Friday, August 5, 2005
Updated: October 13, 8:53 AM ET
Foreman Smokes Frazier
By Kris Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
Jan. 22, 1973 - It was the battle of unbeaten heavyweights. In one corner there was the challenger, George Foreman (1968 Olympic champ), at 6-foot-3 and 217½ pounds. In the other corner was the champ, Joe Frazier (1964 Olympic champ), standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 214 pounds.
Foreman, a 3-1 underdog, was nervous. He hoped that Frazier -- the only fighter Foreman says he ever feared -- wouldn't look down to see his shaking knees. But once the bell rang in Kingston, Jamaica, Foreman stopped shaking and started smoking. The fight lasted less than five minutes.
Dishing out all the punishment, Foreman pounded away at his smaller opponent. Catching Smokin' Joe with unlooked-for right uppercuts, he knocked down Frazier six times in two rounds. After the final one, referee Arthur Mercante stopped the fight at 1:35 of the second round, Foreman winning the title on a TKO.
"I hit him with a punch, and there was a grin on his face, as if he was saying, 'Look, man, you're going to kill me,'" said Foreman (38-0).
Frazier (29-1) said, "I chose to fight him back and that was all wrong. I should have bobbed and weaved and jabbed, but my instinct made me get up and try to continue to press the fight."
Odds 'n' Ends
When Foreman was 14, his mother Nancy had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized.
As a teenager, Foreman was a thug until the night he covered himself in mud to hide from the police. He thought about his cousin telling him, "Nobody in this family is going to be anything." It was the last time Foreman mugged anyone.
When discussing his stint as a young mugger, Foreman later said he never wanted to hurt anybody.
In 1971, Foreman met Jim Brown and Walt Frazier in a Harlem jazz club. Brown only gave Foreman a polite smile and a limp handshake. He didn't even gratify the young fighter with any eye contact, so Foreman figured that's how it was done.
Foreman and Brown eventually became friends, and in 2002 Foreman baptized the NFL's greatest running back.
While sparring before his fight with Muhammad Ali in 1974, Foreman suffered a cut above his eye and the "Rumble in the Jungle" was delayed five weeks.
Foreman believed his downfall in that bout was prearranged. After the fight, he claimed the water he drank in Zaire was spiked.
Nine months after his loss to Ali, Foreman boxed five men in one day on ABC's Wide World of Sports. He won all five three-round exhibition bouts, knocking out three of his opponents.
In his first official fight after the Ali loss, Foreman was knocked down twice before defeating Ron Lyle with a fifth-round knockout on Jan. 24, 1976 in one of the heaviest hitting bouts of all time.
Foreman said it was the toughest fight he ever had. "He hit me so hard that my teeth went through my bottom lip," he said.
Foreman had the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston built in 1981. When Foreman began preaching, his own brother was scared to enter because if reminded him of The Exorcist. "People throwing up and stuff," Roy said.
In June 1983, Foreman came home to find his house empty of his fourth wife, Andrea, and their two children. She had taken them to her native St. Lucia. Foreman made a desperate trip to the Caribbean island and got his children back. Eventually, he was granted joint custody.
Foreman's ABC sitcom, George, lasted only nine episodes, from November 1993 to January 1994.
Hours after defeating Michael Moorer for the heavyweight championship in 1994, Foreman was on a plane back to his Houston church for his Sunday morning service.
Foreman has been married five times. He married the first time during his boxing career and then he married and divorced 3 times between 1977 and 1983.
He is still married to his fifth wife, Mary Martelly (called Joan by many), whom he wed in 1985. The couple has six children, including Mary's daughter from a previous relationship.
Foreman has a total of 10 children -- five sons and five daughters. The boys are named George Edward Foreman II through George Edward Foreman VI. He is George Edward I.