HOUSTON — George Foreman named each of his five sons after himself, clearly set on carrying on the family name. The two-time heavyweight champion, however, drew the line at a family boxing tradition.
“It is such a rough sport,” he said. “I never wanted my kids to do that.”
Still, when George III chose to box, his father was there. On Saturday, George III will become Foreman’s first son to fight professionally when he faces Clyde Weaver in Kinder, La. A sister, Freeda George, had a short boxing career early in the decade.
George III, who is nicknamed “Monk,” is six-foot-five, 240 pounds.
He may have gotten to the ring sooner if not for his father’s insistence on putting education first.
The 26-year-old son has worked as his father’s business manager since getting a business degree from Rice.
“That was the main focus with my family,” Monk said.
“I couldn’t even talk about girlfriends until I had my college degree, much less boxing. Once I did that I’m sure they figured, it’s my life.”
Monk had been training mostly on his own for almost a year with some advice from his father before George decided he’d test him. The intimidating bear of a man entered the ring and announced the pair would spar the next day.
“So he walks in there, doesn’t smile at me, doesn’t tell me anything, says ‘no pointers,”’ Monk said.
“He goes off in the corner, puts his headgear on by himself, didn’t give me any coaching for three days and he just pulverized me.”
So George hit his son?
“He hit me,” George said. “He didn’t hurt me, but he hit me.”
When it was over, George came away impressed and is now Monk’s trainer and manager.
“When you get in the ring with the ex-heavyweight champion of the world, if that doesn’t frighten you, nothing can frighten you,” George said. “He wasn’t bothered by it.”
George, who was almost 60 at the time, was a bit troubled by the session.
“He scared me because I was trying to hit him with that big jab of mine . . . and he kept jumping up like: ‘I’m going to hit you’ and I thought: ‘I don’t think I’m going to be doing this much,”’ George said. “I don’t want to be hit in the head anymore.”
This will be Monk’s first official fight after several attempts at amateur bouts fell through.
Turns out no one wanted to face a man with genes like his, even if he was inexperienced.
Monk said he ran into the fathers of a couple of the men he was set to fight.
“They’d say: ‘It was my son, he was going to fight you and he couldn’t sleep at night,”’ Monk said.
Added his father: “That George Foreman name can get you in trouble. You can’t get an amateur career when everybody thinks you are the reincarnation of George Foreman.”
After more than three months of cancelled amateur fights, George came up with the idea for Monk to go professional, believing the opponent would show up to collect a cheque.
Monk’s newfound career has created an interesting dynamic between father and son.
George isn’t quite as bossy with Monk in his role as business manager now that he’s managing his boxing career.
“When you’re managing your father, he can come and he can tell you off real good and point his finger at you,” Monk said. “But when he’s your manager in boxing and your trainer he has to say: ‘I don’t want to upset this guy because I have to deal with him this afternoon and I don’t want him to fire me.”’
Though the entire family — which includes 10 children — is supportive of Monk’s dream, some aren’t exactly excited about a Foreman getting back into the ring more than 11 years after George’s last fight.
“I really thought we were done,” sister Natalie Foreman said. “I thought that as a family we had been through enough waiting in the dark for the phone call that says dad’s OK.”