- 26 Oct 1968
- Mexico 1968
Heavyweight star is born as Foreman takes gold
History records George Foreman as one of the most famous and enduring heavyweight boxers in history, but his career began in 1968 when he arrived as a talented amateur and left as a star.
Foreman had had a troubled childhood, leaving school at the age of 15. He was one of seven children and turned to boxing as a way to focus his energy.
He won the American Amateur title, but arrived in Mexico City as a 19-year-old novice by international standards, having had only 18 bouts in his career. Many queried whether he would be overwhelmed; he most certainly was not.
Foreman's first win came on a judges' 4-1 decision as he beat Lucjan Trela of Poland. After that came two comprehensive victories – the referee stopped the contest in his win over Ion Alexe while Foreman knocked out Italy's Giorgio Bambini in the second round of his semi-final.
By now Foreman was getting plenty of attention but he was also up against a tough opponent in the final – the Soviet fighter Jonas Čepulis, who had won each of his three bouts at the Games with a stoppage. A close contest was predicted.
But instead Foreman won with ease, the refereeing stopping the contest less than a minute into the second round. Foreman had won gold, and had not even been taken the distance in his last three bouts.
He turned professional shortly after his Mexico City success. Within five years, Foreman was Heavyweight Champion of the World after knocking out the 1964 Olympic champion, Joe Frazier. He retired from boxing in 1977 before returning a decade late. Seven years after that, he knocked out Michael Moorer to retake the Heavyweight Championship at the age of 45, making him the oldest heavyweight champion in history.
Foreman retired from the ring for good in 1997, aged 48, and became a successful businessman and broadcaster. He has 12 children, including five boys – all called George!