A high school dropout, George Foreman entered President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Jobs Corps work program, a decision that led to him becoming one of the world’s greatest boxers and a successful business career.
Foreman left school in Houston after ninth grade and admittedly ran with the wrong crowd. But the Jobs Corps program sent him first to Grants Pass, Oregon, and then to Pleasanton, California. It was in Pleasanton that Foreman met trainer Doc Broadus; a boxing career soon would be hatched.
Foreman fought just 20 times as an amateur before traveling to the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games. He was raw, but strong. “The left jab was my No. 1 punch – I still think it was the best punch in boxing,” Foreman said years later.
In four Olympic bouts, Foreman went the distance just once. He stopped Jonas Cepulis of the Soviet Union in the second round of the gold medal bout, prompting Foreman to dance around the ring carrying a small American flag.
Foreman turned professional soon after The Olympics and in 1973 he knocked out Joe Frazier to claim the world heavyweight title. It was the first professional loss for Frazier, the heavyweight gold medalist in the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.
Foreman lost his belts the next year to 1960 gold medalist Muhammad Ali in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” and Foreman eventually retired and became an ordained minister. Foreman spent 10 years away from boxing before attempting a final comeback and at 45 years old, in 1994, won a share of the world heavyweight title.
But in addition to his boxing career, Foreman is very well known for his endorsement of the George Foreman Grill. Since it started selling in 1994, more than 100 million units have been sold worldwide.