I always enjoy talking to George Foreman. When I chat with the ex heavyweight champion, entrepeneur extraordinaire and preacher, I am certain to come away having heard some stellar anecdotes from back in the day, while also receiving a bit of spiritual guidance and nourishment. On Monday, I touched on a few subjects with Big George, who resides in Texas.
I asked about his holiday plans, and assumed that with ten kids, nine grand-kids, and two great grand-kids, there'd be a holiday festival at the big man's abode, with a massive tree nearly dwarfed by a dump-truck load of presents for the little ones.
Ah, you know what they say about assuming ....
"I go into hiding," said the 64-year-old, who now helps his sons promote boxing events, "because if you buy one gift, you're out of luck!" So, to give his wallet a break, the master blaster from the 70s and 90s has employed a policy of evasion. That shouldn't be a surprise. Foreman, in his second career, was as wily as they come.
I also peppered George with some questions for a forthcoming ESPN The Magazine piece, to come out in February, for Black History Month. I asked George about word choice among black athletes, and how it's changed over the decades. He shared a story about how using certain terms can seem cool, and relevant, but usually, those terms can and will explode in your face down the line.
"Back in the 70s, I thought it was cute to have a lion ... until it started to turn on me." the ex fighter told me. "I was doing a promo for ABC, before the Jimmy Young fight (in 1977), and he tried to attack my brother. I defended my brother and the lion tried to kill me."
I could picture that chaotic scene, which occurred at his home in Marshall, Texas, then and now his primary residence. "I threw the best punch I ever threw at the lion, and it missed. I had to save my brother, so I closed my eyes, and threw with all my might. And I missed him ... but he ran to his cage. I loved that lion, but I saw him coming, and saw his teeth, and only then I realized I shouldn't have had the lion. It's like using a bad word, a person will say it at the wrong time, and only then they will know."
Keep your eyes out for that ESPN The Mag piece next year, friends.