Saturday, January 10, 2015

THE WISDOM OF … George Foreman

Today marks the 66th birthday of Big George Foreman!!

Posting some wisdom he dropped on Esquire magazine!

Happy Birthday Champ!! Enjoy!!

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I dread handshakes. I've got some problems with my hands, and everywhere I go, people want to impress me with their grip. To make it worse, now women are coming up with that firm shake. So I'll say, "Gimme five!" If a boy wants a handshake, I'll just give him a hug.

I grew up in the Fifth Ward of Houston -- the Bloody Fifth, we called it. Every weekend someone got killed.

We couldn't afford a TV. But my Aunt Leola let me watch hers. I'd watch The Donna Reed Show and Leave It to Beaver and wonder what it would be like to have my own bed. Shutting off a reading lamp next to your bed seemed like the height of luxury.

When there was no lunch to take to school, I blew up a brown paper sack to make it look full.
Sometimes my older brothers and sisters would tease me, call me Mo-head. I didn't know why. Sometimes they'd say, "You're not really our brother." That would drive me crazy. Even before I outgrew them, they learned that the teasing wasn't worth the consequences.

I left school in eighth grade, ninth grade -- something like that.

In the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists on the victory stand, and that's all people were talking about. My gold medal didn't have much luster when I went home to Houston, but it sure had luster to me. I wore that thing everywhere I went. Those were the days of Nehru jackets and medallions, so it just fit in. I wore it so much that after a while, some of the gold started to rub off. A jeweler made it look pretty again, and I didn't want any more gold to rub off, so I put it in a safe-deposit box. That's where it stayed for years. In the eighties, I moved to Marshall, Texas. I decided to put that medal in the historical society so the kids could see it and be inspired. The message was, you could come out of this small town and do big things. I want all the children in the world to feel like that medal is as much theirs as it is my children's.

When I won the title against Joe Frazier, it was everything I ever worked for.

You don't know what it is to be heavyweight champ of the world until you become the heavyweight champ of the world. It's tough. You hear, "So-and-so became champ and he had five girls and five Cadillacs." So you get five Cadillacs and five girls just because so-and-so had it. It doesn't originate from you. It's not desire or physical urgency. It's all ignorance.

Most of us are just kids.

Sandy Saddler, the great featherweight champion, gave me some advice after I won the title. I said, "Man, this sex thing. How did you deal with this sex thing?" He said, "George, it's real easy when you're married and faithful to one woman. Because when you're in the mood, she's in the mood. It gets out of hand when you start messing with two or three people. It becomes unmanageable. Even you become unmanageable. Be faithful to one." I just didn't grasp it at the time.

I remember how people looked at me as I left the United States for Zaire. "Man, that's George Foreman, going to fight Muhammad Ali." Then they'd drop their heads. Fear. Nobody would give me a straight-on look. It was a funny kind of admiration. There were people too scared to even ask for an autograph.

The day after I lost to Ali, people came by and put a hand on my shoulder and said, "It's okay, George. You'll have another chance." That was pity. From being feared to being pitied. Brother, that's a long fall.

Imagine losing everything you think matters to you in ten seconds.

I'll tell you how low a man can go. There was a B.B. King song that went, "Nobody loves me but my mother/And she could be jivin', too."

Evil lurks where disappointment lodges.

As an adult, I found out that my dad, J.D. Foreman, was not my biological dad. My mom and J.D. had broken up for a time, and that's when I was conceived. That's why my brothers and sisters called me Mo-head. What they were really saying was Moorehead. My biological dad was named Leroy Moorehead.

All my sons are named George Foreman. They all know where they came from.

Changing your nature is the hardest thing to do. But I discovered that you can be who you choose to be.

Winning the title for a second time from Michael Moorer was a special moment. But it was nothing beyond that. A week later, people were heaping praises on me, and it was hard because you've gotta act like it's still important. But it was already over.

Preaching is the most original thing I've ever done. There's nothing familiar about it. You have to be brave.

Losing your mother is the most mysterious lostness. You know how the astronauts walk in space, attached to the spacecraft by a line? The moment you find out your mother's died, you feel like someone's slipped the line off the craft. You're just floating away. Floating... floating... I remember my daughter called and said, "Don't you worry. I'm on my way." All the sudden that line snagged and I was anchored again.

The first thing that came into my mind when I signed the grill contract for $137.5 million was, I'm going to make my sisters millionaires. After all these years, they're finally going to be millionaires. And they did become millionaires -- with the same old troubles as everybody else.

I love Joe Frazier. He's been an original from day one. A few years back, Joe, Muhammad, and I did a video in England. After the taping, we were at a charity dinner with some of the royal family. They were serving lamb chops with mint jelly -- beautiful food. The waiter asked, "Can I get you anything else?" And Joe said, "I want some more green jelly." The waiter said, "Do you mean mint sauce?" And Joe said, "Same thing." And I thought, Some people put on a face for you and a face for someone else. But this man has only one face. "Same thing." If you understood what he said, why did you need to correct him?

Joe told me why he had that hate for Ali. Muhammad was calling him an Uncle Tom. Kids would go to school and taunt his children, and they'd come home and his wife would hear about it. What bothered Joe was that every morning he'd get up really early, when it was dark, to get the roadwork in. He always wore this big hood over his head when he ran. And he said, "Man, I don't want my wife thinking I'm peeping into people's windows." The point is, at the time, Joe didn't get what an Uncle Tom was. He hated Muhammad because he thought Ali was calling him a Peepin' Tom. If someone would have explained to Joe what an Uncle Tom was, he might not have ever hated Ali.

Can't retire from exercising.

After I lost to Ali in Zaire, I told everybody that I was robbed. The ropes were loose, the water was drugged....Then, once I'd changed my nature, I realized what a blemish I'd put on this great man's career. Why would I go out and spit on his victory to mess up this great man's name?

I called Muhammad the other day. I said, "Muhammad, I think I can really get you now in a rematch." And he said, "You crazy!" He doesn't speak rapidly, but he said, "George, I'm coming to see you." He said it with such love. No, I don't have any regrets.

The seventies are the best years. That's when you're wise.

My mother used to tell me, "You live and learn. Then you die and forget it all."


Esquire Magazine
January 2004
What I’ve Learned:  George Foreman

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