I plan to go to the screening of the “Big George Foreman” movie on March 8th at Lititz, Pennsylvania, at the Penn Cinema.
Foreman was and is a true patriot and a minister today. I can still remember when he won the heavyweight title walking around the ring holding up small American flags while others like John Carlos who were refusing to acknowledge the American anthem being played with their hands raised in black gloves in defiance.
Foreman’s amateur record is interesting for instance he defeated Italy’s Giorgio Bambini in the semi-finals of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Bambini oddly enough went 15-0 as a pro and retired.
In the Olympics Foreman defeated Poland’s Lucjan Trela by decision and stopped Romania’s Ione Alexe. In the semi-final he knocked out previously mentioned Bambini in the second round. Then in the championship round he stopped Jonas Cepulis of Lithuania in the second round to win the Gold Medal!
Foreman would turn pro in June of 1969 when he defeated Argentina’s Gregorio “Goyo” Peralta, 77-5-8, at New York’s Madison Square Garden improving his record to 16-0.
Foreman would be the second and last fighter to stop durable George Chuvalo, 59-15-2 of Canada in three rounds at MSG. In May of 1961 he had a rematch with Peralta he stopped him for the vacant Pan American title in ten rounds.
Foreman was 37-0 when he had his first opportunity at the heavyweight title and knocked champion “Smokin” Joe Frazier, 29-0, out in Kingston, Jamaica, in January of 1973. He scored three knockouts including Ken Norton, 30-2, in two rounds.
Seven months later in October of 1974 it all came to an end when Foreman defended his title against former 2-time world champion Muhammad Ali, 44-2, called “Rumble in the Jungle” with Foreman coming in with a 40-0 record and a heavy favorite.
Ali introduced his “rope-a-dope” having Foreman beat on him against the ropes for seven rounds mostly on Ali’s arms. In the eighth round exhausted Foreman was stopped by Ali losing his title.
Next in January of 1976 in a “war” Foreman knocked out Ron Lyle, 31-3-1, in five rounds and again he stopped Frazier. He would be upset by Philly’s Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico in March of 1977. While he was flat on the table in his dressing room he had a vision of Jesus Christ and his entire life changed.
Almost to the day ten years later Foreman came back posting eighteen straight stoppages before defeating Everett Martin, 17-7-1. Then destroy Gerry Cooney, 28-2, in two rounds. Four more knockouts and then meet champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 25-0, losing a decision in April of 1991.
Three wins later Foreman was defeated by Tommy “The Duke” Morrison, 36-1, for the vacant WBO title. Though coming off a loss and behind on points at the age of 45 he won the title knocking out Michael “Double M” Moorer, 35-0, in ten rounds in November of 1994.
In his first defense Foreman seemed fortunate to get a majority decision over Germany’s Axel Schulz, 21-1-1, in April of 1995. He would win back to back decisions over Crawford Grimsley, 20-0, and Lou Savarese, 36-0. In his final fight he lost a disputed decision to Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, 29-1, in November of 1991. His final record was 76-5 with 68 by stoppage which is an outstanding stoppage ratio. He was inducted into the IBHOF. Foreman would go onto make more money selling the George Foreman Grill!