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.