oldest fighter ever to win the World Heavyweight
George Edward Foreman was born
in Marshall, Texas, on January 10, 1949, and
raised in Houston. During his youth he was often
in trouble with the law, known for literally
"shaking people down" for money by
actually holding them upside-down by their feet.
As a teenager, however, he decided it was time to
do something better with his life, so he joined
the Job Corps. While stationed in Oregon he
became well-known for picking fights with fellow
trainees. On the verge of expulsion, Foreman met
with Job Corps supervisor Charles "Doc"
Broadus, who saw promise in Foreman's physical
size and strength. Under Broadus' direction,
Foreman trained to be a boxer.
Foreman fought 18 matches as an
amateur, and won 16 of them. After qualifying for
the 1968 U.S. Olympic boxing team, Foreman went
on to win the heavyweight class gold medal in
Foreman turned professional in
1969. His first professional fight ended with a
three round knockout of Donald Walheim. He went
on to win all 13 of his fights that year, 11 of
them by knockout.
In 1970, Foreman won all 12 of
his fights, all of them by knockout. The only
opponent who lasted into the tenth round was
Foreman won 7 more fights in
1971, including another tenth round knockout of
Gregorio Peralta. Having amassed a record of
32-0, it was no surprise that Foreman ended the
year ranked Number One by both the World Boxing
Association and the World Boxing Congress.
Foreman's winning streak
continued through 1972, with all 5 of his fights
ending with knockouts within three rounds.
On January 22, 1973, Foreman
faced world Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica, and knocked him
out in the second round to become the new
Heavyweight Champion of the World. This was
also the first event ever televised by HBO
Foreman's first defense of his
title took place in Tokyo, against Puerto Rican
Heavyweight Champion Jose Roman. The fight was
over in 50 seconds, the fastest ever knockout in
a world Heavyweight Championship bout. His second
successful title defense came in 1974, in
Caracas, Venezuela, where he scored a second
round knockout over Ken Norton (who had defeated
Muhammad Ali the previous year).
In the late summer of 1974,
Foreman moved to Zaire (now the People's Republic
of the Congo) in preparation for his next title
fight -- against Muhammad Ali. In what became
known as "The Rumble in the Jungle,"
Ali's speed and agility allowed him to evade many
of Foreman's powerful punches, and Foreman was
knocked out in the eighth round.
After sitting out 1975, Foreman
returned in 1976 to knockout Ron Lyle in five
rounds, in Las Vegas. A rematch with Joe Frazier
ended with a knockout of Frazier in the fifth
round. He rounded out the year by knocking out
Scott Ledoux in three rounds, and Dino Dennis in
In 1977 Foreman served a
knockout to Pedro Agosto in four rounds at
Pensacola, Florida. His next fight, however,
would lead to a life-changing decision. After
losing a 12-round decision to Jimmy Young in
Puerto Rico, Foreman became very ill in his
dressing room. Suffering from exhaustion and
heatstroke, Foreman actually believed he was on
the verge of death. The experience led him to
retire from boxing, dedicate his life to
Christianity, and become an ordained minister. He
spent the next decade ministering a church in
Texas and operating a youth center which still
bears his name.
In 1987 Foreman surprised the
boxing world by announcing a comeback. He said
that he wanted to prove that even after the age
of 40 people could still achieve their goals. For
his first fight back, he went to Sacramento,
California, where he beat Steve Zouski by
knockout in four rounds. He won 4 more bouts that
year, 9 in 1988, and 5 in 1989.
Having again become a ranked
contender by 1990, Foreman defeated former title
challenger Gerry Cooney by knockout in two
rounds, and then went on to win 4 more before the
year was over.
Foreman's main comeback goal
was to regain the World Heavyweight Championship.
He finally got that chance in 1991, and met
Evander Holyfield for the title in a Pay Per View
event. Foreman went twelve rounds with Holyfield
before losing the decision. Although he had lost
the fight, he told reporters that he had realized
at least half of his dream -- showing the world
that someone over the age of 40 could still go
the full twelve rounds.
Foreman fought two more bouts
before receiving his next shot for a world title,
for the vacant World Boxing Organization
championship against Tommy Morrison. Although
Morrison defeated Foreman in twelve rounds by
decision, Foreman still refused to give up on his
Foreman's next shot at a world
championship came on November 5, 1994, when he
met Michael Moorer in Las Vegas. Moorer, who had
won both the International Boxing Federation and
World Boxing Association titles by beating
Evander Holyfield, was well ahead in the bout
when Foreman suddenly knocked him out in the
tenth round to take both titles. Foreman had
suddenly broken two records -- at age 45, he was
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 most time in between
Foreman's accomplishment was
short-lived however, as the World Boxing
Association took the title away from him after he
refused to fight mandatory opponent Tony Tucker.
Foreman went on to beat Axel Schulz by a
twelve-round decision to solidify his
International Boxing Federation title. The
judges' decision was challenged by Schulz,
however, and the IBF ordered an immediate rematch
to be held in Germany. Foreman refused to travel
to Germany, and the IBF subsequently stripped him
of that title.
In 1996, Foreman met Crawford
Grimsley in Tokyo, and defeated him by decision
in twelve rounds. In 1997, he defeated Lou
Savarese by decision. After the World Boxing
Congress refused to give the winner of his fight
with Shannon Briggs a title shot against champion
Lennox Lewis, Foreman and Briggs fought to a
twelve-round majority decision, with Briggs
coming out the winner.
Foreman planned to fight Larry
Holmes in 1999, at the Houston Astrodome in a
Pay-Per-View event. Billed as "The Birthday
Bash" because the fight was scheduled close
to both fighters' upcoming birthdays, the fight
was set to make $10 million for Foreman and $4
million for Holmes. Negotiations fell through,
however, and the fight was ultimately cancelled.
Along with announcement of the fight's
cancellation came Foreman's announcement that he
had no plans to resume his career as a boxer.
Foreman had been a television
spokesman for everything from hamburgers to
mufflers since before his first retirement, and
had become well known for his Meineke Mufflers
ads. In 1995, he introduced the George Foreman
Lean Mean Grilling Machine to the television
public, and since then more than 55 million of
them have been sold. Interestingly, Foreman has
made far more money from the sales of his grills
(over $150 million so far) than he made during
his entire boxing career. In 1999, Salton (the
manufacturer of his grills) bought the rights to
use Foreman's name and selling skills in
perpetuity for $127.5 million in cash and $10
million in stock -- one of the biggest
endorsement ever signed by any athlete. In 2004,
George Foreman Enterprises was launched, the
first venture of which was promotion of the
George Foreman brand of "Big and Tall"
clothes through the retailer Casual Male. In
2005, his company launched a promotional venture
with Circle Groups Holdings, Inc., which centered
on the promotion of a new zero-calorie fat
substitute called Z-Trim. Foreman declared Z-Trim
his "new secret," and to date it has
unfortunately largely remained that way.
In January 2003, Foreman was
elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
That same year, he was named boxing's ninth
greatest puncher of all time by Ring Magazine.
George Foreman and his wife
Joan have ten children -- five sons and five
daughters. All five of his sons are named George
Edward Foreman, and one daughter is named
The Official Site of George Foreman
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