George Foreman is a name more recently associated with a certain piece of cooking equipment. However, this American professional boxer has had more skills in his arsenal than simply being able to cook an almost fat free burger – he has twice been the World Heavyweight Champion, is an Olympic gold medalist and has been inducted into both the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Foreman was born in 1949 in Marshall Texas, growing up in Houston as one of six kids. He admits to have been something of a troubled youth but was able to channel most of the aggression into boxing – which he found to be a sport more suited to him than his original choice of football. Foreman’s fights have varied with their quality and of course he hasn’t always won. However, there have been some legendary battles that have showcased what a determined, gritty, courageous fighter he was, and why he has become such a legend in the boxing world.
The Sunshine Showdown vs. Joe Frazier
In 1972 Foreman was flying pretty high with an undefeated points sheet and an impressive knockdown record. He was a 3:1 underdog going into this fight, which took place in Kingston Jamaica, but he dominated the fight all the way through, despite the fact that at the time Joe Frazier was the Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion. Within two rounds, Foreman had knocked Frazier down six times and after the second it was clear that Frazier was starting to suffer from the effects in terms of his balance, responses and mobility. In the end Foreman went on to win via a technical knockout.
The Rumble In The Jungle
If ever there was a fight that was set up from the start to be a clash of the titans it was the 1974 Rumble In The Jungle that took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Foreman’s opponent in this case was the legendary Muhammad Ali who started the fight off much more aggressively than Foreman later admitted he had expected – literally coming out fighting. Despite landing some pretty effective punches on Ali’s sides, Foreman was unable to get to his head, which may well have changed the course of the bout for him. Prior to the match Foreman had suffered a cut above his eye, which forced the match to be postponed for a month and which Foreman said was the “best thing to happen to Ali” in the run up to the event. Foreman lost the fight and even claimed afterwards that the reason for the loss was that he might have been drugged; however he later admitted that it had just not been his day.
Michael Moorer – regaining the World Championship
In 1994 Foreman was unranked and no one expected him to get back into the game when it come to the World Championships, let alone win the title. The fight took place in Las Vegas and Foreman wore the same red shorts he had worn when Muhammad Ali defeated him back in the 70s. He was 19 years older than Moorer at the time and was easily outboxed, but kept slugging away for a result. Until the tenth round he was clearly in the losing spot, until he landed a short right on Moorer’s chin which split it open and the other boxer went down and was counted out, making Foreman once again the Heavyweight World Champion – at 45.
One of the great things about George Foreman is that he never did anything by halves and he certainly didn’t listen to anyone who told him ‘you can’t do that.’ whether they were talking about his boxing or releasing a range of health grills! As these great fights demonstrated, he may often have had the odds stacked against him but he never gave up, and even when he lost he would pick himself up, dust himself off and get back in the ring.
John is a freelance writer from the UK