George Foreman doesn’t hit the heavy bag anymore. He no longer likes the sound of it.
But the former heavyweight champion still follows boxing from afar — and he still exercises almost every day in some way, shape or form.
“It’s the curse of being an athlete,” Foreman said. “You have to work out for the rest of your life.”
The 71-year-old boxing legend and entrepreneur lives in Houston and most recently developed George Foreman’s Knockout Formula, a lotion that eases the aches and pains he sustained during his storied career. He maintains his physical fitness through a rigorous routine that includes weightlifting and cardiovascular training.
And he’s as eager as anyone else for WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder’s rematch Saturday with lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand Garden.
The Review-Journal spoke with Foreman (76-5, 68 knockouts) about his career, the landscape of the heavyweight division and the Wilder-Fury fight.
RJ: How often do you reflect on your career and everything you accomplished?
Foreman: I think about boxing all the time. … Nothing would have been possible without my boxing career. I had a good life. My parents passed on, but they enjoyed my boxing and all I accomplished in boxing. I sit back and reminisce and think about it, and if it had not been for boxing, none of it would have been possible. Nothing. Not even the grills. Nothing. It took George Foreman the boxer to do all that.
RJ: Is there any accomplishment in particular that you look back on most fondly?
Foreman: The 1968 Olympic gold medal. I was a 19-year-old boy. I never had a dream come true. Never. And there I was, standing on that platform with that gold medal around my neck, listening to the national anthem. It still brings chills. Nothing is second to that. Nothing.
RJ: Not even anything you accomplished professionally?
Foreman: Not as an athlete. … Whenever something is going wrong in my life, I think about that impossible dream. The Olympic gold medal. That’s impossible. It’s impossible.
RJ: What’s your most memorable moment in Las Vegas?
Foreman: It looks like they converted a tennis court or something like that in the back of Caesars Palace. And for the first time, I’m fighting Ron Lyle (on Jan. 24, 1976). I thought it was a tuneup fight for me. And there I am, so embarrassed getting knocked down, over and over in a boxing match. Caesars Palace. There’s Bill Cosby. Sammy Davis Jr. Frank Sinatra. All these guys are around. I’ll never forget that at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
That was my biggest day. I had some big fights. But that was a big day. Celebrities. And getting up off the canvas. I was so happy to win.
RJ: How has boxing changed in the last few decades?
Foreman: There’s so much quick money now if you get out there, promote yourself and go to work. There’s a lot more money to be made. Instantly. My first boxing match, I was rich. I made $5,000 at Madison Square Garden. I still have some of that money left.
These guys can go out and make $25 million. The sky is the limit now.
RJ: What do you make of the current landscape of the heavyweight division?
Foreman: The heavyweight division is more exciting today than the last, I don’t know, 20 years or so. Because there’s a lot of great fighters. There hadn’t been much talk of the heavyweights at all since Mike Tyson went off the scene, and now with Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz. He’s right there, too.
On any given night, one can beat the other.
RJ: How do you see Deontay Wilder’s rematch with Tyson Fury shaping up?
Foreman: To go back in the day, I didn’t have much confidence that Muhammad Ali could hang with Joe Frazier in that first fight. It was 15 rounds, and Joe Frazier whipped him. But Muhammad Ali held his own and got in some good shots. And the winner was all of us in the arena. Then the rematch, it was the same thing, but Muhammad won on points.
This fight, with Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, it puts me in the same mood. This is the most exciting thing in the heavyweight (division). I’m just hoping it goes 12 rounds again. And I’m hoping it’s a controversial decision.
I’m really excited. It’s wonderful to be excited about a heavyweight fight.
Foreman: The way I see it, I just look back on the last fight and believe that Tyson Fury is going to win on a controversial split decision.
Who: Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: MGM Grand Garden
TV: ESPN/Fox Sports pay-per-view
Tickets: Starting at $454 on axs.com
Odds: Wilder -110; Fury +100 (William Hill)
George Foreman’s career
Record: 76-5, 68 knockouts
Las Vegas record: 9-1
Accolades: 1968 Olympic gold medalist; two-time world heavyweight champion; oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history (45).