Fox Sports Net's Emmy-nominated documentary series, BEYOND THE GLORY, continues with a new episode featuring boxing legend George Foreman. In this episode, BTG tells the story of how this poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks grew up to become one of boxing's most legendary fighters, and twice earned the highest honor of the sport, the heavyweight championship. BTG: George Foreman airs on Sun, May 2 at 8:00 PM local.
George Foreman grew up in Marshall, Texas, in extremely poor living conditions. He was bigger and tougher than most kids, and learned to fight at an early age. Regulars to an area known as "bloody fifth," Foreman's buddies would challenge him to knock out local boys and steal their wallets to pay for alcohol when the supply had run out. And he did it. By the ninth grade, he had dropped out of school. It was then, when all hope seemed gone, that Foreman saw Johnny Unitas on a public service announcement asking for young men to join the job corps. Inspired, Foreman joined.
Leaving Marshall, Foreman was opened up to a new world. Although he still picked fights with whomever he could, Foreman was happy earning money and leaving his life of stealing behind. Transferred to a job corps center in California, Foreman was introduced to his mentor, boxing coach, "Doc" Broadus.
Six months into training under Broadus, Foreman was already racing through the Golden Gloves and onto the Olympic trials. At age 18, he earned a spot in the Olympics. He took home the Gold Medal that year, and although victory was sweet, controversy clouded his win. But that didn't stop him.
Before long, Foreman turned pro and began obliterating his opponents one-by-one. He had 37 wins, including 34 knockouts and was closing in fast on the title. Keeping his strength and motivation focused on one thing, Foreman took on heavyweight champ Joe Frazier and knocked him out in two rounds, earning the title of heavyweight champion of the world.
But his success was short-lived. The next year, Foreman went up against Muhammad Ali and lost. Devastated, Foreman went into a self-imposed exile. When he returned, he attempted to reclaim his pride, but he couldn't regain it. Not in the public's eyes and not in his own.
In 1977, Foreman retired from boxing. He turned to religion and became a new man. He built a small church and congregation and opened a youth and community center. He was happy. But something was still missing. In 1987, he announced the unimaginable: at age 38, he was coming out of retirement. Although some scoffed at the attempt, most were impressed with his new lease on life. Foreman quickly became a force to be reckoned with. He won 24 consecutive fights and in 1991, earned a title fight against Evander Holyfield, but ultimately lost.
In 1995, Foreman found what he had been looking for, a chance to redeem himself and win back his title. In the tenth round of the championship fight, Foreman knocked out his opponent Michael Moorer and reclaimed his belt. In 1997, Foreman retired for a second time, but it wasn't for good. This year, after serving as an analyst for HBO boxing, Foreman announced that he will come out of retirement once more to prove that age is irrelevant and that he can again become the heavyweight champion. "You can start from the bottom in this country and make whatever you want of your life. If you can dream anything, you can do it"
Those interviewed in addition to George Foreman include: daughter Georgetta Foreman-Rubin, daughter Freeda Foreman, son George Foreman III, sister Mary Dumas, HBO Boxing's Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley, publicist Bill Caplan and former trainer Charles "Doc" Broadus.
More excerpts from the documentary:
George Foreman on his father – "He'd always grab me, put his hand on my head and say, 'that's the heavyweight champion of the world.' I didn't have any idea of what the heavyweight champion was or who he was in those days, but it sure did make me feel good."
On his first trainer "Doc" Broadus – "He looked me up and said, 'well you're big enough and you're ugly enough. Come on down to the gym. That was "Doc" Broadus."
On Joe Frazier – "I was afraid of Joe Frazier. For the first time, entering into a ring, I was afraid of a guy."
Jim Lampley on Foreman – "The idea that a 35-year-old man could knock out a 26-year-old man was outlandish. It happened – the idea that this long magical journey of George could somehow have led back to the heavyweight championship of the world. It happened."
Larry Merchant on Foreman winning the title for the second time – "What George did was really unprecedented in boxing history. It made him one of those special dramatic figures who will always stand out."