–5, including 68 knockouts.
Foreman has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame
and the International Boxing Hall of Fame
. The International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) rates Foreman as the eighth greatest heavyweight of all-time.
In 2002, he was named one of the 25 greatest fighters of the past 80 years by The Ring
magazine. The Ring
ranked him as the 9th greatest puncher of all-time.
He was a ringside analyst forHBO
‘s boxing coverage for twelve years, leaving in 2004.
Outside of boxing, he is a successful entrepreneur and is known for his promotion of the George Foreman Grill
, which has sold over 100 million units worldwide.
In 1999 he sold the naming rights to the grill for $138 million.
George Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas
. He grew up in the Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas
, with six siblings.
Although raised by J.D. Foreman, whom his mother had married when George was a small child, his biological father was Leroy Moorehead. Foreman was interested in football and idolized Jim Brown
, but gave it up for boxing. He won a gold medal in the boxing/heavyweight division
at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games
. By his own admission in his autobiography, George was a troubled youth. He dropped out of school at the age of fifteen, he later joined the Job Corps
, later moving toPleasanton, California
with the help of a supervisor, he began to train in boxing
Foreman had an amateur record of 22–4, losing twice to Clay Hodges (also defeated by Max Briggs in his first ever fight). Foreman turned professional in 1969 with a three-round knockout
in New York
. He had a total of 13 fights that year, winning all of them (11 by knockout).
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
although Peralta gave a very good account of himself and showed George was vulnerable to fast counter punching mixed with an assertive boxing style. But the boxing world shuddered when George Chuvalo
was defeated by technical knockout (TKO) in three rounds. After this impressive win, Foreman defeated Charlie Polite
in four rounds and Boone Kirkman
In 1971, Foreman won seven more fights, winning all of them by knockout, 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 (29 KO), Foreman was ranked as the number one challenger by the WBA
The Sunshine Showdown vs. Joe Frazier
In 1972, still undefeated, and with an impressive knockout record, Foreman was set to challenge undefeated and Undisputed
Champion Joe Frazier
. Despite boycotting a title elimination caused by the vacancy resulting from the championship being stripped from Muhammad Ali
, Frazier had won the title from Jimmy Ellis
and defended his title four times since, including a 15-round unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Ali in 1971 after Ali had beaten Oscar Bonavena
and Jerry Quarry
. Despite Foreman’s superior size and reach, he was not expected to beat Frazier
and was a 3:1 underdog going into the fight.
The Sunshine Showdown took place on January 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica
, with Foreman dominating the fight to win the championship by technical knockout. In ABC’s re-broadcast, Howard Cosell
made the memorable call, “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). Frazier was knocked down six times by Foreman within two rounds, with the three knockdowns rule being waived for this bout. After the second knockdown, Frazier’s balance and mobility were impaired to the extent that he was unable to evade Foreman’s combinations. Frazier managed to get to his feet for all six knockdowns, but referee Arthur Mercante
eventually called an end to the one-sided 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. 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 José Roman
. Roman was not regarded as a top contender and it took Foreman only 2 minutes to end the fight, one of the fastest knockouts in a Heavyweight Championship bout.
Title defense versus Ken Norton
Foreman’s next defense was against a much tougher opponent. In 1974, in Caracas
, he faced the highly regarded hall-of-famer Ken Norton
(who was 30–2), a boxer noted for his awkward crossed-arm boxing style, crab-like defense and heavy punch (a style Foreman would emulate in his comeback), who had broken the jaw of Muhammad Ali
in a points victory a year earlier. Norton had a good chin, and had performed well against Ali in their two matches, winning the first on points and nearly winning the second. (Norton would develop a reputation for showing nerves against heavy hitters, largely beginning with this fight.) After an even first round, Foreman staggered Norton with an uppercut a minute into round two, buckling him into the ropes. Norton did not hit the canvas, but continued on wobbly legs, clearly not having recovered, and shortly he went down a further two times in quick succession, with the referee intervening and stopping the fight. “Ken was awesome when he got going. I didn’t want him to get into the fight,” Foreman said when interviewed years later.
Foreman had cruised past two of the top names in the rankings. The win gave him an impressive 40–0 record with 37 knockouts.