Boxing

The ReCap by Rachele Lena: 12.12.18 by HWTP Sports Talk

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This week we were joined by The Japan Times’ Ed Odeven to discuss the life and legacy of George Foreman. Born on January 10, 1949, George has had a long boxing career winning 76 of his 81 total fights.  

Odeven opens the conversation discussing Foreman’s childhood in Marshall, Texas. Odeven claims, “in his youth he was a trouble maker. He was in the streets, he was bullying people, he was getting in fights.”  He describes Foreman as growing up in a rough neighborhood and cites this as a possible reason for his behavior in his childhood. 

Despite his rough beginnings, Foreman quickly changed his ways and turned his life around. Odeven claims that, “he decided to join the Job Corps after seeing a commercial with Jim Brown”. After seeing this commercial, Foreman left Texas and went to northern California. Odeven explains that, “he began to study carpentry and construction skills” and that “there was discipline in his life and that guided him in the right direction”.  

Carpentry is not the path that Foreman took in life, despite his time in the Job Corps. Ed Odeven explains that, “a man named Doc Broadus convinced him to try boxing.”  After moving to Oregon for another Job Corps program, Foreman began boxing and training. Having won a few amateur events, Foreman was invited to the U.S. Olympic team for Mexico City. Odeven tells us that, “Doc Broadus, who was the mentor in Mexico City, coached [Foreman] throughout his time there.” 

Foreman can be described as a “potent” puncher and has won 68 matches through knock-outs, but was this through training or was he born with it? Odeven explains that, “Foreman thought that it was God-given ability, just the strength, force and inertia”. He also explains that Foreman, “worked on [his punches and form] by watching boxing and training”. When asked about Foreman’s inspiration, Odeven claims that, “he never forgot where he came from and throughout his career he thought he had something to prove.” 

George Foreman and Muhammed Ali developed a strong relationship throughout their boxing careers. When asked about their history, Odeven describes that, “they were not friends in the lead up to and during “The Rumble in the Jungle,” but that this all changed when, “Foreman became a preacher after his religious conversion and began to calm down.”  Odeven claims that, “periodically, Ali began to call [Foreman] and in the 80’s and 90’s they got closer and closer, especially once Ali’s health began to deteriorate quite a bit”. 

Ed Odeven explains the “cell phone in a briefcase” story, recalling, “Foreman was training in Miami and Ali shows up at the hotel that he was staying at. They were doing a T.V. promotional interview for Foreman and the producers did not want Ali around because he was loud and they wanted all of the soundbites centered around Foreman. Later that day, Ali was speaking to Foreman and claimed, “This is what you can get if you become Heavy-Weight Champion of the World” and opens his briefcase to display a very primitive mobile phone.” Ed Odeven then explains that once Foreman became heavy-weight champion, he bought a mobile phone for himself.  

When discussing Foreman’s current life, Odeven explains that Foreman “hits the bag a bit, but he doesn’t seem to be sparring”. While he has a youth center in Texas, he is not a “full time couch, but he does offer pointers every once in a while”.   

A fan wrote in to ask Ed Odeven, “Did you ask George why he named all of his kids George Foreman.”  Odeven responded that, “[he] did not ask him that, but has heard various answers to that question.”  A few of the reasons Odeven has heard is, “you get hit in the head as a boxer and you don’t have to remember other names, as well as, George is their identity but they all have middle names.”  A listener called in named Mo joined the conversation to ask, “When Odeven said George was angry after the fight with Ali and later said Ali was the better fighter that day, what was Foreman’s anger directed at about that fight?”  Mo asked, “was part of the anger that Ali did not get disqualified? [Ali] knew if he did not hang over the ropes, the fight against George was essentially over and his actions were completely illegal.”  

In response, Odeven claims that he has not heard anything regarding this question from Foreman himself, but he has heard other people, boxing observers and analysts say that the “officiating did not take that into account though and were ineffective in stopping [Ali’s] actions.”  Odeven explains that anger grew from “The taunting that Ali did in the lead up to the fight,” and that “there was a jealousy between Foreman and Ali because Foreman felt everyone was against him.”

o to www.japantimes.co.jp to read more articles from Ed Odeven regarding George Foreman’s boxing career.

The ReCap by Laina Stebbins: 4.2.18 Podcast by HWTP Sports Talk

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David is joined by legendary heavyweight boxing champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield and Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame president Ray McCline. Their wide-ranging talk comes in advance of the ACBHOF’s second annual Hall of Fame induction class weekend, June 1-3.

In addition to being among those honored in the 2018 induction class, Holyfield will be bringing his “Real Deal” boxing promotion to the weekend of events with a boxing match on Saturday, June 2.

Evander the Overcomer

Becoming “The Real Deal” was never a given for Holyfield, and he will be the first to admit it. He speaks frankly with David and McCline about years of determination through struggles and adversity, including being raised by parents who did not have education and not meeting his father until he was 21 years old.

Despite his family’s hardships, Holyfield got most of his motivation early on from his mother and siblings. “Don’t let people outwork you,” his mother would tell him. She would push him to never lose his work ethic, and his siblings would support his efforts and keep him out of trouble.

“I wasn’t no quitter,” Holyfield tells David. “I had a good support system…I was fortunate enough at a young age to have people who cared about me and gave me structure.”

Holyfield recalls his first time losing a boxing match as a defining moment for him. “I thought I was gonna be like Muhammad Ali,” he remembers telling his coach through tears.

His coach responded: “You didn’t lose. You only lose when you quit.’”

This philosophy became a key concept that would guide Holyfield’s professional career. “As long as you keep working toward the goal, you get closer to it,” Holyfield says. “…You gotta do your best. If you don’t quit, you eventually win.”

The tenacity and determination Holyfield developed would sustain his record-breaking 27-year career, making him able to push through obstacle after obstacle to eventually become the first and only four-time heavyweight champion of the world. He had broken a record previously set by boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who had been the world’s three-time heavyweight champion.

“Records are meant to be broken,” Holyfield says.

Helping a younger generation of boxers

Holyfield enjoyed a long professional career that spanned from 1984 to 2011. He officially retired from boxing in 2014.

Now a boxer promoter, he believes he can help young fighters aspire to greatness.

“I didn’t want to be a coach,” Holyfield tells David. Coaches can only help a small number of people, in his view, whereas promoters can talk to many more fighters about “what it takes to be a champion” and be able to provide them with opportunities like the ones Holyfield himself was once given.

Holyfield says he wants to “tell the fighters who don’t have great education, who grew up poor…that you can overcome things.”

In this way, Holyfield sees his promoter role as a way of giving back to the boxing community, and especially to the younger generation. Holyfield says he encourages young kids to avoid surrounding themselves with people who don’t have their best interests in mind.

“You have to be very appreciative and strong-minded because there are a lot of people who don’t want you to succeed,” he says.

McCline jumps in with an observation about how “natural” it is for Holyfield to be giving back to the young fighters who are pursuing a career in boxing, since he had so many good values seeded into him by his mother at a young age – like choosing the right team around you and knowing to “walk away from things that don’t align with your character."

“You realize what thrust him to be great,” McCline says.

Atlantic City: A boxing “Mecca”

To many, New Jersey’s Atlantic City is known as a special place for professional boxing.

“Atlantic City and boxing are synonymous,” McCline says. By holding his annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in the city, he hopes to keep it on the map in the professional boxing world for years to come.

Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Evander Holyfield, who were both included in the ACBHOF’s first class of inductees last year, are among the boxing legends who McCline says “made Atlantic City...a boxing Mecca that was known around the world.”

“It’s an honor to have that type of boxing royalty part of this,” he tells David.

Holyfield fought in Atlantic City 11 times throughout his professional career and won all but one of those fights. Most of those matches took place in Boardwalk Hall, the very place McCline will be holding his organization’s second annual Hall of Fame weekend.

Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, formerly known as the Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall, served as the venue for his fights against Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Pinklon Thomas in the 80s; against Seamus McDonagh, George Foreman, Alex Stewart, and Ray Mercer in the 90s; and against Hasim Rahman and Chris Byrd in the early 2000s.

McCline says it feels “surreal” to have Holyfield returning to this very building – which he had watched the boxer fill to the rafters many years ago – to work with McCline’s organization and participate in its 2018 Hall of Fame induction weekend.

Hall of Fame weekend 2018

McCline firmly believes in boxing’s “incredible” ability to bring people together, which he says can be no better demonstrated by the ACBHOF’s annual Hall of Fame induction weekend, June 1-3. By gathering boxing fans, trainers, and legends themselves in Atlantic City and showcasing individual stories and careers, McCline says the ACBHOF can properly celebrate the history of the sport and look toward the future while giving proper respect to the past.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, June 1 with a meet-and-greet and VIP reception in the Clarence hotel, followed by a live pro boxing show at the hotel’s Celebrity Theater.

Saturday, June 2 (day two) begins with the “Fight Fan experience” at the Conference Center with exhibits, guest fighters, memorabilia and more.

That evening, Evander Holyfield will return to Boardwalk Hall for his “Real Deal” boxing match showcase.

ACBHOF will then hold its second annual induction ceremony on Sunday, June 3. “We look forward to honoring the greats,” McCline said. “We make sure they are remembered and shown homage to in the right way.”

There will be a formal dinner and presentation, which McCline likens to “the Academy Awards of boxing.”

“We’re really excited about the induction class, but really just the itinerary for the whole weekend,” McCline said.

Visit the ACBHOF’s website for the full 2018 weekend itinerary and more details. Tickets to the weekend’s events can be purchased here. More information about Holyfield’s Real Deal boxing promotion can be found here.