In his youth, George Foreman was a miserable bully with a chip on his shoulder. But, then George got into boxing and became the World Heavyweight Champion. He had it all...but he still wasn't happy or at peace until he met the Lord. Watch his true Christian testimony and read his inspirational life story.
His conversion happened on March 17, 1977. Just a few days previously, life had been looking good. He was on the comeback trail after having lost his title to Muhammad Ali a few years before. And now he was ready to fight a big fight against Jimmy Young, one that would be a set up for a rematch title fight. And yet, the bad man felt empty. For some strange reason, while standing on the balcony of his hotel room, he began a prayer to a God he says he wasn't sure existed: "God, maybe you can take my life and use it. Maybe you can use me as something more than a boxer."
On that same March 17,1977, he lost that all-important bout against Young. He hit bottom.
Several years ago, he spoke with David Mainse on 100 Huntley Street about that day and his life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ:
"I had just fought a fight with Jimmy Young...just a decision, it wasn't a tough fight or anything. After I found out I had lost, I went back to the dressing room...just a normal cooling off. And let me tell you business picked up for me there! I had always prayed to God. I believed there was probably a God somewhere; and I'd always said, 'No matter what, everybody got their own religion as long as they treat people right it's OK.' But when I left that dressing room, I was screaming the name of Jesus."
After the loss, he had entered the dressing room and began pacing up and down, obsessed with thoughts of his future and about his relationship with God. He was obsessed with the thought of death. This inner conflict and suddenly wrenching turmoil left him lying on the floor where God gave him a series of visions:
"I was snatched out of my body; and I don't know if you've been to the sea...as far off as you can see there's nothing but water. Well as far off as I could see there was nothing but people coming out, in something like a trap. And I know this place was hell; but I said 'I don't care, if this was death I still believe in God.' Then I was snatched right out of that place and taken to another place of life and back into my body. I started screaming 'That's all right I'm dying for God.' And so as I was sitting there I was snatched into all kinds of religions and brought back into the dressing room. I didn't know what was goin' on!"
Mainse asked, "So you actually thought you were dying?"
"I saw death...I saw it! I mean I had built my whole life on real estate...what I had in the bank; and I saw it all like a big joke. If you stick a match to a piece of paper, for a moment it stands up after it's burned; then you touch it, and it crumbles. I saw the whole world crumble behind me, and all I had was nothing. I had to leave all of it in the world. I couldn't even tell my mother 'bye,' I was dead! I was dead! And I started crying saying 'Lord I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die, I can still box,'...and I was talking to God...'I can still box!'
God said 'I don't want your money, I want you!' "
Foreman's friends and trainers got him up off of the floor and onto a training table where the sensations of meeting Jesus and feeling the pains of His death continued:
"So as I laid on the table, I'm coming back into my body; and I told one of my doctors to move his hand because the thorns are making me bleed on his hand. And blood started running down my face. And I told the other one to move his hand because on my hands and on my feet there was blood. All of the places where Jesus had blood when He died.
"I never had believed in Jesus; I wasn't going to go for it. I never would have, but let me tell you Jesus is alive. And I started screaming 'Jesus Christ come to life!' And I walked out of that room...jumped off of that table...and headed for a cold shower 'cause that's the last thing you would ask me to do after a fight.
"I started screaming words like 'hallelujah I've been born again.' They thought I was crazy and hurt, so they took me to the hospital. They thought I was losing my mind. And they ran all kinda tests on me for two or three days, and nothin' was wrong with me. But I saw the glory of God...I saw it! And let me tell you that Jesus is alive...there's a living God, and I didn't even know it. I was wondering about it before, but now I'm not wondering. I know! And I thank God because there's a lot of people who think for sure...and some think maybe, or maybe not. But I know. God...I don't know...for some reason touched me, an old sinner. There's a lot of clean men out in the world doing everything right, and He showed me that there's a living God.
"Since then I've been telling everybody! I don't care where you come from or what you're doing, stop it and learn about God and the Bible.
"And why God did this to me, I don't know; but I just praise Him every day. I dropped everything I was doing to tell the whole world that Jesus Christ is alive. God took me all over the country fighting, and I was just trying to exalt George Foreman. Now I'm going all over to try and tell them about Jesus"
George Foreman became on ordained minister and for ten years left boxing to preach the Gospel. He returned to the ring on March 9th, 1987 to raise money for the youth center he had started in Houston, Texas. Foreman won the WBC heavy weight championship in 1994 at the age of 45, becoming the oldest man in history to capture the title. He's still active in and around the ring today, most recently as a cable TV boxing color commentator.