Foreman: Best punch I ever threw

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
2:27
PM ET
I always enjoy talking to George Foreman. When I chat with the ex heavyweight champion, entrepeneur extraordinaire and preacher, I am certain to come away having heard some stellar anecdotes from back in the day, while also receiving a bit of spiritual guidance and nourishment. On Monday, I touched on a few subjects with Big George, who resides in Texas.

I asked about his holiday plans, and assumed that with ten kids, nine grand-kids, and two great grand-kids, there'd be a holiday festival at the big man's abode, with a massive tree nearly dwarfed by a dump-truck load of presents for the little ones.

Ah, you know what they say about assuming ....

"I go into hiding," said the 64-year-old, who now helps his sons promote boxing events, "because if you buy one gift, you're out of luck!" So, to give his wallet a break, the master blaster from the 70s and 90s has employed a policy of evasion. That shouldn't be a surprise. Foreman, in his second career, was as wily as they come.

I also peppered George with some questions for a forthcoming ESPN The Magazine piece, to come out in February, for Black History Month. I asked George about word choice among black athletes, and how it's changed over the decades. He shared a story about how using certain terms can seem cool, and relevant, but usually, those terms can and will explode in your face down the line.

"Back in the 70s, I thought it was cute to have a lion ... until it started to turn on me." the ex fighter told me. "I was doing a promo for ABC, before the Jimmy Young fight (in 1977), and he tried to attack my brother. I defended my brother and the lion tried to kill me."

I could picture that chaotic scene, which occurred at his home in Marshall, Texas, then and now his primary residence. "I threw the best punch I ever threw at the lion, and it missed. I had to save my brother, so I closed my eyes, and threw with all my might. And I missed him ... but he ran to his cage. I loved that lion, but I saw him coming, and saw his teeth, and only then I realized I shouldn't have had the lion. It's like using a bad word, a person will say it at the wrong time, and only then they will know."

Keep your eyes out for that ESPN The Mag piece next year, friends.
Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.

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