Foreman, son of JB and Nancy Foreman, is a native of Marshall, Texas. During his youth, he was often in trouble, bullying local children. It was while he was at the Job Corps, that he discovered he had talent to become a boxer, so he started visiting the boxing gym.
Foreman had a stellar amateur boxing career, culminating in his winning of a gold medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. When he held an American flag in his hand after winning the gold, he faced Uncle Tom accusations from some sections of the black community.
Foreman turned professional in 1969 with a three round knockout of Donald Walheim in New York. He had a total of 13 fights that year, winning all, 11 by knockout. Among the fighters he defeated were Chuck Wepner, by knockout in three, and Cookie Wallace, who lasted only two.
In 1970, Foreman continued rolling on, winning all 12 bouts, 11 by knockout. Among the opponents he beat were Gregorio Peralta, who lasted the ten round distance with Foreman at the Madison Square Garden, George Chuvalo, beaten in three, Charlie Polite, who lasted four, and Boone Kirkman, knocked out in three.
In 1971, Foreman won seven more fights, including a rematch with Peralta, whom he defeated by knockout in the tenth and last round in Oakland, California and a win over Leroy Caldwell, who went in the second. After amassing a record of 32-0, Foreman was ranked as the number one challenger by the WBA and WBC.
In 1972, his string of wins continued, winning five bouts in a row, all within three rounds.
With that, Foreman was set to challenge for the world's Heavyweight championship, and so, in January 22, 1973, Foreman faced world Heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica, knocking him out in the second round to become the world's champion. In what was HBO Boxing's first transmission ever, the call made by Howard Cosell, the broadcaster that night (Down goes Frazier!!, Down goes Frazier!!, Down goes Frazier!) became one of the most memorable sports calls of all time.
Foreman was sometimes characterized by the media as an aloof and anti-social champion. According to them, he always seemed to wear a sneer in his face during this time, and was at times not available to the press.
Nevertheless, Foreman went on to defend his title successfully twice during this reign, his first defense, in Tokyo against Puerto Rican Heavyweight champion Jose Roman lasted only 50 seconds, the fastest ever for a world Heavyweight championship bout. In his next defense, in 1974 in Caracas, Venezuela, he beat Ken Norton, who had just beaten Muhammad Ali, in two rounds.
His next defense, however, spelled doom: During the late summer of '74, he moved to Congo (then Zaire), where he would defend against Ali, in what became known as The Rumble In The Jungle. During training there, he suffered a cut, having to suspend the fight for one more month. Ali dedicated this month to endear himself to the public of Zaire, and taunt Foreman at every possible stop, making Foreman very angry and frustrated. When they finally squared off, Foreman suffered his first defeat, being knocked out in the eighth round.
He spent 1975 inactive, but in 1976, he returned to boxing, in Las Vegas. He boxed Ron Lyle, in a fight hailed by Ring Magazine as The Fight Of The Year. After being on the canvas twice, Foreman knocked out Lyle in the fifth round. Then, he knocked out Frazier in a rematch in five, Scott Ledoux in three, and Dino Dennis in four to finish the year.
1977 would prove to be a life changing year for Foreman. After knocking out Pedro Agosto in four rounds at Pensacola, Florida, Foreman flew to Puerto Rico, where he lost a 12-round decision to Jimmy Young. Foreman then went to his dressing room and fainted, starting to sing christian songs and recite Bible passages. After that experience, Foreman became a born-again Christian, dedicating his life for the next decade to Christianity.
Foreman retired from boxing, and became an ordained minister of a church in Texas. But in 1987, he surprised the boxing world by announcing a comeback. For his first fight back, he went to Sacramento, where he beat Steve Zouski by a knockout in four rounds. Foreman claimed he returned to the ring to prove that even after the age of 40 people could still achieve their goals. He won four more bouts in '87, and in 1988, he won nine, including a seven round knockout against former world Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
By that time, Foreman had become a successful business entrepreneur, selling everything from hamburgers to grills to mufflers on TV. He and Ali had become very good friends, and he followed in his former rival and friend's footsteps by making himself a celebrity outside the boundaries of boxing too.
In 1989, Foreman continued his winning ways, winning five fights, including a 5-round knockout of former world Light Heavyweight champion JB Williamson, and a 3-round win over future Heavyweight title challenger Bert Cooper.
In 1990, Foreman became once again a ranked contender, and he beat former title challenger Gerry Cooney by a knockout in two. He won four more fights that year.
He started 1991 by realizing one of his dreams and challenging world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield for the world title in what became the first Pay Per View boxing event in history. Foreman went twelve rounds with Holyfield before losing the decision. Round 7 was Ring Magazine's Round Of The Year. Once the fight was finished Foreman made the reporters feel half of his dream had been completed by saying that he showed the world people can go the full 12 rounds after reaching their forties.
Foreman boxed only twice more before receiving his next world title shot, for the vacant WBO championship against Tommy Morrison. Morrison beat Foreman in twelve rounds by decision, but Foreman refused to give up on his dream.
In 1994, Foreman once again went for the world championship, after Michael Moorer had beaten Holyfield for the IBF and WBA titles. Foreman was trailing badly on all scorecards when he knocked out Moorer in the 10th round on November 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada. With this, Foreman broke two records: He became, at the age of 44, the oldest fighter ever to win the world Heavyweight crown, and, 20 years after losing his world title for the first time, he broke the record for the fighter with the most time in between one world championship run and the next.
In 1995, Foreman beat Axel Schultz of Germany to retain his title, by a 12-round decision. But this fight became the catalyst of a big controversy: The IBF ordered an immediate rematch, to be held in Germany. But Foreman refused to travel to Germany to defend his titles, and gave both the WBA and IBF belts away.
In 1996, Foreman returned to Tokyo, where he beat Crawford Grimsley by a 12-round decision, and in 1997, he also beat Lou Savarese by decision. After the WBC decided to give the winner of his fight with Shannon Briggs a title shot against world champion Lennox Lewis, Foreman and Briggs fought, Briggs winning a 12-round split decision. After this bout, Foreman announced his retirement.
Foreman planned to box a return bout against Larry Holmes in 1999, but after the cancellation of the bout, he said he had no plans to resume his career as a boxer. However, recently he has said he is reconsidering his decision and thinking of a comeback.
He has a record of 76 wins, 5 losses and 68 wins by knockout. He is now an avid autograph signer and he comments on boxing for HBO. Apart from his ads for Meineke mufflers, Foreman also tours the world promoting his George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. He has eight kids, (including some of his daughters), named George after him. His daughter, Freeda Foreman, is a former competitor in the sport of Women's boxing.
In January of 2003, Foreman was elected to the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, where he was inducted in June. That same year, he was named boxing's ninth greatest puncher of all time by Ring Magazine.
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