FAMILY BUSINESS MAGAZINE: A KNOCKOUT TRACK RECORD IN BUSINESS
By April Hall
When George Foreman III went to his dad to talk about starting his own business, the former champion boxer was not on board.
“My father didn’t help me one lick,” George III recalls. “In fact, he advised me not to do it.”
At the time, the young man had a successful boxing career of his own. George, Sr., was his trainer.
But George, Sr., had also unwittingly trained his son for something else — entrepreneurism.
Since he was old enough to carry a bag, George III worked for his dad. He said at 6 or 7, he was working on the family ranch, helping at training camp and at 9 or 10, was driving the car to follow his dad during runs.
At 20, he became his father’s travel companion, logging 50,000 frequent flyer miles in a single year. He would fly from Pepperdine, where he studied business, to Houston commercially and then board a private jet with his father to wherever George, Sr., had a meeting, speech, press event, etc.
After a series of changes to his organization, George, Sr., needed a new business manager. George III, then 21, got the job.
He transferred to Rice University and changed his major to kinesiology — he knew he was getting an on-the-job education in business.
George, Sr., was already having success with the George Foreman Grill and George III helped negotiate a five-year extension with Meineke (the former boxer was the company’s celebrity endorser).
“That started my life,” George III says. Fast forward seven years: George III had gained and lost 90 pounds, built his own reputation as a boxer and had an idea for his own business. He wanted to build boxing gyms, EverybodyFights, around the country. Members would be able to attend classes based on boxing, as well as have access to punching bags and a ring.
George, Sr., wanted his son to keep boxing, to continue working with him, but George III says he, like his father, is entrepreneurial-minded. And after watching his dad build his brand, George III was ready to do the same.
“He didn’t help me, he fully discouraged me,” George III says. “After a while he just got to the point, ‘I don’t want to talk about it, but I hope it works out for you.’”
There will be six EverybodyFights locations when the Philadelphia facility opens in January. George III also plans to franchise the concept while keeping some corporate-owned locations. His father has come around in helping him.
“Now he’s on my board,” he says of his dad. George III has installed a board of directors for his company. He also talks to his father “every single day. I must tell you, insights I gathered from him — I wouldn’t be able to get them anywhere else.”
Having the same name doesn’t hurt either. The former heavyweight champ did not only name George III after himself, but also his six brothers.
Starting out, if there were any credit issues for the boys, it was likely it would affect them all as George Edward Foreman, many of whom lived at the same address at the time. That has improved over time.
But having his father’s name has only been a benefit, he says.
“When you have a parent who has been a hero to a lot of people, a competitor, a comedian. People feel like they know him,” George III says. “They think they know me. So it takes me six months to build my reputation instead of six years. I’m mostly maintaining the good feeling they have toward me.
“I know a lot of people who have famous mothers or fathers don’t like that, but I think they’re being short-sighted. I’ll take that all day.”