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This Week...                THE TOUGHEST FIGHT OF HIS LIFE                    2/19/18
      George Foreman Part I

       George Foreman is a good old Texas boy. He was born in Marshall, Texas--200 miles north of Houston--but grew up in Houston’s tough Fifth Ward. He said, “From the time I was six or so I was a mean dude and I always wanted to fight, anyone!” He was raised in poverty and said he was always hungry. His mother worked steadily but had a hard time making enough money even to buy food.
     George was sixteen before he ever read a book all the way through. He said, “By junior high my rage and violence had become second nature. I cultivated the tough guy reputation and so when I reached high school, I dropped out.” George adds that he never really got to know his natural father, but later in life, it made him determined to plant deep roots for his children. He said, “I wanted my kids to have a foundation that nobody could ever take away from them.”
     His road to trouble took a turn when at 15 years old George joined the Job Corps and was sent to Pleasanton, California. He was the most difficult of the many troubled kids at the center. But he believes God allowed him to stay because of a supervisor who took him aside to train him in boxing. As a result, he became an excellent student.
     On a dare, someone challenged George to an Olympic boxing event and said, “Put your money where your mouth is.” So in 1968 Foreman competed at the Olympics in Mexico City, in the heavyweight division.
     In the final match, Foreman drew a Soviet Union fighter, Jonas Cepulis. Cepulis' face was already bleeding in the first round from Foreman's powerful punches. Then early in the second round, Cepulis had to take a standing eight count. Foreman defeated Cepulis in that same round; the referee stopped the fight and Foreman won a gold medal in the heavyweight boxing division. After Mexico City, Foreman became a sparring (training) partner for ex-heavyweight champ Sonny Liston, who lost his title to Cassius Clay in 1964 (later known as Muhammad Ali).
     George turned professional in 1969 having a total of 13 fights that year, winning all of them including 11 knockouts. In 1970 he held the undisputed heavyweight title, winning all 12 of his bouts, including 11 knockouts. George went on to battle some of the biggest stars in the boxing world such as Ken Norton, and Muhammad Ali. He also knocked down Smokin’ Joe Frazier five times to claim the WBA, WBC, and The Ring, heavyweight championship titles in Kingston, Jamaica in January of 1973.
     One of Foreman’s biggest disappointments came in Zaire, Africa, less than two years later, when George lost the heavyweight title to Ali. The loss tormented George. He felt empty and his personal life became a train wreck with many women scattered through it. Boxing fans actually booed him when he came into the ring. Feeling unappreciated just made him meaner.
     At the same time, George had always been very close to his family. When he learned his five-year-old nephew George was hospitalized and in a coma, he bargained with God to take his life instead of his nephew’s. He had really tried to reach out to God at that point.
     A couple of more years had passed but George hadn’t given much more thought that God was real. In March of 1977, George took on Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico and lost. It was the fight of his life. When he got back to the dressing room, he sensed he was dying and heard a voice say, “I don’t want your money. I want you!”

The life story of George Foreman is shared in this account
of how God has built George into a man of faith
who is seen worldwide as a positive role model.

     In those next moments, George underwent an intense spiritual struggle that caused raised eyebrows in the dressing room. George began to act out in response to his encounter with a true and living God. He finally yelled, “Jesus Christ is coming alive in me!” He told everyone he loved them and kissed them. They thought he was losing his mind, but when it was over George knew he would never be the same again.
     Next week, come back and join us as we share how God has used George Foreman in the lives of other people. He’s done so much more than create a kitchen grill. God has given him a real ministry with real impact. Stay tuned for part two.

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