The first time in the world of boxing about George Foreman learned thanks to his victory at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Foreman defeated Jonas Chepulis by technical knockout in the final. Then Chepulis had not very sweet, because his face was badly broken.
Among the reasons because of which Big George came to the boxing room were excess weight and problems with the Employment Center: “I just came to the gym to lose some weight. Then I had problems with the Employment Center, and they said that if I find it interesting, I can stay in this employment center. It helped me solve problems. I decided that I could become a good street fighter a year after I started boxing, I would return to Houston and beat everyone. I could not even imagine that this road lead me to a gold medal.” However, Foreman has been able to strike since childhood. He fought a lot on the streets of Houston, because he had no other choice: “On the street you should always know who is cooler and stronger. The fighter from me was unimportant. But I fought a lot. There were always reasons. I wonder why I stayed alive.”
Start in professional boxing
For the first time not a pro-ring George Forman was released in 1969. His career was successful and as early as January 1973. Big George claimed the title of absolute world champion in heavyweight boxing and conquered him.
We are talking about the world famous fight between George Forman and the absolute world champion in the heavy weight class Joe Frazier. Both fighters were undefeated at that time, were at the peak of their form, and both were owners of Olympic medals. Already in the 1st round, Fraser was knocked down three times. In the 2nd round, Forman again sent Frazier three times in a knockdown. In the end, George Foreman won by technical knockout in the second round. The fight received the title of “Fight of the Year” according to The Ring. After this fight, Big George became really popular. But the most interesting is yet to come.
Rumble in the jungle
October 30, 1974 took place the legendary boxing event – the fight between George Foreman and Mohammed Ali. This fight was a debut for Don King as a promoter. King decided to organize a duel in Africa. Thus, for the first time in the history of boxing, the fight for the title of world heavyweight champion took place on the African continent. Then, few people bet on Ali’s victory. Foreman had a record with 40 wins in 40 battles, 37 of which ahead of time. Among the boxers that George knocked out were Ken Norton and Joe Frazier. And they once defeated Mohammed Ali.
Ali set off his trademark psychological pressure on his opponent. For example, his phrase, “I saw George Foreman boxing with a shadow, and a shadow won,” made history. Big George remained calm and tuned in to victory. The fight itself took place in difficult climatic conditions – high humidity and heat affected the condition of the boxers. Both athletes began to exhaust from the 1st round. In the middle of the 2nd round, Ali chose his tactics – he hung on the ropes, and delivered strikes only in a counterattack. In the first half of the battle, Ali missed several powerful blows, from which, according to him, he began to hallucinate. However, most of the Forman’s kicks were not effective and they exhausted him a lot. Ali successfully took advantage of this. In the 7th round, Mohammed Ali began working number one, and in the 8th, he sent Foreman to the ring flooring. Big George managed to get on his feet at the expense of 9, but the referee stopped the fight. This was the first loss in Foreman’s career. He was morally broken and did not expect such an outcome, because he lost his titles.
The bout was marked by “The Rumble in the Jungle,” and The Ring Magazine called it “Fight of the Year.” In 1997, the documentary “When We Were Kings” appeared on the screens about the events of this fight. Indeed, this confrontation was the meeting of two kings of boxing of the twentieth century.
The following fights and departure from boxing
After losing to Ali, Forman recovered and continued his boxing career. He coped with Ron Lyle in 1976, not without problems. The fight was spectacular and competitive, but George managed to win. An interesting event was the 2nd bout between Foreman and Fraser. Once again, Big George won by knocking out Frazier in the 5th round. The next defeat was waiting for Foreman in 1977. Then many boxing fans were surprised by Jimmy Young. He knocked down George in the last round and won by unanimous decision. After this fight, Foreman decides to leave boxing. For 10 years, George was a preacher in his native Houston. Foreman was involved in missionary work, built a church, collected donations, created a youth religious center and wrote books.
“I only knew boxing as a method of murder, and the moment came when I could no longer do it. For ten years after that, I never even squeezed my hand into a fist. He became a preacher, opened a youth center for children with the same problems I had them. I never taught them to beat a person in anger. You want to learn boxing – please, but you don’t need anger. And so, teaching them how to deal with aggression, taught myself. With the help of these guys I became different man, and even was able to return to boxing.”
10 years after his departure from boxing, Big George decides to return. The motive for the return was material needs. After all, missionary activity requires costs, but does not bring profit. “Everything is trivial: I was poorer. I would certainly have preferred to be, say, a golfer, because it is much easier to return to golf at forty years old. But I am a boxer. I don’t know how to do anything else. While others went to college’s profession, I professionally beat people in the face. And when I ran out of money, there were no other ways to get it. ”
During this period, Foreman defeated Steve Zousky, Rocky Sekorsky, Duat Mohammed Qawi, Carlos Hernandez, Tony Fulilangi, David Jaco, Mark Young, Bert Cooper, Everett Martin, Jerry Cooney, Mike Jameson and Edilson Rodrigues. In 1991, George Foreman entered the ring against the absolute world champion Evander Holyfield. Few people bet on the victory of 42-year-old Foreman. Despite the defeat, Big George surprised everyone with his excellent form and the fact that he survived the whole fight, losing on points. After the fight, Foreman said that even in 42 years you can achieve your goals.
After that, George had a few more successful fights, and in 1993 he lost to Tommy Morrison on points. In 1994, Forman fought with WBA heavyweight champion, IBF Michael Murer. Throughout the battle, Murer led on points. But in the 10th round, Foreman unexpectedly knocked out Murer. Thus, George Foreman became the world’s oldest heavyweight champion at the age of 45.
Care and attempts to return
Due to the failure to enter the ring against challenger Tony Facker, the WBA deprived Foreman of his title. And in 1995, George lost his IBF belt due to the refusal to hold a rematch with Axel Schultz after their first fight, in which Forman won an ambiguous victory. Another controversial victory went to Forman in a battle against Lou Savaraze in April 1997. The last fight for George was the fight against Shannon Briggs, which he lost on points. George again leaves boxing and returns to his pastoral work.
Later, Foreman tried again to return to boxing and signed a contract for the fight on January 23, 1999 with Larry Holmes. But in a few weeks the fight was canceled due to financial problems. In 2004, George said that he continues to train and wants to prove that in 55 years you can win. But he never entered the ring: “Having won the championship belt at the age of 45, he wanted to win at the age of 55. But my wife said that if I stumble again about this, she will leave home. You see, with her it is enough to be the mother of a horde of children, when there is not a single second in life that you don’t spend worrying about them. And when I was in the ring, she was also worried about me, and apparently she was fed up with it. In general, I decided that being a 55-year-old champion and a 55-year-old bachelor is no longer as cool as a 55-year-old champion.”
Comeback Foreman was carefully planned by him and who took it to promote Bob Arum. George gradually approached the summit through many warm-up fights. In spite of the fact that, at times, the overfull Foreman looked awkwardly and even funny in the ring, he managed to record victories not only over the “bags”, but, in particular, over such famous fighters as Dwight Muhammad Qavi, Bert Cooper and Jerry Cooney . The ultimate goal of Big George was to meet in the ring with the then dominator of heavyweight, a great knocker Mike Tyson. However, by the time Foreman approached the battle for the title of world champion, Iron Mike had already lost all his belts in a duel with James Buster Douglas, who, in turn, was then knocked out by ex-world cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield.
The battle for the title of world champion, to which Foreman went 16 and half years after the defeat of Mohammed Ali, took place in April 1991. Rivals gave a dynamic, gallant match, and Holyfield bodybuilding folded due to the advantages in speed, maneuverability and vigor managed to score points by unanimous decision although the final score for the 42-year-old Big George was not so devastating – 116-111, 117-110 and 115-112. After that, Foreman began to conduct fights, as a rule, only with the elite super weights of the time. After the defeat in June 1993 in a duel for the WBO world title considered second-rate from Tommy Morrison, who was 20 years younger than him, Foreman left the ring by a year and a half.
But then he was challenged by the freshly baked WBA and IBF world champion Michael Moorer, who had not been defeated at the time, who had previously won the world light heavyweight title. This fight, which took place in November 1994, was a high point for the 45-year-old Big George. Losing on points, Foreman was honored to knock out Murer with a direct blow to the right, becoming not only a record-holder in the most senior championship in boxing history, but also a two-time world champion. George lost both conquered championship belts without a fight. At first, he did not want to meet with WBA official challenger Tony Tucker and was deprived of the belt of this organization. And then, unconvincingly holding the first defense of the IBF title against the German Axel Schulz refused to give him a rematch, for which he was deprived of the belt and this federation.
Ranch and Church
Now George Foreman continues to preach, conducts worship, is engaged in charity, and also collects retro cars. Foreman has another favorite activity – the cowboy case: “It was always my blue dream. I bought the first ranch in California back in 1973. But I somehow didn’t stick to the cows. Then I moved to Marshall, I bought 50 acres with cows and horses. Now I have about 600 acres and I have more horses than cows. So I’m a cowboy. But I love horses too. I love to go to the stable, choose a horse and – go ahead, feed your flock. It is better to study and not to invent.
For beginner athletes, Big George gives this advice: “Starting a little, studying the case, and no matter how much you achieve, you need to enjoy fame, because it’s not so important how good you are. If people don’t know about you, then your progress is not enough.” In the case of Foreman, it is difficult to remain anonymous, because he has some of the most spectacular fights in boxing history and also very, very strong blows.