These days, most people know George Foreman as a boxing analyst and wildly successful pitchman, not the once-fearsome boxer that took on some of the sport’s best. Today is Foreman’s 70th birthday.
Foreman was born in Texas in 1949 and raised in Houston’s Fifth Ward section. In an autobiography, Foreman says that he lived a troubled childhood, taking up boxing while in the Job Corps in California. His prowess in the ring was such that he made the U.S. Boxing team, capturing a good medal in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Going pro in 1969, Foreman quickly showed his punching power, using his size to dominate opponents. Facing Joe Frazier in 1973, Foreman beat the favored, but smaller fighter, by way of knockout. The following year, Foreman took on Muhammad Ali for their classic “Rumble In The Jungle” bout. Although Foreman appeared he would vanquish Ali, he would lose his title after punching himself out.
In 1977, Foreman retired from the sport for the first time to embrace his faith and entered into ministry. He returned to boxing in 1987, claiming at his advanced age that healthy eating habits allowed him to still do well in the sport. In 1994, Foreman shocked the world by becoming the oldest heavyweight champion at 45 after defeating Michael Moorer for the IBF and WBA titles. Foreman lost the belts in 1996 to Shannon Briggs, retiring shortly after.
After his retirement, he became a popular pitchman for his George Foreman Grill product and helped revolutionize healthy eating lifestyles. He also became a respected boxing analyst for HBO before stepping down to pursue other business endeavors.