In January, Foreman captured the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association heavyweight championships with a dominant second-round TKO of defending champion Joe Frazier. Nine months later, he successfully defended his championship. A year after that, in 1990, he again won the title when he beat Larry Holmes in the 14th round of their match.
George Foreman was born on March 30, 1943 in rural Kentucky. He was raised by his mother after his father died when he was young. He had two sisters and one brother. When he was 11 years old, his family moved to Brooklyn, New York where his mother found work as a housekeeper. He spent most of his time training for sports competitions and working on cars with his friends.
At age 16, Foreman started boxing as a way to get attention from girls. His first fight was at age 17 and he won it by knockout. Two years later, he became the Heavyweight Champion of the World. During this time, he also worked at several jobs including dishwasher, garbage man, and construction worker. In 1965, at the age of 20, he fought his first world championship bout against Italian boxer Giulio Basilio. Although he lost this fight, it launched his career as a contender in the heavyweight division. After losing twice more, both times to Ali, Foreman retired from fighting in 1967.
With a height of 6 feet 3 1/2 inches and a weight of 218 pounds, Foreman was a terrifying ring presence who brutalized opponents with his sheer strength. He won his first 37 professional fights before facing heavyweight champion "Smokin'" Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica, on January 22, 1973.
During that fight, which is considered by many to be the best matchup of all time, Frazier dominated early on, landing powerful hooks and uppercuts that sent Foreman back against the wall over and over again. But in the second round, something changed in Frazier; he began to take things too far, going after Foreman's eyes with repeated punches, and the challenger responded by crushing Frazier with a series of devastating body blows. An enraged Joe Frazier ended up being counted out, giving George Foreman his first title shot.
Foreman took the title from Frazier in an epic bout later that year in Kinshasa, Zaire. Once again, Frazier had no answer for his massive opponent's power, as Foreman brutally pummeled him with left hands until he fell face-first to the mat. The referee stopped the fight at 2:59 of the fifth round, giving Foreman the victory and making him only the third man (after Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano) to win titles in four different divisions (heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, and welterweight).
Foreman is a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Foreman is ranked as the ninth greatest heavyweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization. The Ring magazine rated him one of the top 25 boxers of the last 80 years in 2002.
Depending on your birth year, the name George Foreman might conjure up a variety of ideas. Some may remember George for the rest of their lives as one of the greatest boxers of all time. A champion who, at the age of 24, TKO'd an unbeaten Smokin' Joe Frazier to become the World Heavyweight Champion.
In March, Foreman defended his championship against challenger Ken Norton, but he was defeated by Ali, who had been permitted to return to boxing after serving a three-year ban for refusing to accept the draft for military duty. Ali won by TKO in the eighth round.
Foreman's career was never the same after this defeat. He retired after losing his next fight to Joe Frazier.
Here is how their careers compared:
George Foreman vs. Ken Norton
Date: March 31, 1973
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Prizes: The champion will be determined by a match between George Foreman and Ken Norton for Norton's World Heavyweight Championship.
Announcers: Marty D'Amato and Don Dunphy
Commentators: Richard Dunn and Ahmad Khan
Net Payout: $1 million ($10 million in 2019 dollars)
Winner: Muhammad Ali
After this loss, no one else would dare challenge Ali for his title. He defended it seven more times before retiring in 1981.
George Foreman, full name George Edward Foreman, was born in Marshall, Texas, on January 10, 1949. He used to be a world heavyweight champion (1973-74, 1994-95). Foreman had 33 professional boxing matches, winning all of them by knockout or submission.
He is one of only eight boxers in history to win the championship with a knockout percentage of at least 80%. The others are Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Harry Wills, Benny Leonard, and Rocky Marciano.
During his first two championships, from 1973 to 1974, and again in 1994, he came back from being down against his opponents twice to win by unanimous decision. In 1975, he fought no more than three rounds in any contest. And in 1995, he nearly died after suffering heart damage during a fight with Michael Moorer. However, Foreman recovered and went on to have more successful title defenses in 1996 and 1997 before retiring after his fifth championship bout in 1998. He returned in 2004 at the age of 44 to defeat Chris Byrd for the second time in his career. This time around, he finished off his comeback bid with a third-round TKO victory over former champion Roy Jones Jr..
After retirement, Foreman became a celebrity chef and restaurateur.