George Foreman has lived many lives. A street hoodlum in his younger years, Foreman then joined the Job Corp and turned his life around. Later still, George became a full-time preacher. And when it comes to his boxing career, or careers, Foreman really did do it all:
Olympic gold medal winner. Heavyweight champion of the world twice over. Numerous super-fights fought. Shock upset wins scored. Shock upset defeats suffered. And of course, comebacks.
After stunning Joe Frazier and the world with those six brutal knockdowns in Jamaica in January of 1973, Foreman soon ran into the one-and-only Muhammad Ali. The biggest fight in history took place in Zaire, and Foreman was felled. It took him some time to get back up. Comeback number-one came in the form of a fiercely unforgettable war with Ron Lyle. Then George fell victim to another clever boxer. Jimmy Young was no Ali but Foreman was down, yet not out, once again. It was March of 1977 and Foreman left the boxing arena. For a full decade.
The 1987 comeback was vastly ridiculed. Foreman believed if no-one else did. But soon enough, fans everywhere began to climb on board. The letters poured into the boxing magazines, with fans letting everyone know that, yes, Foreman would make good on his vow of regaining the title. Foreman had the support of the fans in a way perhaps no other fighter ever has. Gerry Cooney was crushed in what was looked at as Foreman’s first genuine comeback test, while fringe contender Adilson Rodrigues (who is today battling pugilistic dementia in Brazil) was also neatly despatched. Foreman had “earned” a shot at Evander Holyfield’s world title.
12 heroic rounds later, Foreman had to get busy launching yet another comeback. Foreman was not done dreaming. A points loss to Tommy Morrison for the WBO belt also failed to stop “Big George.” And then, finally – 20 years after he’d been beaten by Ali – Foreman whacked out Holyfield’s conqueror, Michael Moorer, and the crown was again in the Texan’s mighty hands.
What a story. What a career. What a life. And George is still here, happy and healthy, able to remember ever single bit of it. Today George turns 73. Millions of people all over the globe will join together in wishing Foreman a happy birthday. King George is boxing royalty. Foreman is arguably the greatest living fighter. Foreman is without a doubt deserving of a massive section of his own in the history books.
George Foreman: 76-5(68) – heavyweight champion 1973 to 1974, 1994 to 1997.