Recently I ventured to the Penn Cinema in Lititz, PA, to view the private screening by AFFIRM FILMS, a Sony company presenting “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight of the World”. Each guest was given a gift bag as we entered.
The film started with Big George Foreman introducing the film. Then it went onto showing his poverty stricken family moving into a rundown abandoned house where his mother was a God fearing woman.
In school Foreman sat at the outdoor lunch table the only one with no food to eat. He was mocked by a kid eating chicken taking a piece and asked Foreman if he wanted it and threw it on the ground. Foreman walked over and knocked him down.
Foreman at around age sixteen decided to join the Job Corps as a way out of poverty and crime. When he arrived at the camp he met up with a hustler who would later become his “financial advisor”.
To Foreman’s surprise while sitting on his bed he opened a shoe box with brand new Converse sneakers. When he woke in the morning they were gone. He ventured to the cafeteria spotting the thief wearing his sneakers. He chased him for blocks into a dormitory as the thief was trying to escape through a window Foreman grabbed him and hung him out the window by his feet taking the sneakers off. Then camp director Doc played by Forest Whitaker showed up stopping him.
Doc took Foreman by car saying it’s either jail or home and Foreman didn’t want to go home disappointing his mother. Doc asked him if he knew how to fight in which he said “street fights”. So he took him to a boxing gym and put him in the ring where a more experience boxer who boxed his ears off as Foreman threw wild punches stomping around the ring. Doc would then school him into how to cut off the ring by improving his footwork.
Not in the film in December of 1996 Doc put Foreman into a Job Corps amateur show where he suffered his first fight. Then in 1997 he would win tournaments in Oakland and San Francisco that he would win. Then to the National Golden Gloves that he lost in the finals. In early 1968 he won the National AAU tournament. After several bouts in Germany he was qualified for the Olympic Trials and Box-Offs that he won. In October he won his first three bouts over opponents from Poland, Romania and Italy. The film would pick up showing Foreman meeting the big favorite Lithuanian Jonas Cepulis who was dishing out a beating to Foreman who finally caught him with an uppercut and down he went with Foreman winning the Olympic Gold Meda in October of 1968.
In the ring someone from Foreman’s corner handed him a small American flag that Foreman walked around the ring with. Upon returning home his friends turned their back on him for doing this.
Foreman was brought to a gym in Oakland turning him pro by Doc so that former light heavyweight champion Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore and Dick Sadler to train him.
Foreman would go onto win his first 37 bouts with his eye on unbeaten champion “Smokin” Joe Frazier. In his 28th fight he had his first major the vacant Pan American title. The film picked up in January of 1973 where he would finally get his shot at the world title against Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica. In the second round Foreman had Frazier down several times when the bout was stopped awarding Foreman his world title. Promoter Don King entered the ring with Frazier and left with Foreman.
Foreman was married and started cheating on his wife after having a child which ended in divorce. He would go to Zaire, Africa, where he met Muhammad Ali whom the people idolized. Foreman had Ali against the ropes for the most part where he was introduced to the “rope-a-dope” invented by Ali taking many punches on his arms which by the eighth round had Foreman all punched out. Ali would drop him and become the first 3-time heavyweight champ.
Foreman in March of 1977 would fight another Philadelphia fighter named Jimmy Young, 20-5-2, who gave him a boxing lesson dropping Foreman in the final round winning a decision. Foreman went out of his mind in the dressing room before his trainers got him on the dressing table where he had a vision of Jesus Christ. He would be baptized and start training to become a pastor.
Foreman retired from boxing taking what money he had made opening up the George Foreman Youth and Community Center and buying an empty church building where he would become the pastor. He would eventually introduce the “George Foreman Grill”where he made a good amount of money to keep up the expenses of both ventures.
The person Foreman met in the Job Corps years before who became his financial advisor went through all but a small amount of his money with the threat of the center being closed. Against his second wives wishes he decided to make a comeback to pay for everything ina way he only could do by returning to the ring to save the center though in his 40’s.
Four years and twenty-six fights later Foreman got a chance at the world title losing to Evander Holyfield, 25-0, by decision. Skip ahead three years later he upset world champion Michael Moorer, 35-0, while well behind on points scoring a knockout at age 45 to regain the world title. Three years and four fights later he would retire from boxing with a 76-5 record and 68 knockouts.
This movie was about REDEMPTION, FORGIVENESS, NEW BEGINNINGS, TRUSTING GOD and PERSEVERANCE. You had to walk away from this film with all of these feelings. The Film was directed by George Tillman, Jr. who also wrote along with Frank Baldwin and Dan Gordon. Starring were Khris Davis playing Foreman and Forest Whitaker, Sonja Sohn and John Magaro.