HOUSTON, Texas – George Foreman remains a household name for generations of Americans. He’s an Olympic champion, a two-time heavyweight champ, a preacher, a broadcaster, a husband, father of 12, and even a TV pitchman. His latest role is executive producer for a movie about his life. It’s called “Big George Foreman” and it hits theaters Friday.
It’s been nearly 30 years since George Foreman’s historic return to the ring to become the world’s oldest heavyweight champion at age 45. Three decades later, he’s still one of boxing’s biggest personalities.
“When I made my comeback into boxing, I was ready to go and my wife didn’t like it all. But she had a vision that I was going to become heavyweight champion of the world,” Foreman tells CBN News. “We never forgot that vision. And she had to be reminded of it as well, that I was heavyweight champion of the world. That kept me fighting. That kept me fighting.”
His fight for the two-time championship dream is now a story for the silver screen.
What was it like, to return the ring later in life?
“When you get to the age I was, past middle age, and becoming a grandpa and all of that, you have got to really believe in what God tells you. And so I fought to make sure that no one would ever take that dream away from me,” he says.
There are two fights going on in the film. There’s the physical fight. But there is also a spiritual fight.
What do you remember most about the spiritual fight, is it still vivid?
“I didn’t believe in God. I really did believe there was a living God. I knew there was stories about it. My mom would talk about it, but I was like that’s for poor people. That’s not going to happen. And so, I am in a dressing room after my last boxing match in ’77, where I find out there is really a living God. The fight was over then. It was a knockout. God had me,” Foreman recalls.
More than 40 years after that God knock-out, Foreman’s faith remains at the forefront of his heart as a mentor and minister.
How did the call of God come to you? Was it in that moment that you knew you wanted to preach?
“After San Juan, Puerto Rico when I had that experience, I was dead and alive again, screaming in that dressing room, ‘Jesus Christ is coming alive in me!’ I thought it would just go away, maybe I was hit too hard. Too many punches, whatever. But it never left me. The smell of death, when I died in that dressing room, it has never left me to this day. And I wanted to make certain that everyone I met would know the story of Jesus Christ, forget about George Foreman.”
It’s also why he’s sharing his story, the highs and the lows.
Was there anything painful to relive in telling it?
“There was a painful part in the movie. My mom moving around. She always moved around. And I would go into these homes. And there was this rusty refrigerator, rusty stove. We would always run into it. People would leave those houses before we moved in and they would leave these refrigerators and stoves and most of them never worked. And I cried when I saw that because I had forgotten about it.”
What about the absent father?
“You know, growing up without a father, that was touching, but my mother seemed to occupy that. She would love you with one hand, spank you with the other. I’m going to be mom and dad to you. You are going to be a good boy. She did the best she could,” Foreman says.
What is life like for you today? Are you still preaching?
“I’m still a full-time evangelist with the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what I do. That is my profession. I moonlighted as a grill salesman and a boxer for a long time. But my profession has always been that of a preacher.”
His latest pulpit – sharing his “Big George Foreman” story on the big screen.
Watch Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World’s trailer below: