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the oldest fighter ever to win the World Heavyweight crown
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 Mexico City.
Foreman celebrating his Olympic gold medal win
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 Gregorio Peralta.
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 Boxing.
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. On October 30, 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 knock out 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 four.
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 dream.
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 championships.
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 deals 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.
Foreman promoting his Lean Mean Grilling Machine
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 Georgette Foreman.
The Official Site of George Foreman
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This page was last updated on November 13, 2018.