Olympic gold medalist. Author. Puncher. Commentator. Celebrity. Preacher. American hero. George Foreman is all of these and more.
The career of the former two-time heavyweight champion GEORGE FOREMAN spans four decades – but that would be accounting for two George Foremans:
one who went to Zaire as the most fearsome and disliked fighter of his day; and
the second who came out of a two year depression after the demoralizing defeat to Muhammad Ali in ” The Rumble in the Jungle” to resurrect his career and reshape his image into that of one of the world’s most popular athletes.
Foreman was born on January 22, 1948 in Marshall, Texas, east of Dallas near the Louisiana border. Growing up in Houston, his troubled childhood included arrests for snatching purses and other petty thefts. He was a street tough who might have ended up in jail had it not been for his entrance into the Job Corps and the early influence of football great Jim Brown.
Foreman won the heavyweight gold medal at the 1968 Olympics and began his professional career the following year. The 21 year-old Texan had 13 sanctioned fights that year, winning all of them, 11 by knockouts. The following year he had a dozen bouts, again winning them all, failing to knockout only one opponent.
Before his first retirement in 1977, Foreman amassed 42 knockouts in 47 professional fights. No one in the modern history of the sport has been that devastating a puncher.
On January 22, 1973, on his 25th Birthday, Foreman knocked out titleholder Joe Frazier in the second round to become world heavyweight champion. He defended the title later that year, knocking out Jose Roman in the first round. In March 1974, he knocked out challenger Ken Norton in round two to defend his crown in Caracas, Venezuela. The world caved in on Foreman in Zaire, coming to Africa as better than a 3-1 favorite against Ali and leaving as victim of one of boxing’s most humiliating upsets. “Big” George suffered the only knock out loss of his illustrious career.
Fighting only exhibition matches in 1975, Foreman returned to the sanctioned arena the following year, knocking out all four of his opponents – including Frazier who this time lasted until round five. In 1977, after the fourth round knockout over a non-contender in January, he lost a 12-round decision to Jimmy Young and, with it, the will to continue fighting.
He had found a new calling as a preacher for the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Houston, Texas. Preaching, however, was not as lucrative a profession as punching and, after an absence of 10 years, financial need forced Foreman back into the ring. In 1987, when Foreman began his comeback in the boxing ring after a ten-year retirement, the opportunity to fight for the heavyweight championship seemed like a distant dream. If it was a new George Foreman who humbly, and with good humor, fielded media questions and warmly endorsed products on television, it looked like the same old fighter with a “KO Win” in the sports pages. But at age 39, many thought Foreman wasn’t the same fighter.
From 1987 through 1993, Foreman fought 29 times, winning 27 – 25 by knockout. His two losses, however, came in his only two title bouts: in 1991 against Evander Holyfield for the World Boxing Association title and in 1993 to Tommie Morrison for the World Boxing Organization crown. However, on November 5, 1994, Foreman achieved that dream and more — 20 years after first losing his title to Muhammad Ali in Zaire. In an astonishing tenth round KO of Michael Moorer, Foreman once again became the heavyweight champion of the world. By fighting for the title, Foreman fulfilled a prophecy he established when he returned to the ring — continuing to fight until challenging for the heavyweight championship.
As the oldest heavyweight champion in history (45 years old), Foreman had shown that old age isn’t a death sentence. His remarkable ring record stands at 76-5, 68 KOs. The 51-year-old’s comeback has captivated the American public, making “Big George” a living American folk hero.
won+ (Jun-23-1969, New York) Donald Waldheim ko 3 won+ (Jun-30-1969, Houston) Fred Askew ko 1 won+ (Jul-14-1969, Washington) Sylvester Dulaire ko 1 won+ (Aug-18-1969, New York) Chuck Wepner kot 3 won+ (Sep-18-1969, Seattle) John Carroll ko 3 won+ (Sep-23-1969, Houston) Cookie Wallace ko 2 won+ (Oct-7-1969, Houston) Vernon Clay ko 2 won+ (Oct-31-1969, New York) Roberto Davila 8 won+ (Nov-5-1969, Scranton) Leo Peterson ko 4 won+ (Nov-18-1969, Houston) Max Martinez ko 2 won+ (Dec-6-1969, Las Vegas) Bob Hazelton ko 1 won+ (Dec-16-1969, Miami Beach) Levi Forte 10 won+ (Dec-18-1969, Seattle) Gary Wiler ko 1
won+ (Jan-6-1970, Houston) Charlie Polite ko 4 won+ (Jan-26-1970, New York) Jack O’Halloran ko 5 won+ (Feb-16-1970, New York) Gregorio Peralta 10 won+ (Mar-30-1970, Houston) Rufus Brassell ko 1 won+ (Apr-17-1970, New York) James J. Woody ko 3 won+ (Apr-29-1970, Cleveland) Aaron Eastling ko 4 won+ (May-16-1970, Los Angeles) George Johnson kot 7 won+ (Jul-20-1970, Philadelphia) Roger Russell ko 1 won+ (Aug-4-1970, New York) George Chuvalo ko 3 won+ (Nov-3-1970, Oklahoma City) Lou Bailey ko 3 won+ (Nov-18-1970, New York) Boone Kirkman ko 2 won+ (Dec-18-1970, Seattle) Mel Turnbow kot 1
won+ (Feb-8-1971, Saint-Paul) Charlie Boston ko 1 won+ (Apr-3-1971, Lake Geneva) Stanford Harris ko 2 won+ (May-8-1971, Oakland) Gregorio Peralta kot 10 (North America, Heavyweight) won+ (Sep-14-1971, El Paso) Vic Scott ko 1 won+ (Sep-21-1971, Beaumont) Leroy Caldwell ko 2 won+ (Oct-8-1971, San Antonio) Ollie Wilson ko 2 won+ (Oct-29-1971, New York) Luis Faustino Pires kot 4
won+ (Feb-29-1972, Austin) Murphy Goodwin ko 2 won+ (Mar-7-1972, Beaumont) Clarence Boone ko 2 won+ (Apr-10-1972, Inglewood) Ted Gullick ko 2 won+ (May-11-1972, Oakland) Miguel Angel Paez ko 2 won+ (Oct-10-1972, Salt Lake City) Terry Sorrels ko 2
won+ (Jan-22-1973, Kingston) Joe Frazier ko 2 (World, Heavyweight) won+ (Sep-1-1973, Tokyo) Jose Roman ko 1 (World, Heavyweight)
won+ (Mar-25-1974, Caracas) Ken Norton kot 2 (World, Heavyweight) loss- (Oct-30-1974, Kinshasa) Cassius Clay ko 8 (World, Heavyweight)
won+ (Jan-24-1976, Las Vegas) Ron Lyle ko 4 (North America, Heavyweight) won+ (Jun-14-1976, Uniondale) Joe Frazier ko 5 (North America, Heavyweight) won+ (Aug-14-1976, Utica) Scott Ledoux ko 3 won+ (Oct-15-1976, Hollywood) Dino Dennis kot 4
won+ (Jan-22-1977, Pensacola) Pedro Agosto ko 4 loss- (Mar-17-1977, San Juan) Jimmy Young 12
won+ (Mar-9-1987, Sacramento) Steve Zouski kot 4 won+ (Jul-9-1987, Oakland) Charles Hostetter ko 3 won+ (Sep-15-1987, Springfield) Bobby Crabtree kot 6 won+ (Nov-21-1987, Orlando) Tim Anderson kot 4 won+ (Dec-18-1987, Las Vegas) Rocky Sekorski kot 3
won+ (Jan-23-1988, Orlando) Tom Trim ko 1 won+ (Feb-5-1988, Las Vegas) Guido Trane kot 5 won+ (Mar-19-1988, Las Vegas) Dwight Braxton kot 7 won+ (May-21-1988, Anchorage) Frank Lux kot 3 won+ (Jun-26-1988, Atlantic City) Carlos Hernandez ko 4 won+ (Aug-25-1988, Fort Myers) Ladislao Mijangos kot 2 won+ (Sep-10-1988, Auburn Hills) Bobby Hitz ko 1 won+ (Oct-27-1988, Marshall) Tony Fulilangi ko 2 won+ (Dec-28-1988, Bakersfield) David Jaco ko 1
won+ (Jan-26-1989, Rochester) Mark Young kot 7 won+ (Feb-16-1989, Orlando) Manuel Clay De Almeida kot 3 won+ (Apr-29-1989, Galveston) J.B. Williamson kot 5 won+ (Jun-1-1989, Phoenix) Bert Cooper kot 3 won+ (Jul-20-1989, Tucson) Everett Martin 10
won+ (Jan-15-1990, Atlantic City) Gerry Cooney kot 2 won+ (Apr-17-1990, Lake Tahoe) Mike Jameson kot 4 won+ (Jun-16-1990, Las Vegas) Adilson Rodrigues ko 2 won+ (Jul-31-1990, Edmonton) Ken Lakusta ko 3 won+ (Sep-25-1990, London) Terry Anderson ko 1
loss- (Apr-19-1991, Atlantic City) Evander Holyfield 12 (World, Heavyweight) won+ (Dec-7-1991, Reno) Jimmy Ellis kot 3
won+ (Apr-11-1992, Las Vegas) Alex Stewart 10
won+ (Jan-16-1993, Reno) Pierre Coetzer kot 8 loss- (Jun-7-1993, Las Vegas) Tommy Morrison 12 (W.B.O., Heavyweight)
won+ (Nov-5-1994, Las Vegas) Michael Moorer ko 10 (World, Heavyweight)
4.3.1995: Foreman is stripped of W.B.A. title for refusing fight number one contender Tony Tucker. won+ (Apr-22-1995, Las Vegas) Axel Schulz 12 (I.B.F., Heavyweight) 29.6.1995: Foreman abandons the I.B.F. instead of fighting a rematch with Axel Schulz.