He had gone on the Dick Cavett Show, he and the girl he was staying with [actress Barbara Hershey]. And she just took out her breast right there on national television! He's there watching them, as [she] breastfed their child. He just looked so tacky. I said, "That's the end of that thought. I don't want that religion, either."
When I was in that dressing room [after the fight withYoung], down on that floor, blood on my hand and forehead, screaming that Jesus Christ was coming alive in me, I wasn't interested in any religion. [But] from that point on, I started reciting the Bible, talking from the pit of my stomach, in that dressing room. [I was] talking about how Jesus was God's son and that he was alive. So when I came out of that, I asked a friend to go get me a Bible. And he said, "What kind?" And I said, "I don't know. One like your mother has." So, he went out and bought me a King James version of the Bible. And that's how I got into religion.
Before you became a believer, your advisors had suggested you clean up your bad-guy image by speaking at churches. I’m curious what you would talk about then, since it didn't seem like you knew a lot about Christianity or the Bible.
Didn't know anything at all. As a matter of fact, after I lost to Ali, I was trying to get people to get on my bandwagon so I could really get a movement to get a title match. And a friend said that there was a church in
So, I got there, and I asked the guy who ran the church, his name was Dr. [Robert] Schuller [now pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in
So Dr. Schuller, as a matter of fact, when I had [my religious] experience, was the first one I called. And I told him what had happened to me. I said, "Look, I’m not playing, man. Jesus is really alive." He said, "I believe you, George." I said, "I'm serious, man! When I spoke at your church, I didn't know what I was talking about." He said, "I believe you."