David Aaron Gray

"Don't believe everything 
you hear on the radio"
- Charles Foster Kane

David Aaron Gray (Blog)

The Punching Preacher and The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine: Second Acts in Life and the Art of the Comeback, cont'd

Posted by davidaarongray on January 27, 2013 at 4:10 AM

4) George Foreman (Professional boxer and entrepreneur)




THE RISE


George Edward Foreman was born on January 10, 1949, in Marshall, Texas, and grew up in Houston's rough Fifth Ward district. A self-proclaimed thug, he dropped out of school in the ninth grade, and ran with street gangs until he joined the Job Corps in 1965.


The Job Corps provided Foreman with a connection to boxing trainer Doc Broaddus, who encouraged him to apply his fighting skills in the ring. Foreman adapted quickly enough that he was named to the U.S. Olympic boxing team for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In October 1968, Foreman won the gold medal in the heavyweight boxing division. He went pro shortly afterward.


At 6 feet 3 1/2 inches and 218 pounds, Foreman was a fearsome ring presence who brutalized opponents with his raw power. He won his first 37 professional fights before earning a shot at heavyweight champion "Smokin'" Joe Frazier on Jan 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica. Foreman was a decided underdog against Frazier, but he shockingly knocked the champ down six times over the course of just two rounds to claim the heavyweight crown.



ABOVE: A young George Foreman looks on from the other side of the ring after knocking down Joe Frazier a sixth time



THE FALL


Foreman's reign ended with a loss to Muhammad Ali in the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" title bout in Kinshasa, Zaire, on October 30, 1974. It was Foreman's only defeat by knockout in his professional career. Foreman's quest for another title shot was derailed with a loss to nimble-footed Jimmy Young in March of 1977.



ABOVE: Foreman literally "FALLS" for the first time in his career at the expense of Muhammad Ali's "rope a dope" strategy


Exhausted and dehydrated after the fight, Foreman claimed to have a religious awakening and retired.


THE COMEBACK


Ten years after his loss to Young, at age 38—and with an extra 50 pounds added to his already massive frame, Foreman returned to professional boxing. Foreman failed to impress boxing fans in his comeback win over Steve Zouski, but he worked himself into better shape as he knocked out a string of improving opponents, and was eventually given a title shot against heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.


Although he lost a bout to Holyfield on April 19, 1991, in Atlantic City, Foreman earned praise for going the distance against the younger champion.


Then, it happened…clad in the same red trunks he wore during his bout against Ali, the 46-year-old Foreman knocked out reigning champion Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their title fight on November 5, 1994, to become the oldest heavyweight champ in history.


Take a look at round 10 punch for punch below:



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Though he was stripped of his title belts by the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation for refusing to fight their mandated opponents, he remained one of boxing's top draws.


Already a familiar commercial pitchman, most famously for the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine, Foreman remained busy after leaving the ring for the second time. He continued to preach at his church in Houston, and joined HBO Sports' boxing broadcast team.


In December 1999, Foreman Grill manufacturer Salton, Inc. paid Foreman $137.5 million in cash and stock for rights to his name and image. Other Foreman ventures include a clothing line, several books and a reality show featuring Foreman's wife, Joan, and 10 children, including five boys named George. Foreman was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame on June 8, 2003. By that time, however, the sport that had made him a champion was practically a footnote to his famously successful career.

Categories: Top Comebacks of All Time

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