While plenty of professional athletes do things their own way, George Foreman is in a league of his own. As a boxer, Big George managed to win 76 bouts, claiming the heavyweight title on two separate occasions. Outside of the ring, he became a pop-cultural presence selling his famous grill.
Foreman’s activities, however, weren’t limited to fighting and filming commercials. The boxer is the father to 12 children, including five sons who are all named George.
George Foreman made his name as an incredible boxer
Whether you imagine him throwing punches or selling kitchen appliances, almost everyone is familiar with George Foreman. If not for a single commercial, however, his life could have gone in a completely different direction.
Growing up in Marshall, Texas, Foreman dropped out of high school and joined a street gang. In 1965, however, a commercial turned him onto the Job Corps. He signed up and got to know a counselor named Charles “Doc” Broadus; the former Air Force sergeant encouraged Foreman to try his hand at boxing. From there, the rest is history.
Foreman proved to be a natural fighter and, within a few years, he claimed the gold medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. After that triumph, he returned to the United States and turned pro. He rose through the ranks with incredible ease, capturing the heavyweight title by defeating Joe Frazier. Muhammad Ali, however, would prove to be too much, and Foreman lost the belt in the Rumble in the Jungle.
In 1977, however, Foreman’s career took an unexpected turn. The fighter had a near-death experience after a bout and retired to become a minister; he would eventually return to the ring, however, and even reclaimed his heavyweight title at age 45. After one final defeat in 1997, Big George finally called it a career, once and for all.
From professional boxer to television pitchman
George Foreman’s time in the spotlight, however, didn’t end when he stopped fighting. If anything, the boxer became more famous as the television face of the George Foreman Grill.
While the endorsement didn’t seem like a natural fit—according to a CNBC article about the deal, Foreman initially considered the grill to be a toy—it proved to be a match made in heaven. Once the boxer’s wife cooked him a burger on the grill, Big George was sold.
Although the endorsement deal didn’t give Foreman any guaranteed money, it still proved to be a massive success. While the boxer has since cashed out, he was initially entitled to 45 percent of the grill’s profits; he once told AARP that he would receive checks worth as much as $8 million in a single month.
George Foreman, father of 10
While George Foreman found plenty of success as a boxer and a celebrity pitchman, he has another title on his resume: father of 12.
Throughout his life, Foreman has been married four times and fathered 10 children; he also adopted two daughters bringing the family total to 12. While the girls have a variety of names, the former heavyweight champ kept things simple when it came to the boys. They’re all named George, albeit with different numerals and nicknames.
“George II is Junior, George III is Monk, George IV is Big Wheel, George V is Red, and George VI is Little Joe,” Bill Dwyre in a 2009 LA Times article. “George V got his nickname because his parents had decided, after him, there would be no more. He was the ninth child, a stoplight for them. Of course, they soon ran their own red light, and along came Little Joe.”
Why name all five boys George? The family patriarch has a simple answer.
“I named all my sons George Edward Foreman so they would always have something in common,” he explained on his official website. “I say to them, ‘If one of us goes up, then we all go up together. And if one goes down, we all go down together!”