BEFORE Tyson Fury, there was another heavyweight champion who worked his way up to a fortune and kept promising to hang up the gloves forever.
The legend of the ring fought Muhammad Ali at 1974’s Rumble In The Jungle, which defined the era.
He took a ten-year break from boxing before returning in 1987, aged 38, to complete one of the sport’s most remarkable stories.
Foreman stunned naysayers to become the oldest heavyweight champion the world had ever seen, just days shy of his 46th birthday, when he knocked out 26-year-old Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their fight in Las Vegas. Vegas.
It was like something out of a Hollywood movie, and now it’s about to become one.
A biopic titled Heart Of A Lion is in production and will remind the world that George, 73, it should be remembered for much more than selling “bad skinny grilling machines”.
The Texan, who earned £120m at the George Foreman Grill, went from mugger to Olympic gold medalist, world boxing champion, ordained minister and five-times married father of 12 children.
While Foreman says a break would do the defending champion good, he believes Fury, who beat Dillian Whyte last month to retain her title, is unlikely to follow through on his threat to resign.
An unmissable clash with another British fighter Anthony Joshua it would be worth as much as £100 million.
In an exclusive interview, George tells The Sun: “To get a new breath of life, you may need to take a couple of years off and enjoy retirement.
“But the fans won’t be paying attention to any other fight until Fury and Joshua get in the ring.”
When Foreman burst onto the fight scene in the early 1970s, he was described as petty and moody.
But he was a jovial figure and a consummate artist at the time of his unlikely middle-aged triumph.
He says, “Fury has taken a page out of Ali’s book. He is the greatest show on earth.
“He loves what he is doing. He has fun when he trains and when he is in front of the microphone and in front of the audience, a light goes on”.
Fury would recognize a lot of himself in Big George. The Texan had a rough start in life before finding purpose in the ring.
His father Leroy Moorehead left his mother Nancy when he was young and he was raised by his stepfather JD Foreman.
The troubled Fifth Ward of Houston, where he grew up, was considered a ghetto, filled with boarded-up homes.
He says: “Everyone was tough in the neighborhood. There were two roads, literally two sides of the street. One was all about trouble.
“The other was about getting a good education and making something of yourself in life.
“I was on the other side. It was hard because that’s how I wanted to live.”
Theirs was a wild youth, with George and his six siblings forced to fend for themselves.
He adds: “Mom and dad split up early, so there wasn’t a lot of supervision for me. I didn’t have a lot of confidence and it took me a lot of years and a lot of trouble to get away from that lifestyle.”
My life was going nowhere. I was a teenage delinquent. He was on the street robbing and assaulting people.
With great honesty, George admits to being a bully and a threat.
Looking back, he reveals, “I always struggled. In one of the schools I went to, I became a bully. Because once when someone tried to bully me, I decided I wanted to bully everyone.
“My life was going nowhere. I was a teenage delinquent. He was on the street robbing and assaulting people.”
A brush with the law after a robbery led Foreman to choose a different path at the age of 16.
He said: “My mother was very proud of me. She didn’t know what she was doing. Once, I climbed out of the window of a house hiding from the police and told myself that I would never steal again.”
He signed up for a jobs program that took him to California and into the boxing ring.
Still towering in his seventies at 6-foot-3, George added: “I met my first trainer named Doug who taught me how to box. That was an experience that changed my life.”
He became an American hero by winning gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and turned professional a year later.
Foreman was expected to retain his title in his fight against Ali in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30, 1974.
He had beaten ring legend Joe Frazier the previous year to seize the crown and beat the tough Ken Norton in March 1974.
He and Ali couldn’t have been more different.
Ali the buffoon courted the world’s media while Foreman avoided interviews.
After a night of fighting, I saw blood on my hands and forehead and I had cuts. I started screaming, ‘Jesus Christ, come alive!’ I became an ordained minister in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and for ten years I did nothing else.
Ali’s cruel taunts meant there was real animosity between them when the opening bell rang.
Foreman tired himself out throwing countless punches while Ali stayed on the defensive, his “rope-a-dope” tactic destined to enter boxing folklore.
Ali then dropped Foreman for the first time in his career, ending the fight in the eighth round.
There would be no rematch and Foreman befriended Ali, who died in 2016 after a long-term Parkinson’s disease.
Foreman said: “When Muhammad Ali got sick, we already had a close relationship, but we grew even closer.”
George took a year off from boxing after losing to Ali, before making a brief comeback in 1976.
In 1977 he received such a beating at the hands of Jimmy Young that Foreman feared he might die.
He asked God for help and believes his prayers were answered.
That year he definitively retired from boxing and was later ordained as a Christian minister.
He says: “After a night of fighting, I saw blood on my hands and forehead and I had cuts. I started screaming, ‘Jesus Christ, come alive!’ I became an ordained minister in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and for ten years I did nothing else.”
But he admits: “I was broke and told my family I was going back to boxing to earn money for my youth center and to take care of my children. They thought he was crazy. My wife didn’t want me to fight.”
At the time of his return in 1987, he was married to Mary Joan Martelly.
And they are still together, while none of their previous four marriages lasted more than four years.
His five sons are named George Edward, and one of his seven daughters is named Georgetta.
When Muhammad Ali got sick, we already had a close relationship, but we got even closer.
From paternityGeorge says, “I’ve raised a lot of kids. I don’t think anyone can say that I’ve been a failure with children.
“It’s a continuous growth thing. There is no such thing as a good father and a bad father: you are a father. And I love it.”
When he announced that unlikely return, Foreman weighed over 21, much of it limp.
He recalls: “Everyone was laughing at me because I had swollen up. I had to fight to get in shape.”
Over the course of several fights, he got back into shape.
George claimed that part of his success was due to healthy eating and agreed to put his name on a “fat-reducing” grill.
That backing made him millions and allowed him to purchase a 300-acre property in Texaswhere his collection of 40 luxury cars is parked.
A 1991 title fight against the undisputed champion Evander Holyfield it ended in loss, although Foreman lasted the full 12 rounds.
He lost another title tilt two years later against Tommy Morrison.
And when new champion Michael Moorer opted to fight Foreman over Britain’s Lennox Lewis in 1994, only one winner seemed possible.
Moorer had beaten Holyfield, at 26 years old he was 19 years younger than Foreman and proved faster for most of the fight.
However, even at age 45, George’s devastating punching power proved to be too much, and he knocked out Moorer.
It’s the story of an underdog who never gives up and promises to have audiences cheering when Heart Of A Lion hits theaters this April.
The biographical film starring the Oscar winner Whitaker Forest as George’s former trainer Doc Broadus with Judas and the Black Messiah actor Khris Davis as George, and it’s been long overdue.
The theme of the film says with a smile: “If you live long enough, you will see everything, even a movie about you.”