Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World premiered in theaters this past weekend, but we had the opportunity to view the film early and speak to its subject — the champ himself – George Foreman, prior to the project’s release.
Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World is based on the remarkable true story of one of the greatest comebacks of all time and the transformational power of second chances. Fueled by an impoverished childhood, Foreman channeled his anger into becoming an Olympic Gold medalist and World Heavyweight Champion, followed by a near-death experience that took him from the boxing ring to the pulpit. But when he sees his community struggling spiritually and financially, Foreman returns to the ring and makes history by reclaiming his title, becoming the oldest and most improbable World Heavyweight Boxing Champion ever. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker George Tillman Jr. from a story by Dan Gordon and Frank Baldwin & George Tillman Jr, and a screenplay by Baldwin & Tillman, the film stars Khris Davis (Judas and the Black Messiah) as Foreman and also stars Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker as Foreman’s trainer and mentor Doc Broadus.
We spoke with Foreman about the challenges of telling his story for the whole world to see and he admitted he had some reservations at first.
“It’s not easy to go out and do a story about your life,” Foreman told BOSSIP. “I can tell you that. You gotta argue and watch script writers and they’ve got to get your confidence and a lot of times you’re telling them parts, but when the movie comes out, you see in picture what you wanted to say with words, and the pictures, that art is something!”
Foreman told us he was particularly moved by watching his humble beginnings onscreen.
“I opened up to the writers and they told stories with pictures,” Foreman said. “Especially the young George Foreman, where I walk into one of those houses my mom would move in — rusty old refrigerator, rusty old stove and I had forgotten about how far I had come. It was a good reminder and gave me a lot of contentment to see what had happened to my life. I’d come a long ways!”
“I remember being the champion of the world. I remember how happy I was, and then how dejected I was when I lost the title the first time, but you think about as a kid, what I had come from where I had come from. It was a triumph, the whole life talk about miraculous, it was a miracle.”
We asked the former heavyweight champion if there was anything in the movie that he was sharing for the first time and he spoke about his experience rallying back in his forties for his second world championship belt.
“For 10 years I was out of boxing,” Foreman recalled. “I didn’t even make a fist. I thought that was it for me. Then to see everything disappear, all that work, for having to come back. I was scared to come back to boxing, really scared. I didn’t want to be a boxer again, but for 10 years I was able to survive and keep my punch, if you know what I mean and I had to open up about that, the challenge of being just a guy to try to try and make myself believe I could be champion of the world again.”
“So many people were telling me, ‘George you’re too old, you should stop,’ and I would look in the mirror every day and say ‘Hey I just got started.’ Then I worked out, trained, and at 45 I was the most strong I’ve ever been in my life. If you’d asked me for the happiest hour in my life, the happiest years in my life would be 45 through 49. I was strong. I could run further, I could punch harder and I could think along with it. The best time of my life.”
The film also features Forest Whitaker as Doc Broadus, Foreman’s longtime coach.
“Doc Broadus was the first person I met in my life that never gave up on me,” Foreman told BOSSIP. “He always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t want to become a boxer in the first place yeah but he kept telling me, ‘Stop fighting in the street George. You could make something of your life.’ Then I did and I became an Olympic gold medalist, and then coming back at the age of forty-five to fight for the title he looked at me in the same way, ‘You could beat this guy!’ Doc Broadus never gave up on me and Forest Whitaker did a great job in portraying Doc Broadus.’
Hit the flip for more from our incredible interview.
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