The Rollercoaster Career of “Big” George Foreman!
By Ken Hissner: “Big” George Foreman admitted to a troubled childhood before convincing his mother he wanted to join the Job Corps. He began boxing as an amateur in 1966, posting a 21-5 record, winning the 1968 National AAU championship and the Mexico City Olympics Gold Medal stopping the Soviet Union’s Jonas Chepulis.
In 1969 Foreman turned professional and won his first thirty-eight fights when in Kingston, Jamaica, in January of 1973, he upset world champion Philadelphia’s “Smokin” Joe Frazier, 29-0, in two rounds.
In Foreman’s second defense, he stopped Ken Norton, 30-2, in Caracas, VZ, in March of 1974. His former trainer Eddie Futch told me in Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia he refused to work the corner of Norton for this fight.
In Foreman’s next fight in October, he was upset by the former world heavyweight champion Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali, 44-2, in eight rounds in what was called “The Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire, Africa, in October.
Foreman didn’t fight again until January of 1976 in what was considered the “Fight of the Year” when behind on two cards, he knocked out Ron Lyle, 31-3-1, in the fifth round, for the vacant North American Boxing Federation title.
In June, Foreman again stopped Frazier at the Nassau Coliseum in five rounds. He scored five straight stoppages after losing to Ali when he fought another Philadelphia boxer named Jimmy Young, 20-5-2, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, losing a decision being knocked down in the twelfth and final round.
In the dressing room, lying on a table, Foreman, in what he referred to as a “religious epiphany” in a vision of Jesus Christ, he retired to eventually become a Baptist minister.
It would be ten years when Foreman made a comeback in March of 1987, winning twenty-four straight, twenty-three by stoppage, before losing to world champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 25-0 by decision in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in April of 1991.
Foreman would go on to win three straight before losing to Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, 36-1, for the vacant WBO world title in June of 1993 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Seventeen months later though losing this fight, he got another title chance at the age of forty-five in knocking out world champion Michael “Double M” Moorer, 35-0, in the tenth round while being behind on all three scorecards.
Foreman would defend his title in April 1995, defeating Germany’s Axel Schulz, 21-1-1, by a disputed majority decision. Shortly after this fight, he would be stripped of his title, refusing to give Schulz a rematch.
In Foreman’s next two fights, he defeated Crawford “The Terminator” Grimsley, 20-0, in Tokyo, Japan, in 1996 and Lou Savarese, 36-0, by split decision, in Atlantic City, in April of 1997.
In what would be his final bout, he lost a disputed majority decision to Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, 29-1, in Atlantic City and retire at the age of 48. His final record was 76-5 with 68 stoppages.
Foreman would be inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He would go on to become a ringside analyst for HBO for twelve years. His promotion of the George Foreman Grill sold more than 100 million units worldwide. In 1999, he sold the commercial rights to the grill for $138 million.
Foreman is a father to twelve children, including five sons who are all named George. What a “rollercoaster” career for the former world boxing heavyweight champion!
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