By: Ken Hissner
In a country that has grown more and more divided over the past several years with the promise of “change” the people in the White House could take a lesson of the “real change” that Big George Foreman went through on March 17, 1977. “A hero is someone right who doesn’t change,” said Foreman. On that day Foreman learned right from wrong from the Almighty!
I once wrote for a website called “Fighters of Faith” and would get the questions “how could someone be a Christian and a fighter?” I would tell them “ever hear of David and Goliath?” They say God works in mysterious ways and the conversion in the attitude of Foreman was nothing short of miraculous!
Growing up in the streets of the Fifth Ward in Houston, TX, young George Foreman was one mean person who practiced his throwing by putting rocks through windows of abandoned factories. He joined the Job Corp hoping to use those hands for some good not bad. “I grew up in the Fifth Ward. The bloody fifth they called it. Every week-end someone got killed,” said Foreman.
Foreman even idolized Hall of Fame NFL star Jim Brown. Talk about a role model and someone with a chip on their shoulder. “When I was a kid growing up in Houston we were so poor we couldn’t afford the last 2 letters, so we called ourselves po’,” said Foreman.
On January 26, 1967, several weeks past his 18th birthday he won his first amateur bout by knockout in the Parks Diamond Belt Tournament. His first trainer was Nick “Doc” Broadus. His amateur record was 22-4. He won the 1968 Gold Medal in the Mexico City Olympics that September. When you think about it he went from a raw amateur to a world amateur champion in 20 months.
Foreman previously won the National AAU title in Toledo, OH, in March of 1968. In July he sparred with the then Heavyweight champion Sonny Liston on two different occasions. In September he defeated Otis Evans for the second time to make the US team. At the Olympics he defeat Lucjan Trela (Poland) 4-1, Ion Alexe (Romania) RSC- 3, Girgio Bambini (Italy) KO2 and Ionas Chepulis (Soviet Union) RSC-2 for the Gold medal. When he walked around the ring waving two small American flags while several other athletes were pushing “black power”, Foreman became an instant hero for the truly American people.
On the 1968 USA team won 7 medals with Foreman and Ronnie Harris the only Gold winners. I’ve done stories on 2, Armando Muniz and Sammy Goss. Art Redden and James Wallington are deceased. Of the 10 members there were 6 with the Armed Forces. Something you rarely see today.
Foreman turned professional stopping Brooklyn’s Don Waldheim, 5-4-2, in 3 rounds at Madison Square Garden in June of 1969 on the undercard of “Smokin” Joe Frazier and Jerry Quarry NYSAC title bout. Who knew 18 months later Foreman would meet Frazier in Jamaica for the WBC/WBA titles?
Defeating Chuck Wepner, 18-4-2, in his fourth fight was quite an accomplishment. Wepner had his 9 fight win streak stopped in his last fight by Joe Roman, a future title challenger of Foreman’s in 1973. Today Wepner considers Foreman a friend. “After one of his fights a friend and I visited him in his dressing room and he made me feel real good in front of my friend,” said Wepner.
In Foreman’s eighth fight he went the distance of 8 rounds with Peru’s Roberto Davila in the main event in Madison Square Garden. Davila would be only 1 of 3 boxers in Foreman’s first 40 unbeaten fights not to be stopped by Foreman. In December in his twelfth fight Levi Forte, 19-21-2, was down in the second round but managed to go the distance of 10 rounds.
Foreman’s seventeenth fight was his first real test in meeting Argentina’s Gregorio Peralta, 77-5-8, at the Garden in February of 1970 under the Frazier-Jimmy Ellis card. The voting was scattered but Peralta gave Foreman a good fight losing 9-1, 7-3 and 5-4. Foreman would go on to score 24 straight knockouts after this fight including a tenth round stoppage of Peralta some 14 months later.
Included in Foreman’s knockout streak was George Chuvalo, 59-15-2, whom he stopped in 3 rounds. Boone Kirkman was 22-1 and on an 11 fight streak when he was stopped in 2 rounds. Ring Magazine gave Foreman the Progress of the Year Fighter for 1970. He was 12-0 that year. In his thirty-sixth fight he stopped the Argentine champion Miguel Angel Paez, 48-15-3, for the Pan American title.
On January 22, 1973 Foreman would travel to Kingston, Jamaica, to challenge Frazier for the WBC/WBA world titles. There were 23,000 in attendance with Howard Cosell announcing at ringside. People can still hear him saying “Frazier is down. Frazier is down!” Frazier hit the canvas 3 times in the first round and 3 times in the second round before referee Arthur Mercante finally stopped it at 2:26 of the round after a Foreman right uppercut actually lifted Frazier off the canvas. “I was scared to death of Joe Frazier before that fight,” said Foreman.
It would be 22 years before Foreman could successfully defend his title in the US. His first defense was in Tokyo, Japan, against Joe Roman, 43-7-1, of Puerto Rico, who had won 22 of his 23 previous fights but was no match for Foreman. Foreman dropped Roman with a right uppercut. When he got up he was a bent over target taking punches when another right uppercut put him down and out. Edson could have counted to 100. Foreman was still the heavyweight champion of the WBC/WBA. This was 8 months after stopping Frazier. He received the Ring Fighter of the year in 1973.
Next would be Ken Norton, 30-2, in Caracas, VZ, in March of 1974. Norton had a dispute with his trainer Eddie Futch and would be without Futch in the corner. Norton came out moving like he was Ali but he could never be able to stay away from Foreman this way.
When Norton decided to stand his ground he paid for it. Foreman put him up against the ropes as Norton tried to move to his left but got caught by 3 straight right uppercuts that knocked him back into the ropes. As he bounced off the ropes the referee Jimmy Rondeau wisely gave him a count. Again Foreman rushed Norton and a right uppercut knocked him into the ropes and he took a second count.
Foreman charged him again and landed 3 out of 4 punches with the last putting Norton down for a third time. He tried pulling himself up but was in no condition to continue as his corner was running up the steps to stop it at 2:00 of the second round. Eddie Futch told me “Norton asked me to come back after that fight but I decided not to.
After winning his first 40 fights with 37 by knockout Foreman looked indestructible. He signed to meet Muhammad Ali. The people in Zaire, now the Congo, received Ali with a hero’s welcome. The fight would be postponed when Foreman received a cut in sparring. The promoter would not allow either fighter to leave the country.
The fight finally took place in October of 1974. Ali was 44-2 at the time. American referee Zach Clayton would also serve as a judge and had an association with Don King. Even during the instructions in the ring Clayton allowed Ali to chatter away at the menacing Foreman.
Without Ali’s trainer Angelo Dundee knowing it Ali made the “rope-a-dope” defense famous that night. Some say he got it from Philly’s “Gypsy” Joe Harris at the Pollock Mink Farm training site near Dear Lake, PA. In Foreman’s corner were legendary knockout king and former world light heavyweight champion Archie Moore and also Dick Saddler.
Foreman only knew one way to fight and that was to seek and destroy. It was later revealed to me by legendary trainer Cus D’Amato he advised Ali to land the first punch and as hard as he could to make Foreman aware of his power. Ali did just that and the fighters fell into a clinch. Ali was taking heavy punishment while leaning against the ropes allowing Foreman to open up while covering up.
Another tactic by Ali was to pull down on the back of Foreman’s neck to tire him. Referee Clayton would never warn him for this infraction. Ali easily took the first round as Foreman took the second though missing as much as he was landing with Ali on the defense. Foreman continued throwing more punches than Ali and taking the third round.
The fourth and fifth rounds were close with Ali gaining an edge while Foreman was starting to show signs of tiring. In the sixth round Ali started out fast landing good jabs and right hands and referee Clayton finally warned Ali for holding behind the head for the first time. By the end of the round both fighters were slowing down with foreman throwing wide arm punches.
In the seventh Foreman though slowed down seemed to get the better of Ali who was not throwing much in return. Two judges had Ali ahead by scores of 70-67 (as did this writer), 69-66 and the referee 68-66.
In the eighth round with Ali in the corner Foreman threw a wide left hook that Ali avoided and almost went over the top rope. With about 30 seconds to go in the round and Ali’s back to the corner he landed 2 solid right hands and Foreman looked hurt and starting to fall into the ropes. Ali landed a third right hand on the back of the head. As Ali spun out of the corner with Foreman following a right, left and a missed right followed by a left and right hurting Foreman who was spinning out of control and down to the canvas.
Though it seemed like a quick count, Foreman got up at ten and just walked back to his corner. The fight was over with Ali taking the title more by cleverness and a little help from the referee. It was over at 2:58 of the eighth round with Ali regaining the title and Foreman suffering his first loss in 41 fights.
The only activity Foreman had in 1975 was an exhibition in Toronto opposing 5 boxers. Ali and promoter Don King were at ringside with Howard Cosell calling the action. The opponents were Alonzo Johnson (KO2), Jerry Judge (KO2), Terry Daniels (KO2), Charley Polite (W3) and Boone Kirkman (W3) in a carnival atmosphere.
Foreman would come back in January of 1976 against the ever dangerous Ron Lyle, 31-3-1, in January of 1976 for the vacant NABF title. Ali announced he would defend against Chuck Wepner in March. Foreman-Lyle would be one of the most brutal fights in the history of the heavyweight division.
In Foreman’s corner would be Gil Clancy while Kenny Adams was in the corner of Lyle. This was almost 3 years since Clancy took Jerry Quarry a heavy underdog into the ring in New York and completely befuddled Lyle for his first loss. Lyle was coming off a knockout win over Earnie Shavers.
Lyle raced across the ring at the opening bell trying to land a lead right hand the way Ali did in Zaire but Foreman easily stepped to the side avoiding Lyle’s tactic. Halfway through the round Foreman landed a left hook that knocked Lyle off balance. An overhand right by Lyle rocked Foreman with about 20 seconds to go in the round.
In the second round Lyle ran across and missed again to start the round. Both fighters were mixing it up pretty good when Foreman landed a left hook that raised the right leg of Lyle off the canvas. He missed with a second but landed a solid right. Lyle went back to the ropes. Foreman landed a good right with Lyle now in the corner followed by a good left hook. Lyle landed a short right at the bell as both fighters stared at each other walking to their corners.
In the fourth round Lyle landed a good straight right hand over Foreman’s left jab that got Foreman’s attention. Inside a right uppercut by Lyle jarred Foreman. A left hook, right hand and right uppercut followed by a left hook knocked Foreman off balance and in trouble. As Lyle followed him toward the ropes he landed a right and followed with a left hook. It seemed Foreman was starting to fall forward and a little help from Lyle leaning on him as Foreman hit the canvas and Lyle tried to hit him with a right uppercut that just missed. This was a total war.
Foreman beat the count and tied Lyle up and was moving him around in circles. In the middle of the ring it was a slugfest as Foreman landed a left, right and left that hurt Lyle. A pair of Foreman right hands to the head and Lyle was on the canvas.
Lyle barely beat the count and leaned back on the ropes with both hands holding the top strand while Foreman was doing the same in the corner as the referee seemed to be checking if Lyle was all right to continue. Foreman landed 4 unanswered solid left hooks with Lyle on the ropes. Foreman ducked a right hand and when he came back up got caught with a left hook.
In the middle of the ring Lyle landed 7 unanswered punches starting with a right uppercut. As both fighters threw rights at the same time Lyle’s got in first and down went Foreman landing on his right arm. It was the second time in the fight he was down. As Foreman managed to get to his feet in the middle of the ring the bell ended the fourth round.
In the fifth round fighting inside Foreman landed a 5 punch combination. After a break Lyle landed a good left hook. Foreman was hurt but managed to bully Lyle to the ropes. Both fighters seemed very tired from throwing so many punches. Both fighters had their hands down as Foreman lands 4 straight jabs followed by a straight right on the jaw. Lyle comes back with right uppercut to the jaw of Foreman.
Foreman lands 7 straight unanswered punches with the last 3 being left hooks to the head of Lyle who falls to his left against the ropes. Lyle seems out on his feet as Foreman lands over a dozen punches seemingly in slow motion. Lyle had nothing else left as Foreman steps back and Lyle goes head first to the canvas. As he struggled to get to his knees he rolled over on his back and is counted out at 2:28 of the fifth round.
In June, Foreman guest starred on an episode of Sanford and Son playing himself. It would be 3 ½ years since Foreman fought Frazier when they signed for a rematch. Frazier even shaved his head so he could “slip” the punches better. Since their first fight Frazier beat Jerry Quarry and Jimmy Ellis but lost to Ali in the “Thrilla in Manila” in his most recent bout. This time the only thing at stake was the NABF title Foreman won in defeating Lyle.
“Generally when there’s a lot of smoke…there’s just a whole lot more smoke”, said Foreman. He dominated this fight hurting Frazier with lead rights and lefts to the body. Frazier wasn’t the same fighter that would come inside and throw that left hook. He was showing Foreman too much respect.
In the fifth round Frazier with his back to the ropes got hurt with a Foreman combination. A follow-up left had Frazier in more trouble when a lead right and left hook to the jaw dropped Frazier. He got up and Foreman came across the ring from the opposite corner to land punch after punch until a final combination dropped Frazier in the corner. Though he beat the count he was done. His corner signaled to the referee Harold Valan to stop it at 2:26 of the fifth.
“My mother was watching on television and she doesn’t want me to hurt anyone,” said Foreman. Just 2 months later Foreman stopped Scott LeDoux, 18-3-1, in 3. Again 2 months after that John “Dino” Denis, 28-0-1 was stopped in 4. In 1976 he was again voted the Ring Fighter of the Year.
Starting off January of 1977 Foreman blasted Pedro Agosto, 27-7-1, down 2 times in the third and 3 times in the forth causing an automatic stoppage at 2:34. Foreman increased his record to 45-1 with 42 knockouts. “I’m a winner each and every time I go into the ring,” said Foreman.
In March of 1977, Foreman traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to meet Philly’s Jimmy Young, 20-5-2, at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. Young was very crafty and had just defeated Ron Lyle. He was 13-1-2 in his last 16 fights. He drew with Earnie Shavers in a rematch and Billy Aird in the UK. The only defeat was a controversial one to Ali. Young seemed to do better against bigger opponents. He was a classic boxer who gave Joe Frazier hell in the gym.
Gil Clancy was with Foreman in the corner. Clancy was an IBHOF trainer and one of the best commentators at ringside there ever was, passing away March 31, of 2011. This was a close fight from the outset. Young, a very good defensive boxer was making sure Foreman used his legs in the outdoor heat of San Juan. Going into the last round Foreman had little left as Young scored a knockdown. He didn’t need it to win but it did give him a 115-114 score on one judge’s card as the other two had it 116-112 and 116-111 all for Young. This was Ring’s 1977 “Fight of the Year”.
In the dressing room Foreman was laying on the table when he became ill suffering from exhaustion and heatstroke. He claimed he found himself in a hellish place of nothingness and despair. He pleaded to God to help him. He felt God asked him to change his life. After this experience of CHANGE Foreman was “born again” and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The once mean Foreman would not only become friendly but even quite a comic.
“George Foreman, a miracle. A mystery to myself. Who am I? The mirror says back, the George you were always meant to be. Wasn’t always like that. Used to look in the mirror and cried a river,” said Foreman.
Foreman would eventually become ordained into the ministry in Houston, TX. He also opened a youth center. “I don’t even think about a retirement program because I’m working for the Lord, the Almighty. Even though the Lord’s pay isn’t very high, his retirement program is, you might say, out of this world,” said Foreman. Foreman would go on Christian talk shows and share his testimony. He appeared on The 700 Club and the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and would later joke that Young had knocked the devil out of him.
“The Internal Revenue Service is the real undefeated heavyweight champion. They’ll take everything, even your tears,” said Foreman. The earnings had all but run out. It would be almost 10 years at the age of 38, to the day when he decided to return to the boxing ring in March of 1987 in Sacramento stopping Steve Zouski, 25-11 in the fourth round. By year’s end he had scored 5 straight knockouts.
In 1988 Foreman scored 9 more straight knockouts upping his streak to 14. Among his victims that year were former WBA cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi, 28-5-1. Foreman would stop him in a somewhat competitive fight in 7.
In 1989 Foreman was 5-0. He stopped former WBC light heavyweight champion JB Williamson, 23-4 and “Smokin” Bert Cooper, 20-4, who didn’t come out for the third round. In Foreman’s last fight of the year in July Everett “Bigfoot” Martin, 17-7-1, came off the canvas in the eighth round and went the full 10 stopping Foreman’s knockout streak at 18.
It would be close to 6 months before Foreman would take on his most serious opponent in his comeback in “Gentleman” Gerry Cooney, 28-2, in January of 1990 in Atlantic City. Cooney hadn’t fought in 2 ½ years since losing to Michael Spinks. It didn’t go any better for Cooney this time being stopped in 2 rounds. Before the year was out 4 more bit the dust making it 24 straight wins with 23 by knockout.
It would be over 16 years since Foreman fought for the world title. He paid his dues and would fight Evander Holyfield, 25-0, for the WBC, WBA and IBF titles in Atlantic City in April of 1991. Both Michael Moorer and Tommy Morrison would be on the undercard in separate bouts.
“I want to keep fighting because it is the only thing that keeps me out of the hamburger joints. If I don’t fight, I’ll eat this planet,” said Foreman. In the seventh round a round house right from Foreman knocked Holyfield off balance. It was a big round for Foreman.
In the eleventh round on the third warning referee Rudy Battle took a point away from Foreman for a low blow. Holyfield was on the move that round not wanting to take anymore body shots than possible. He was holding onto Foreman and the fans were very upset with the younger champ.
In the twelfth and final round Holyfield was dancing around Foreman and mostly throwing rights. Archie Moore, working Foreman’s corner was yelling “punch him”. Foreman was exhausted by this time chasing Holyfield. The fans were on their feet. Foreman may not have won the fight but he won the respect of Holyfield and the fans. Holyfield would get the decision by scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 115-112.
It would be 8 months after Holyfield before Foreman would fight again. Holyfield signed to meet “Smokin” Bert Cooper who Foreman had defeatedd on his comeback. Foreman stopped “the other” Jimmy Ellis, 16-0-1, in 3 rounds in Reno at the end of 1991. In early 1992 he was matched with hard hitting Alex Stewart, 28-3 (28), who never had a fight go the distance. He had losses to Holyfield, Tyson and Moorer. This would be the second straight semi-windup bout for Foreman and it was a hard fight right down to the wire. Foreman took a majority decision, 94-93 twice and 94-94.
It wouldn’t be until January of 1993 before Foreman would fight South African Pierre Coetzer, 39-4, a hard hitting puncher who had just lost back to back fights with unbeaten Riddick Bowe and Frank Bruno. Foreman would stop Coetzer in the eighth round. Tommy Morrison beat Carl “The Truth” Williams on the same card. Foreman and Morrison would meet for the vacant WBO title in June.
Morrison was 36-1 with 8 straight knockouts since losing to Ray Mercer. Foreman expected a war but instead Morrison would punch and move. He stayed a step ahead of Foreman and won a clear decision. In the meantime former IBF light heavyweight champion Michael Moorer started campaigning in the heavyweights and won the WBO title. When he did get a chance for the WBA and IBF titles he dethroned Holyfield. Though Foreman was idle for 17 months he got the first shot at Moorer in November of 1994.
Foreman was 45 years old and stood little chance with the 35-0 southpaw Moorer. Going into the tenth round he was behind 88-83 twice and 86-85. In the tenth Moorer was not moving as much and seemed stunned by a Foreman jab which was followed by a straight right hand and down went Moorer. Foreman became the oldest fighter to ever win the heavyweight title at 45. There were those who questioned the outcome. “Sure the fight was fixed. I fixed it with a right hand,” said Foreman.
The WBA wanted Foreman to fight Tony “TNT” Tucker, 52-2 (42), the former IBF champion. He declined and was stripped of his title. He still had the IBF title and would defend it against the German Axel Schultz, 21-1-1, in April of 1995. The vacant WBU title was also on the line. Schultz had defeated the former WBA champion James “Bonecrusher” Smith in his previous fight. The German surprised Foreman and a lot of fans by giving him one tough fight. In the end Foreman would get the win 115-113 twice and 114-114 for a majority decision. Schultz wanted a rematch in Germany and Foreman declined giving up the IBF title.
Some 19 months later at the age of 47 Foreman defended his WBU title in Chiba, Japan, by defeating Crawford Grimsley, 20-0, over 12 rounds. In April of 1997 at 48 Foreman defeated Lou Savarese, 36-0, in Atlantic City by split decision in his last WBU defense. In November Foreman would have his final fight in April of 1977 losing a majority and disputed decision to 25 year old Shannon Briggs in Atlantic City. He would announce his retirement.
In 1999 a promoter tried to put Foreman and Larry Holmes in a match. The plans were for a January 2000 “Birthday Bash” with Foreman turning 51. It was reported both fighters received a sum of money when the promoter couldn’t come up with enough to cover the fight.
Foreman was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990. The first year he was eligible for the World Boxing Hall of Fame he was inducted on October 18, 2002. He was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 2003. He is ranked No. 9 on Ring Magazine’s list of “100 greatest punchers of all time”.
Foreman has starred in ads for Meineke Mufflers and has become highly successful with his “Lean Mean Grilling Machine”. Change doesn’t come easy for most but that day losing to the now deceased Jimmy Young in a lonely dressing room in Puerto Rico is the day George Foreman became a CHANGED man!
Through Foreman’s younger brother Roy I was given a chance to run some questions by Big George.
KEN HISSNER: When George waved those American flags in that Mexico City ring after winning the Olympic Gold medal he won a lot of patriotic fans.
ROY FOREMAN: I was only 13 years of age and living in the inner city 5th ward of Houston, TX. I didn’t have any idea about John Carlos and Tommy Green starting their protest. We were so pround of George winning. The neighborhood called him “Monkey” and didn’t even know him by his real name and we were just glad he wasn’t in trouble. President Lyndon Johnson was one of the founders of the Job Corp that George was part of. VP Herbert Humphrey came to our house and we met Johnson downtown. We saw all those cars coming down the street we thought someone died and it was a funeral. We were divided and eventually learned we are all Americans.
KEN HISSNER: George had his share of trainers. Was there one that stood out?
ROY FOREMAN: Dick Saddler.
KEN HISSNER: George was 38-0 and fighting “Smokin” Joe Frazier for his titles in Kingston, Jamaica. I understand Don King walked in the ring with Frazier and out of the ring with you after you won the title. What was your opinion of King in making that move?
ROY FOREMAN: I was in high school at 16 and they left me go to Jamaica because my brother was fighting for the heavyweight title. I arrived by plane and here comes Donald Ray King and when he knew I was George’s little brother he got a hold of me and said “here’s the brother of the next heavyweight champion!” George asked who was that guy (King) to me? I said I don’t know he said he’s Donald Ray King. King came into the dressing room and this big Jamaican had him pinned against the door and he yelled for help saying he was our brother. So we let him in and we never got rid of him. The story he went from Frazier to George was not true.
KEN HISSNER: In the fight with Ali in Zaire when the fight was postponed due to a cut George received in sparring he were actually prevented from leaving the country until you. Did he feel like a prisoner?
ROY FOREMAN: He wanted to go to Paris and heal but King wouldn’t let him. King knew George was not happy there and might not come back.
KEN HISSNER: George went from losing the title to Ali to fighting Ron Lyle almost two years later. They were two different kinds of opponents but both had to be two of the hardest fights in your career.
ROY FOREMAN: Lyle thought he could lay on the ropes and George would punch himself out. Gil Clancy and Howie Albert were now handling George’s training and taught him breathing exercises to help him.
KEN HISSNER: A turning point in George’s life happened when he lost to Jimmy Young in 1977. His life took a change for the better after that fight in the dressing room. Seems it a vision he saw or the Lord’s voice you heard that made you a CHANGED man.
ROY FOREMAN: It was amazing that it happened. We grew up in church but he went to look for girls more than anything else. Our mother made sure we went.
KEN HISSNER: When George signed to fight the WBA/IBF champion Michael Moorer at the age of 45 what were your thoughts before the fight and after winning the title?
ROY FOREMAN: Kind of funny but it went the way I thought it would go. He is younger and faster but around the 9th and 10th round it wold be George’s. I told a guy that and he bet 1k and won 100k. When George hit him with that left hook to the body I knew it was over. I knew Moorer when he was an amateur he was only 165 and probably never lost to a Russian. George gave him the most money (10 million) just to get a shot.
KEN HISSNER: In making his comeback in 1987 and retiring in 1997 what made him make those decisions?
ROY FOREMAN: We had the George Foreman Community Center to help the youths and George spent a lot of money on it. He had a 30 year-old guy running things. George started making speaking engagements to make money. I was in Jamaica working and I was told George was coming back and I thought the guy didn’t know what he was talking about. I came home and there he was training. He was 305 and got down to about 267. I thought the only young fighter out there was Lennox Lewis. Tyson was the heavyweight champion so we started fighting guys the size of Tyson.
KEN HISSNER: George had been in with some of the best fighters in the world like Ali, Frazier, Lyle, Norton, Moorer and Holyfield. Who sticks out as the best, the hardest fight and the hardest puncher?
ROY FOREMAN: Ron Lyle.
KEN HISSNER: Did it surprise you when George stopped George Chuvalo who was only stopped by Joe Frazier up until then.
ROY FOREMAN: I knew being as tough as Chuvalo was he would stand right in front of George. I noticed at the weigh-in Chuvalo seemed somewhat shaken to see just how big George was.
KEN HISSNER: George came close to fighting Larry Holmes who Ali nicknamed “Peanut Head” for a good reason. Though you came close to fighting him in 1999 I understand he promised your mother on her death bed that you would never fight again.
ROY FOREMAN: That wasn’t true about our mom. A guy gave George 1 million and Larry 400k but he was a scam artist. He made millions and skipped. When our mother died in December of 1998 and I knew George would never fight again.
KEN HISSNER: Joe Frazier still seemed to have a problem losing to George not once but twice. Did his son Marvis ever intervene so you and Joe could come to a friendship?
ROY FOREMAN: George loved Joe Frazier like a brother. We got to know his wife Florence, and daughters Jackie and Marvis along with some of the family in Nassau. They were great to us.
KEN HISSNER: There had been talk of George and Mike Tyson possibly fighting. How close did that ever come to becoming a reality?
ROY FOREMAN: We signed for that fight with Don King in Houston. What happened was Holyfield had a contract to fight Tyson. We had to sue Holyfield and Lou Duva and settled out of court.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.