George Edward Foreman was born to JD and Nancy Foreman on January 10, 1949, in the town of Marshall, Texas. An impoverished youth, Foreman often bullied younger children and didn’t like getting up early for school. Foreman became a mugger and brawler on the hard streets of Houston`s 5th ward by age 15.
Luckily, he was saved by Lyndon Johnson`s Job Corps program, which helped troubled kids. Foreman traveled to California, where he met Job Corps counselor and boxing coach Doc Broaddus, who encouraged Foreman to become a fighter. Once he began to train at the gym, Foreman rapidly established an impressive amateur record.
In 1969, Foreman turned professional. Within two years, Foreman was ranked the No. 1 challenger by the WBA and WBC; by 1972, Foreman`s impressive record was 37 wins (most by knockout) and no losses. Foreman got his shot at the world heavyweight championship when he was scheduled to fight Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica, on January 22, 1973. Frazier was the favorite going into the bout, but Foreman knocked him out in the second round. An unprecedented TV audience watched Foreman become the champ — the fight was HBO Boxing`s first-ever broadcast.
Foreman successfully defended his title twice. He beat Puerto Rican heavyweight champion Jose Roman in 50 seconds, the shortest heavyweight championship match; Foreman also beat Ken Norton (who had just beaten Muhammad Ali) in a mere two rounds. But when Foreman faced off against Ali himself in the summer of 1974, he went down.
After taking 1975 off, Foreman returned to boxing, winning a number of fights before losing by decision to Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico in 1977. It was in his dressing room after the fight that Foreman had a religious experience; he then gave up boxing and became a born-again Christian. He was ordained a minister and began preaching in his hometown of Marshall, Texas. In 1984, he founded the George Foreman Youth and Community Center, a non-denominational place for kids who need direction like he once did.
In 1987, Foreman decided to return to boxing in order to support the George Foreman Center. Foreman proved his detractors wrong when he kept winning fights into his 40s; in 1991 he had a shot at the title, but lost to champ Evander Holyfield by decision.
In 1994, Foreman took on the new champ Michael Moorer, and knocked him out in the 10th round; Foreman became, at 44, the oldest fighter ever to win the heavyweight crown, as well as the fighter with the most time between one world championship and the next. Foreman gave away his titles in 1995, after defending them against Axel Schultz and refusing a rematch.
By the time Foreman retired from boxing (again) in 1999, he was well on his way to a second career as a businessman. Since the early 1990s, Foreman had discovered his talent for salesmanship, and by the end of the decade, he was making millions off of infomercials marketing the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine which has sold over 100 million units to date.
In 2007, Foreman joined ABC’s reality show, “American Inventor,” as one of the four celebrity judges. Seen as one of the more forgiving judges, when asked what he’s invented (as the Lean Mean Grilling Machine is not his invention) he replied, “I reinvented myself.” Also, his 2007 book, “God in my Corner,” details his journey from the inner city thug life to leading his congregation as a minister.
When not promoting Meineke mufflers or selling grills, Foreman tends to his ministry and charitable work. He also spends time with his family on his ranch in Marshall.