George Foreman is easily one of the most beloved ex-fighters on the planet, a giant of a man who fought in not just one, but two great eras of heavyweight boxing. He stepped in the ring with everyone from Joe Frazier to Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield to Tommy Morrison, but despite being one of the most recognisable faces in sport, his actual story remains somewhat mysterious.
Until now, thanks to an excellent documentary made in 2017 about the heavyweight legend, and now available on Sky. It's a fascinating retrospective into the boxing career of the man who also became famous for selling us his lean, mean, grilling machine, with the immortal pitch “It’s so good I put my name on it!” And that’s exactly what they’ve done with this documentary too - they put his name on it!
Foreman is framed around his phenomenal comeback and concluding with the boxer’s ground-breaking title win against Michael Moorer in 1994 at 45 years of age. It incisively breaks down the life and career of one of boxing’s most enigmatic characters.
Using unprecedented behind-the-scenes footage and a plethora of excellent interviewees and directed by Chris Perkel, it’s incredibly visceral in showing just how destructive this 6’4’’ wrecking-machine was in his heyday, decimating all who stood in his path with ease. Chuck Wepner, who fought Foreman in 1969, remarks that a single punch from ‘Big George’ “busted me open and my eyebone came through my eye from the inside out” - We can’t actually comprehend what this means but… yikes.
Another thing that Foreman does really well is highlighting how differently life could’ve ended up for him, after growing up in Houston’s rough and tough 5th Ward. We all know Foreman as the super friendly ordained Christian minister and peddler of grills these days, but in his youth some might be surprised to find that he had a real mean streak.
Foreman found himself in trouble often, even claiming himself that he wasn’t a particularly nice man and that “he ran the streets”. It was actually after mugging someone that he decided to change. Having been forced to hide underneath a house and cover himself from head to toe in mud to evade the police (as you do), it was enough for a young Foreman to re-evaluate his life and, not long after, he found the noble art of boxing.
“George, if you think you’re so tough, why don’t you become a boxer?” he remarks in his famous Texan drawl.
More than anything, you should watch Foreman because it is damn inspirational viewing. Seeing him lift the World Heavyweight Title against Moorer, 20 years after losing it to Ali in ‘The Rumble In The Jungle,’ is as uplifting to watch now as it was back then. In fact, George Foreman might just be the personification of the famous idiom that ‘age is just number’.
Foreman is unmissable viewing for any boxing fan and you can catch it on Sky Documentaries now. Word of warning - you won’t look at that lean, mean grilling machine in the kitchen the same way again!