GEORGE FOREMAN – Better Now Than Ever!
INTERVIEW BY PAT BURNS
We seek out people who inspire…people who live compassionate, interesting lives, and have something to teach us about living agelessly!
George Foreman is such a person. Yes, he has a fabulous resume (see sidebar) and a career that keeps changing and evolving, like many of us.
Even more, he radiates a positive, can-do, upbeat attitude that you just want to be around. Let Pat Burn’s interview with George lift you up!
“Fathers can show their children how men are supposed to treat women fathers can show their children how men are supposed to treat women by the way they treat their wives. I’ve always heard the best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother. This speaks volumes to our kids. If we treat our wives with dignity and respect, then our daughters will come to expect that from the men who come into their lives.”
Excerpt from Fatherhood by George
GRAND: You’ve probably been asked this before but can you tell us why you named all of your sons George Edward Foreman?
George Foreman: I tell them, look, we all have the same names, so if one goes down, remember, we’ve committed the crime, or we’ve done the great deed, or however they choose to take us. One name all the way and I gave them something to fall back on. Plus, if you’re going to be in the ring, hit by Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton and Evander Holyfield, there are not many names you’re going to remember anyway.
GRAND: You also have five daughters. How’d you name them?
George Foreman: They have different names. My wife told me “I’ll remember the names.” I have one Georgetta and one Frieda George. Then I had to abandon the ‘George.’
GRAND: You wrote a book about fatherhood. Now you’re a grandfather. Are they similar or different?
Grandfatherhood is a whole new challenge.
George Foreman: You can’t take fatherhood into grandfatherhood at all. It’s a whole new challenge. You learn as you go. Your children are the parents and you are the grandfather. You gotta get that separation.
GRAND: So, entrepreneurship; that George Foreman Grill, how did that opportunity come to you?
George Foreman: It started as a joke. I made my comeback and everyone was saying ‘George is so big.’ I was a hit on Madison Avenue with lots of companies. A friend of mine said, ‘George, you’re making all these other companies wealthy. Why don’t you get your own product?’ I said, ‘OK, let’s find one.’ So we found this grill and I started doing my protein on it, hamburgers and steaks, and the grease would actually roll away. I didn’t know it would be a huge success. I was just hoping to get a few for myself!
GRAND: Did you have any backlash from the boxing community?
George Foreman: Everyone laughed. Then I got a check because we had sold 3000, then 100,000. Believe me after 120 million worldwide, everybody stopped laughing.
GRAND: And now, you’re into shoes with The Walking Company. Tell us about that.
George Foreman: Henry Winkler called and invited me to be part of this show, Better Late Than Never. We traveled to Asia and I had to walk all over. My feet couldn’t take it. I started looking for a shoe that would alleviate pain and hooked up with The Walking Company. I told them what I needed, a shoe that worked good and looked good. They had a guy at Stanford University who had done the research for a shoe that would actually correct imbalances in your feet. I got that shoe and started walking around and I decided to call it the George Foreman walking shoe. I’m promoting the shoe, not because I’m looking for a business success, but because people like me need a good shoe.
GRAND: Better Late Than Never is a totally fun show. Your relationship with the guys is awesome. In one of the episodes, you asked the others, ‘What was the moment on this trip where you learned the most about yourself’? So can you tell us about a moment in your life that taught you a valuable life lesson?
“I learned you can continue to make friends until your last breath.”
You think you know George…did you know this?
- Born in Houston, Texas in1949 into a world of poverty, gangs and crime. Dropped out of school at 15 but pursued boxing training
- Won Olympic gold medal at age 19
- Won 76 of 81 professional fights
- Became an ordained minister
- Won world heavyweight championship for 2nd time at age 45 (still the oldest man to do this)
- Became a top marketer with the George Foreman Grill (120 million sold)
- Is the father of 12 (yes, all the boys carry his first name) and granddad of ——-!
- Author/co-author of many books, including George Foreman’s Guide to Life: How to Get Up Off the Canvas When Life Knocks You Down, Going the Extra Smile, and Fatherhood By George: Hard-Won Advice on Being a Dad
- Established a Youth Center with brother, Roy, in Houston
- Became a footwear entrepreneur because he had chronic foot pain
- TV Star in reality-travel series on NBC: Better Late Than Never with pals William Shatner, Henry Winkler and Terry Bradshaw
- Father of 10 (5 boys all named George) 5 girls, 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandkids
- Lifelong lover of dogs and other animals
“When you do anything with the belief that all things are possible, that’s it.”
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER with William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw, Jeff Dye, Henry Winkler and George Foreman in Japan. Better Late Than Never is an American reality-travel show that airs on NBC. It’s about four older guys who travel together experiencing new cultures and checking off their bucket lists.
George Foreman: Great things continue to happen; that’s one thing I love about life. I went to Asia with four guys. I’d seen them around, but didn’t know them. Now they’re friends. So I learned you can continue to make friends until your last breath.
GRAND: Wow. I love that. Tell us, have you ever slipped and called your friends, Captain Kirk or Fonzie?
George Foreman: All the time. Henry Winkler will jump up out of the seat, and he seems to be Fonzie. And Bill? There’s no William Shatner; there’s Captain Kirk. He’s in charge of everything. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever met, 86 going on 26.
GRAND: Let’s talk boxing. You started out as a two time Olympian and went on to the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation heavyweight titles. Which would you say is more important, your mental ability to strategize or your physical ability?
George Foreman: I was 19 when I won the Olympic gold medal. I had never had a dream come true. I stood on a platform. They put the medal around my neck. I heard the national anthem. From that point on I knew dreams could be real. When you do anything with the belief that all things are possible, that’s it. That mental state of ‘it can happen’ is what matters most. Of course you have to do a lot of work, but dreams come true if you work and you believe. I can tell you that.
GRAND: How would you advise people to prepare to do the hard work needed?
George Foreman: Put yourself in the right position and do what it takes. Think of it this way. One guy falls asleep on his desk and another guy has an alarm to keep waking him up so he doesn’t fall asleep. I try to sell that to people now. They say, ‘I’ll never have the height. I’ll never have the speed. I’ll never have the ability or the creativity.’ But we can all have it all. All we gotta do is put ourselves in that position. Just go there. You’ll see.
When you do anything with the belief that all things are possible, that’s it.
GRAND: You knocked out Steve Zouski by the fourth round and said you wanted to show everyone that age 40 was not a death sentence. Is your new footwear business a proclamation that 70 isn’t a death sentence?
George Foreman: If you can wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and look out your window, you can still have great dreams. At any age we can dream as much as I did as a 19-year-old Olympian. There’s never any reason to stop or tuck your ambition under the rug. Keep dreaming. It’s as important today for me to have dreams and ambition as it was when I was a boy.
GRAND: How do you care for your body at age 69?
George Foreman: You hit the nail on the head when you said ‘care.’ We must care for our bodies so these things can take us all the way into our 90s. There may have to be some pills here and there, prescriptions to help us, but I eat just like I’m training for the world heavyweight title. I’ve never said, ‘Now you can put it down and become a pretender. You are not a contender, you are the champ’.
GRAND: Do you work out?
George Foreman: I have every piece of gym equipment you can imagine. I got up this morning and I was bench pressing. I’ll do another piece. Then I’ll get out with my dogs…do my duty taking care of my animals. That means walking.
GRAND: How many dogs do you have?
George Foreman: I have so many dogs my wife thinks I have a problem! I’ve always loved dogs.
“I get up and exercise and I applaud the aches and pains.”
GRAND: What about aches and pains, George? How do you take care of that?
George Foreman: The thing about aches and pains is everybody’s going to get them. I had them when I was 19 years old, but it didn’t keep me from getting that gold medal. I had them really bad when I was 23 years old fighting for the world heavyweight title, but it didn’t stop me from going into the ring with Joe Frazier and Mohammed Ali. I was 45 when I recaptured the title. I had aches and pain that morning, but it didn’t stop me from becoming a heavyweight champ of the world, again, 20 years later. So today I get up and exercise and I applaud the aches and pains because they’re making me remember if you exercise continuously, the pain can go away.
GRAND: Let’s talk about your grandkids. How do you encourage your grandchildren to be physically active? What do you do about the addiction of technology? Maybe your advice can help some of us with our grandkids.
George Foreman: My wife was born in the West Indies, on St Lucia. All she can remember was getting outside. They would do things. They had a plantation and would work in the garden, come back home, clean up, eat dinner, then get a good rest. She pushes me and the grandkids to do things like that –get up, get outside. Life is not about sitting inside. If you get kids to go outside, they’ll fall in love with the outdoors, even more than they do with cell phones and all those things. Take a walk. If you go, they’ll follow you.
GRAND: What types of activities do you all do as a family?
George Foreman: We all love to get together and try different foods. Some of us are vegetarians and they are always trying to convert the others. And then we have fish eaters, beef eaters, and egg eaters. We get together and share our food. We talk and we love to argue.
GRAND: George, this has just been so much fun. You’ve offered some wonderful pearls of wisdom. I like to finish up my interviews by asking three quick fill in the blank questions. So work is…?
George Foreman: A blessing.
GRAND: Success is…?
George Foreman: Family.
GRAND: Love is…?
George Foreman: Thirty years of marriage.
GRAND: Well, you’ve just won husband points there. George, is there anything else you’d like to add before we close up the call?
George Foreman: I had ball. I enjoyed it.
GRAND: This was wonderful for me, too, Really such a gift. Thank you so much, George. Blessings to you from all of us at GRAND.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER – PAT BURNS
Pat Burns is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Orange County Children’s Book Festival; a Celebrity Journalist, Film Reporter, the author of Grandparents Rock®. Also, a happy grandmother of four
For more interviews by Pat Burns, click here