George Foreman has shown as much outside the ring as he did in ring, in the way he’s publicly handled the passing of his daughter Freeda.
The living legend, 70 years old, joined us on the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast Tuesday and shared some wisdom on how to deal with it when fate throws a thunderbolt at you.
“One thing about life, it’s a wonderful thing to be alive, and to continue living,” said the Hall of Fame fighter, a Texas native and resident.
“But there’s some doors that’s gonna be opened, and you have to understand, if you had passed away young you would not have heard or seen these things. So we gotta keep on living, and whatever those doors are, whenever they open, we gotta just keep on pushin’, sailing, that’s what it’s all about.”
Foreman recalled how he reacted when Freeda came to him and told him she wanted to box.
“This Freeda was the most pretty, curly-headed baby,” he told us. “She was somethin’ special. I thought if anything, she was gonna strive to be a model or something. And she had gotten a nice job, taking care of herself. Then she said, ‘I wanna be a boxer!’ I said, No, no, no. What do you wanna be a boxer for?
“Go get your college education, that’s probably wise,” he counseled her.
But she had a fighting spirit and went her own way, just as her pop did.
“She did get a college education eventually, criminal justice. And she marched, I was there to see her graduate. But I couldn’t stop her, if you are gonna be a boxer, that’s one asset you gotta have, nobody can tell you what to do.”
He chuckled at that thought.
You only have so much control, these kids are going to do what they want to do, despite our “wise” input, though, right? You can offer some guidance along the way, but sometimes you gotta get outta the way a little bit, no?
“You know what, there’s no better saying. You can offer guidance along the way, but sometimes you get outta the way. I gotta write that down and say I said it! I’m gonna steal that one,” he said, chuckling again.
Yes, indeed, his spirit, his resiliency so impressed me, and I was unafraid to repeat that.
Then we talked about less dark and deep matters.
Foreman admitted he thought that Mikey Garcia would get the better of Errol Spence on March 16 and that he got that pick wrong.
“Mikey, I had Mikey winning that fight,” he said.
He knew that Mikey is so clever a boxer that Mikey wouldn’t get steamrolled.
“Errol boxed him,” George said, and he gave him props galore.
“Spence may be one of the best fighters that have come out of Texas since Curtis Cokes. If he can it take on right quickly, in a year or so, Manny Pacquiao back in Texas and win that fight, then I’m going down, and I’m going to bow to him, if he can beat Manny Pacquiao. That would be the biggest fight that you could put on, and maybe the last fight for Manny!”
“Never again,” said George when I asked if he’d pick against Spence against Pacman. “Never doubt him,” he said, in his Ali voice.
We trafficked in other current events. He said he loved the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury scrap. “The Gypsy King got up and put up a fight! That was one of the best heavyweight fights I’ve seen in years!”
He likes Anthony Joshua, but he called the “middleweights still the cream of the crop. Especially the guy from Mexico, Canelo. I don’t know how I’m gonna save money if I have to keep buying all these expensive pay-per-view fights!”
That had me cracking up, considering how well he did on that grill.
That led us into the subject of money; does money being thrown at these boxers, does it always change them? In his day, you had the Rockefellers, and they were accustomed to having money. But people new to money, it can be hard to handle.
“When a fighter like George Foreman or Deontay Wilder gets a million bucks, what is this strange fruit we have,” he said.
Getting large sums can mess with your head. “The money just seems to crawl out of your pocket,” he said. “You think nobody loves you for you,” he added, sharing another layer of difficulty about “making it.”