George Foreman circa 1970. Photo from The Ring archive.
Olympic gold medalist, world heavyweight champion, and a lean, mean knockout machine. The great George Foreman turns 74 today.
George Edward Foreman was born on January 10, 1949 in Marshall, Texas. He grew up in Houston along with six siblings. A school dropout at 15 and a juvenile delinquent soon after that, George moved to California a few years later where he began training as a boxer, and soon enough he was on his way to the Olympic games in Mexico City, where he picked up a gold medal and impressed the world with his size and power.
He became a professional prizefighter soon after that, and began a 37-bout unbeaten run to earn a shot at the heavyweight title in the hands of Joe Frazier. In a demolishing performance, Foreman stopped his idol in two brutal rounds in January, 1973, and began a short but colorful title run that ended in one of the most iconic boxing matches of all time.
In October, 1974, Foreman faced Muhammad Ali in the “Rumble of the Jungle” fight, one of the most extraordinary sporting events of all time, with Ali famously regaining his belt in an eighth-round stoppage.
This loss would end up being the only time in which Foreman failed to hear the final bell in a career that would continue for a number of years that not even Foreman himself could have anticipated.
After facing some of the most fearsome punchers of his era during the next few years, Foreman finally retired in 1977 after dropping a decision to Jimmy Young. He found God and became a preacher, and in 1987 decided to give boxing one more try, beginning a second career that would take him to new heights.
Four years later, he would make another attempt at lifting a world title in a fight against unified titlist Evander Holyfield, losing by unanimous decision.
Undeterred, Foreman trudged on until his new opportunity finally came in 1994, when he faced Holyfield’s conqueror Michael Moorer with two heavyweight belts at stake. In a memorable performance, Foreman wore once again the same trunks he had worn in his defeat against Ali some 20 years earlier and exorcised his demons by stopping Moorer with a picture-perfect straight right hand in the 10th round and thus become the oldest man ever to lay claim to a heavyweight belt at the age of 46.
He retired in 1997 at the age of 48, with a record of 76 wins and 5 losses, with 68 knockouts. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003. After his retirement he continued his work as a Christian minister, became an on-air fight analyst for HBO, and he famously endorsed a line of very successful kitchen appliances that yielded him extraordinary earnings.
Foreman continues to reside in Houston, Texas.
Diego M. Morilla has written for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for HBO.com, ESPN.com and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for RingTV.com.