Puncher, preacher, and rancher George Foreman (1949-) was born on this day in Marshall, Texas. A two-time world heavyweight champion (1973-74, 1994-95), he was 45 when he regained the title, defying the laws of nature as the oldest world heavyweight champion ever.
"Everybody wants to be somebody," he said. "The thing you have to do is give them confidence they can. You have to give a kid a dream."
Foreman's dream was to win again. At the time of his comeback, critics called him too old and out of shape. Foreman, with self- deprecating humor, gargantuan appetite, and mercilessness in the ring, proved the skeptics wrong. He let the negativity roll off him, like water off a duck's back.
"I know from experience," he observed, "that the marriage of mind and body makes the sum more powerful than the individual parts."
Growing up poor in the projects of Houston, Foreman said, "Almost from the time I was born, anger and hunger shaped my youth."
He dropped out of junior high and entered the Job Corps where he took up boxing. In the 1968 Mexico Olympics, he gained national attention by waving a small American flag following his gold medal victory.
Turning pro, he was unbeaten in 40 fights, winning many in the first two rounds. "My opponents didn't worry about losing to me," he told Sports Illustrated. "They worried about getting hurt." In 1973, he KO'ed Joe Frazier in the second round for the championship. Two years later he was KO'ed by Muhammad Ali's rope-a-dope strategy in the historic "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire.
Reputedly one of the hardest-hitting punchers of all time, Foreman's life took a new direction in 1977 after a surprise loss to Jimmy Young. He quit boxing, found God, and became an ordained minister.
"We're like blind men on a corner. We have to learn to trust people, or we'll never cross the street," he said.
Hold on to the gift of what is positive.