Birth of George Foreman
January 10, 1949
"That’s my gift. I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it. If you can overcome that, fights are easy."
On this day, sixty-five years ago, a poor black woman gave birth to a child. Looking down at her baby, the mother uttered the first words the infant would ever hear: “he big.”
Thus “Big” George Foreman entered the world. Though large for a baby, he would grow up to be a massive man, towering over his opponents by a head or more. That size would aid him in his rise to heavyweight glory, first as an Olympic gold medalist, then as a two-time world heavyweight champion.
Foreman’s career is among the most distinguished in boxing’s history, boasting eighty-one fights, four The Ring Fights of the Year, two The Ring Fighter of the Year awards and two successful title campaigns separated by a ten-year retirement. He is rated by most as one of the greatest punches in history. He would be ordained as a Baptist preacher, set the record for oldest heavyweight champion (a record that still stands today), become one of the wealthiest fighters in history thanks to his George Foreman grill (which he himself helped to invent) and serve as a popular boxing analyst for HBO. He is among the most interesting and accomplished men in a sport full of fascinating characters.
George Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas and grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward. Like most great fighters, Foreman had humble origins. “When I was a kid in Houston,” he would later recall in his characteristic humor, “we were so poor we couldn’t afford the last two letter, so we called ourselves po’.” Times were hard for the Foreman family, a veritable clan of seven children, not all from the same man. George himself was a Foreman by virtue of love, not by blood. Food was often scarce, but that didn’t stop him from growing big, and wouldn’t stop him from dreaming big, either…