Childhood & Early Life
George Edward Foreman was born on 10 January 1949, in Marshall, Texas, USA. He was raised by his mother Nancy and stepfather J.D. Foreman whom his mother married after he was born. His biological father was Leroy Moorehead.
He grew up with six siblings in a very poor household in Houston, Texas. His stepfather was a drunkard and spent all his money on alcohol. The family depended on Nancy’s meager salary.
As a teenager, he often got into trouble with the law. He dropped out of school at the age of 15. He often got involved in street fights and gang clashes. It was during these years that he decided to join ‘Job Corps’ and moved to California to get trained in boxing.
Continue Reading Below
In 1968, Foreman went on to win a gold medal in the ‘Summer Olympics’ in Mexico City, Mexico. It was during this time that there were riots in the US over civil rights. The African-American community was still under confusion whether or not to support the US policy. Many African-American athletes were publicly showing their contempt against the US policy. However, it did not deter Foreman from winning the medal for his country.
In 1969, Foreman decided to take up boxing professionally and went through serious and rigorous training sessions. The same year, he took part in his first pro boxing match against Don Walheim in New York City. He won the match in a three-round knockout.
1969 and 1970 were glorious years in the career of Foreman as he fought in 13 matches in 1969 and won all of them. In 1970, he continued winning boxing matches by knocking out 11 men in total. Despite all his wins, people criticized Foreman and said that he only won these matches because he fought against the has-beens.
In 1973, he silenced his critics by fighting the ace champion Joe Frazier. In this epic match, Foreman sent Frazier to the mat twice by the end of the first round. By the end of the second round, Frazier was beaten.
In 1974, Foreman participated in a match against the infamous heavyweight boxer Ken Norton. Ken Norton was notorious for his awkward boxing techniques and for breaking Muhammad Ali’s jaw. By the second round, Foreman had beaten Norton so badly that he wobbled in the ring and the referee had to intervene to stop the fight. This gave Foreman a 40-0 record with 37 knockouts.
In the summer of 1974, Foreman suffered his first defeat. He fought against Muhammad Ali in a match that took place in Congo. It was a tough match where both the boxers fought very hard. By the eighth round, Foreman was tired and with Ali’s final blow to his head and jaw it was declared that Foreman had lost the match.
Foreman made a comeback in 1976 in Las Vegas. He fought against Ron Lyle and after the fifth round Foreman sent Lyle to the ground and won the match. This win helped him gain confidence which he had lost after the match against Muhammad Ali.
In 1977, Foreman won a match against Pedro Agosto in Florida, but lost a match against Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico. Foreman was tired by the second half of the fight and endured a flash knockdown at the hands of Young.
It was in the dressing room after the fight with Jimmy Young that Foreman became ill and claimed to have suffered a near death experience. Later on, he said that it was in that moment of despair and suffering that he decided to change the ways of his life and dedicate his life to Christianity. He became a born-again Christian and stopped fighting.
Continue Reading Below
In the following years, he became an ordained minister in Houston, Texas, and devoted his life to god and his family. He also opened a youth center and shared his spiritual experience on television. He also started appearing on chat shows like ‘The 700 Club.’
After 10 years of keeping himself away from the boxing ring, Foreman decided to make a comeback at the age of 38, surprising everyone. Despite being out of shape, he knocked out Steve Zouski in the fourth round of the match in Sacramento, California.
In 1988, he won nine fights, notably knocking out the Cruiserweight Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi in one of the fights.
By 1989, Foreman had started using his popularity to sell diverse products by appearing on TV commercials. Thanks to his frequent TV appearances, he went on to become a household name in the US. In these commercials, he was portrayed as a smiling and gentle person as opposed to the image he had as a boxer.
In 1991, Foreman fought the Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield for the world title in a pay-per-view boxing event. Although, Foreman lasted the full 12 rounds, Holyfield proved to be too strong for him and Foreman lost the match.
In 1993, Foreman lost a match against Tommy Morrison. Morrison was more agile and younger than Foreman and he tired him out by the 12th round. Foreman was denied an opportunity to fight in another championship match after his loss to Morrison, but he took the case to the court pleading age discrimination and eventually won the case.
In 1994, he fought against Michael Moorer in a title match in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the first nine rounds Moorer boxed well, but in the 10th round Foreman punched Moorer in the chin and the latter landed flat on his back. This win earned Foreman the championship that he had lost to Muhammad Ali 20 years ago—the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation Heavyweight title.
In 1997, Foreman took part in a match against Shannon Briggs. The winner was to face WBC champion Lennox Lewis. By the 12th round, Briggs was declared the winner and Foreman retired for good at the age of 48.
Continue Reading Below
In 1974, Foreman’s match, famously promoted as ‘The Rumble in the Jungle,’ against Muhammad Ali was a historical match and an important one in the life of Foreman. At the end of the match, Foreman faced defeat for the first time in his boxing career.
In 1987, Foreman made his comeback after 20 years of retirement from boxing. He won at the age of 38 in a match against Steve Zouski by knocking him out in the fourth round. He won the match despite being out of shape. He stated that he wanted to show everyone that age doesn’t define one’s success or failure.
In 1994, he became the world champion by defeating Michael Moorer in Las Vegas. He won the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation, the title he had lost to Muhammad Ali in the epic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ 20 years back.
On November 5, 1994, at the age of 45, he became the oldest heavyweight champion when he knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round.
Foreman’s loss to Muhammad Ali dented his pride and he got caught in a self-destructive cycle by wasting money and womanizing. In 1989, Muhammad Ali and Foreman became good friends.
Foreman came out of retirement in 1987 because he had exhausted all his money and needed to support his children.
For his title match against Michael Moorer in Las Vegas, Foreman wore the same red trunks that he had worn against Ali 20 years back.
He was signed as a spokesperson for Salton's fat-reducing grill. It is said that ‘Salton, Inc.’ paid him around 138 million dollars to buy out the rights to name its fat-reducing grill, ‘George Foreman Grill.’
He has named all his five sons George Edward Foreman. He hopes the name would keep them together. He has also said that his sons will always have something in common.