George Foreman Speaks On The Top 5 Boxers Of All Time And HBO’s Championship Bout

The most interesting man is the world isn’t the cavalier chum in those Dos Equis beer commercials, it’s legendary pugilist George Foreman. His track record is as solid as his right hook. The rugged brawler won an Olympic gold medal in 1968, has been heavyweight champion twice and is still the oldest title-holder in history. Let’s not forget that he’s survived a brutal bout with Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle for added measure. On the personal side, he’s named all five of his children “George” and has flipped 100 million portable George Foreman Grills, earning him over $200 million dollars. Now that’s a charmed life.

Since retiring in 1997, Foreman has taken up boxing commentary and gives incredible insight on the physical aspect and business angle of the sweet science. VIBE caught up with George Foreman, to discuss the sport and the upcoming featherweight championship fight (he's co-promoter of this event) with undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight champion Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez this Saturday, June 15th on HBO at 10:45PM ET. Tune in and watch history be made in the squared circle, but first check out the grillin’ master's Q&A below. -Richard Boadu

Talk about this weekend's fight between Mikey Garcia and Juan Manuel Lopez.
George Foreman: It’s going to be great. I’m interested in Garcia. I want to see what he’s going to do. He’s the best left hooker that’s not from Philadelphia. He’s the champ right now so that means a lot to me. I’m just happy to be in a promo with a real title match.

This year is the 40th anniversary of you winning your first heavyweight title. How did you feel after winning that fight?
Foreman: It’s like it just happened yesterday. I had fought 37 matches since I won the gold medal. I wanted to be a champion but I didn’t want to get in the ring with Joe Frazier. I knocked him down the first time and thought to myself, “He’s going to kill me.” I knocked him down again and again. I was knocking him down out of fear, and before I knew it, they were holding my hand up and calling me the champion. My life hasn’t been the same since. As soon as you become champion, you can feel the legacy of Jack Dempsey, Joe Johnson, Muhammad Ali and all of the great fighters. All of it just falls right on you. It feels like you’ve been anointed.

What do you consider the highest and lowest moments of your career?
Foreman: The Olympic Gold medal in 1968 was definitely the highest moment of my career. It was a dream come true. I was a 19-year-old boy and it was just amazing to be standing on top of the podium and hearing the National Anthem in the background. I’d have to say losing the title to Ali in ’74 was the lowest moment in sports for me. It was the most devastating thing in my boxing career, and it still hurts to this day.

Who are your top five pound-for-pound fighters of all time?
Foreman: In no particular order: Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Mayweather (we need to wait ‘till his career is over to see where he ranks), Oscar De La Hoya, Sugar Ray Leonard (it never got any better than him) and Muhammad Ali. I’ve got six in there, but that’s okay.

In terms of popularity, boxing is nowhere near where it was during your prime. What's it going to take to get the sport back to the level that it once was?
The sport needs a personality, not a fighter. We’ve got plenty of great fighters in the sport, but no personalities. No one is standing for anything. The last personality we had was Mike Tyson. He stood for something. It wasn’t much, but he stood for something. We need another personality, not like Mike, but another Ali, Joe Louis or somebody like that. Once we get a new personality and sportswriters to write about him, the sport will be #1 again if that happens.

Take us through a day in your life now.
I get up early. I breed German shepherd dogs so I’m up early taking care of them. I also run the George Foreman Youth Center so that also keeps me busy. I’m a full-time minister so my Sundays are always busy. I just try to spend as much time with my wife, kids and 8 grand kids. Anytime I can sneak in a moment to fish and ride horses, I’m a happy camper.

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