I recently sat down with Former heavyweight champion, George Foreman, at his 40-acre property in the outskirts of Houston, Texas. The interview is for the seventh episode of In Depth. He calls winning the gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics the fondest memory in his boxing career. Foreman says growing up poor in the 5th ward of Houston is what drove his anger and vicious nature in the early part of his career while fighting names like Ken Norton and Joe Frazier. He says he is at peace with losing the heavyweight title to Muhammad Ali and describes his close relationship with Ali now. Foreman says he returned to boxing after a ten year break to make money for his struggling youth center. The decision resulted in him becoming the oldest heavyweight champion in history at age 45. We also get a rare look at Foreman's collection of more than 50 cars including Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maybachs and classic Chevys.
I asked Foreman to compare himself to undefeated champion, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.: "Floyd Mayweather can really box. He's skillful. All I had was just one punch, and if I could hit you with it, I could take you out." When asked about the apparent decline of Manny Pacquiao's career, Foreman adds: "We all think we've got one more boxing match in us, and that, probably, will be the downfall of Floyd Mayweather, George Foreman, Manny Pacquiao. We'll overstay our welcome. And I think it's time, maybe for both to try something else."
When asked about his reputation in and out of the ring, Foreman confesses: "When I was in the ring, you really saw the best of me. Outside the ring, I was really some terrible fellow." Referencing Foreman's unrelenting anger in the ring, I asked, "You wanted to like kill Ken Norton in your fight with him, and then, when that didn't happen, you wanted to kill Muhammad Ali in your fight with him...Why? Foreman explains, "It wasn't about Ken Norton or Muhammad Ali. It was like anyone I had met in the ring. I said, "I'm going to kill one of these guys then they'll know that I'm the best."
I asked Foreman to elaborate on the controversy surrounding his 1974 title match with Ali: "I had a lot of complaints after that boxing match...The ropes were too loose. The referee counted too fast, and I had something in my water." But years later, Foreman has learned to accept the outcome: "I have lots of excuses, but it still doesn't bring it back and make it a win. I've learned to live with that."
Foreman recounts the harrowing experience of secretly flying to the West Indies to regain custody of two of his children: "I woke up one day and I came home, and all my kids were gone... I flew to Barbados...and then rented a private plane for St. Lucia." I asked about the tense moments that followed once Foreman reunited with his children: "And was there concern at that time?...You thought they were going to kill you. Foreman: "I said, 'To get my kids, you're going to have to kill me.' And I hear someone say, 'Kill him then.'"
Foreman has a massive car collection and when asked how many cars he owns, he jokes, "I really don't know because I've taken to hiding them from my wife, and some are in different places." "More than fifty?" Foreman: "Yeah, more than fifty." Foreman's third eldest son, George IV, gives me a firsthand look inside of the garage that houses the former champ's collection, and they both take a ride in Big George's luxurious Maybach.
George Foreman describes the challenges of growing up poor in the Fifth Ward neighborhood of Houston, TX.
George Foreman discusses his controversial loss to Muhammed Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle and how he views it now.
George Foreman describes the moment he was "born again" after he lost the fight to Jimmy Young
George Foreman explains why he needed to make money so badly when he made his comeback
George Foreman talks about his youth center and why he's so proud of it
George Foreman discusses his second career as a pitchman and the impressive fortune he made after boxing.
George Foreman describes his home and why his animals were part of the reason he built it
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more