From The Screen To The Ring: The Real 'Big' George Foreman

A biopic about the great heavyweight drops this Friday
08:00, 27 Apr 2023

This Friday sees the release of Big George Foreman, a cinematic re-telling of one of the most extraordinary ring careers of our time. Even the most occasional fight fans are aware of the bullet points of the story already. 

Foreman is cast as the villain of Muhammad Ali’s heroic night in the Zaire jungle. He fails to recapture his fire afterwards and retires. A decade goes by in which the puncher becomes a preacher. When his boxing earning’s run dry, the former heavyweight champion returns to the ring to raise funds for his youth centre.


A comeback that initially plays to ridicule becomes deathly serious when Foreman wins the heavyweight championship at the age of 45. He remains the oldest man to ever hold the title. In between all this, Foreman endorses a fat-reducing grill that ends up making him richer than boxing ever did. You can see why they’re making a movie about this guy.

Foreman is one hell of a protagonist, a classic Hollywood redemption arc made flesh. But he was also an incredible fighter, one of the best heavyweights in history. As we prepare to relive Foreman’s fairytale, here’s a look back at five of his finest victories. 

TKO2 Joe Frazier, 22/01/73

‘Smokin’’ Joe was on top of the world in 1973. He had become the first man to beat Muhammad Ali, winning ‘The Fight of the Century’ two years before. Frazier was in the fifth year of his reign as heavyweight champion of the world. The iconic Philadelphian had yet to taste defeat.

When he met George Foreman in Kingston, Jamaica everything changed. In two breathless rounds, Frazier, Foreman and boxing itself had their worlds turned upside down. ‘Big’ George knocked the previously-indestructible Frazier down six times on the way to a second-round stoppage. The heavyweight division had a new king. 

TKO2 Ken Norton, 26/03/74

Foreman continued to give former Ali opponents hell, shattering the superb Ken Norton in another two-round mauling. ‘The Fighting Marine’ had beaten Ali the year before but he was no match for the younger, stronger, bigger Foreman. 

In just a few short years, Foreman had changed the paradigm at heavyweight. The big Texan had walked into perhaps the greatest era the division had ever experienced and began clearing it out one boxer at a time. However, when he reached Ali, he would not find it as easy.

TKO7 Dwight Muhammad Qawi, 19/03/88

The former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion was carrying a bit of extra timber when he met Foreman in 1988. But then again, so was George. When the comebacking preacher had returned the previous year, he had done so against journeyman opposition. Qawi represented the first fighter of renown Foreman had faced since the 1970s.

Qawi gave Foreman the most spirited challenge he had faced since his return. Ultimately, the greater size and strength of Foreman won the day. But not before ‘Big’ George had been given a thorough workout by the ‘Camden Buzzsaw’.

KO2 Gerry Cooney, 15/01/90

This is the point where people started taking the comeback seriously. Cooney himself was on a bit of a comeback of his own. Though he was only 33 years old at the time, the former heavyweight title challenger had been out of the ring for three years. 

But Cooney remained a mainstream attraction from his heavily-hyped, controversial title bout with Larry Holmes nine years before. The sight of Foreman smashing him to pieces in two rounds made fans sit up and take notice, to a degree. It would be a stretch to say anyone was predicting the events of the next fight on our list.

KO10 Michael Moorer, 05/11/94

Arguably the greatest result any heavyweight has ever managed to bring about. Foreman summoned a punch for the ages to separate Moorer from his WBA and IBF titles, and his senses, to become the oldest heavyweight champion ever.

The comeback was seen as lunacy. Then it was seen as a joke. Then a qualified success, a fun sideshow against moderate opposition. But, after encouraging displays in title fights against Evander Holyfield and Tommy Morrison, it became something more. Knocking out Moorer, 19 years his junior, solidified Foreman’s return as the greatest comeback in sporting history.

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