George Foreman's Second Chance
The boxing legend, ordained minister, and 'King of the Grills' talks about the power of forgiveness.
BY: Interview by Dena Ross
Before you found God, you were a very angry person and even wanted to hire a hit man to kill people who had wronged you, but you discovered forgiveness. How did you find it in your heart to forgive all of the people who had hurt you?
There were people who were going behind my back and told lies, who had stolen money [from me]. One person after another. It got to be so many people on my list to get even with and hurt, there were too many people to hire a hit man. I was thinking, "How am I going to get all these people?" I was so angry. I would just sit there and steam and [wonder] how could I get rid of these people.
But when I found God after my experience with Jesus Christ, and I saw this place—this big nothing that I was in, I [realized that] I had not found an enemy in this world that I would wish to go to this place. I instantly stopped hating anyone.
As a matter of act, I called all my friends whom I'd mistreated, and asked their forgiveness. I hugged people who really considered themselves my enemies, to let them know there was nothing they had done to me that meant anything. I found peace of mind.
Would there ever be a circumstance where you wouldn't be able to forgive someone?
Oh, not in this life now. I've found my peace of mind. If you wake up one morning without forgiveness in your heart, you'll wake up without children, without a husband, without a wife. Forgiveness is the only way that you can bind love and friendship. Without it, you are empty.
I am so happy to be alive. That's the one thing I'd like for people to know. Sometimes people walk by and slip up and say the wrong thing about me, and I'll smile. They wonder why am I smiling. Because I’m happy that I’m alive.
Tell me a little about your relationship with Muhammad Ali now. Do you feed off of each other spiritually?
In the past he was one of the fellows that I truly didn't like. I really hated him. He took my title, never gave me a title shot. But, when I found Jesus Christ, the first thing that came to my mind was to make sure I shared my experience with Muhammed Ali. And over the years we became the best of friends. We're signing notes, "I love you. George." "I love you. Muhammed." If he had two dollars, and you asked him [for it], he would conceal that it was his last two dollars and give it to you. We're great friends. I love him.
There's a photo in the book of you and Ali in 1984 reading the Bible together. Would you often read and discuss the Bible with him?
Every time I saw him, to the point that he'd hide. "Stop it. Stop it, George!" Just like he would run his mouth to opponents, I was running my mouth to him about the Bible—always pointing out a Bible scripture. He told me, "Just let me alone." But I loved that. That was my greatest experience, explaining and showing him things in the Bible.
Did he try to discuss the Qur'an with you?
Tell us about your favorite answered prayer.
The one prayer that I'll always be grateful for [involved] my nephew, George Edward Dumas. He was literally dying and was in a coma. When I first got the phone call in the middle of the night, I got on my knees for the first time and prayed hard, saying that I'd give up my wealth. I said, "If there's a God, take my life and let that boy live." Then I went to sleep. The next week, that boy was walking around as normal. Now he's over 300 pounds and almost 6'7"
Will you ever return to boxing?
Oh, no! When I was 55, I was going to do it, but my wife put her foot down, and said, "No way!"--after I'd already made press conferences and announcements. I said, "Don't you believe in me? You don't think I can do it? I can still do it." She said, "Isn't that the way you want to leave the sport, George?"
What's your favorite thing about being a Christian?
My chance to have a second chance to live. I found out that the greatest thing in the world—the greatest existence of anything—is that God made us human beings, and that I found out how to love my fellow man. I don't think it's possible for anyone to truly appreciate human beings' lives until they've found Jesus Christ.