George Foreman Shares The Key To His Boxing Success

Foreman reflected on his career, the Olympics, and the Rumble in the Jungle, among other topics

Tiki and Tierney
November 14, 2019 - 8:13 pm

George Foreman is one of the greatest boxers of all time. He was a two-time WBA heavyweight champion, an IBF heavyweight champion and won gold at the 1968 Olympics. He fought 81 times, finishing 76-5 with 68 KOs. He’s a legend.

But long before boxing, there was baseball – and that, believe it or not, is where Foreman learned fear.

“I was always afraid the pitcher was going to hit me,” Foreman said in studio on Tiki & Tierney. “When I got in the ring, it was like, ‘A pitcher is coming after me.’ I would get so scared and ball my fists up tight, look up and the guy would be on the floor. I had no technique, but I had something to defend me from that baseball pitcher hitting me with that ball. It was fear.”

Foreman felt that fear every time he stepped in the ring. 

Well, almost every time.

“The one time I didn’t have fear, I fought Muhammad Ali in Africa,” Foreman said, referring to the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974. “I (thought), ‘This is the easiest thing that’s going to happen to me.’ I went in the ring without my fear of the baseball pitcher, and them I’m on the canvas. You had to have fear.”

If it seems odd that Foreman didn’t fear Ali, well, he had his reasons. Ali lost to Joe Frazier and Ken Norton in 1971 and 1973, respectively.

Foreman had beaten both of them.

“Ken Norton had beaten (Ali) up and broke (his) jaw, and I had knocked (Norton) out,” Foreman said. “Joe Frazier had knocked him out. I knocked (Frazier) out. I said, ‘I’m just going to be kind to this guy. No butterflies. I love this.’ I got in the ring and lost.”

Indeed, Ali scored the knockout in the eighth round.

“I always manufactured fear from that point on,” Foreman said. “You always should have that. Boxing is the art of self-defense. You got to be able to be a little frightened to defend yourself. But when you lose that, you’re just going out there waiting for someone to get you.”