George Foreman III Breaks Down What He Learned Watching Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali – This article originally appeared on BostInno on June 9th, 2016.
Written by Alex E. Weaver
George Foreman III is a lot of things aside from the son of a two-time heavyweight boxing legend. He’s an entrepreneur, an athlete, a community builder and a businessman, managing his father’s empire for years. But training with his father from a young age – both in the ways of boxing and in business – afforded the owner of Seaport boxing gym and fitness center The Club by Georgeman III certain privileges, not the least among them getting the chance to spend considerable time in the presence of icons like the late Muhammad Ali.
“I didn’t know him well, just met him a few times,” Foreman told me via email. “But I have plenty of stories to share from the point of view of being my father’s son, a boxing junky, and a pro-fighter. And also from knowing many of his opponents, trainers, etc.”
Here, Foreman III shares some of the life and business lessons he learned from Ali, who famously fought his father in The Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa, Zaire, in 1974.
Alex Weaver: What lessons can an entrepreneur draw from Ali’s life?
George Forman III: Untold on unsold. Even before Ali was the champion, he would always proclaim himself as “The Greatest” and “Beautiful,” then he would go on to explain WHY. Fifty years later, present day children still know him as “The Greatest.” He was a marketer, brander and publicist all in one. Too many entrepreneurs get lost in developing their product or service and forget to master the process of selling it. Furthermore, when they sell, they focus too much time on talking about the attributes, and not enough time talking about WHY a person needs their product or services. When you are trying to make a name for yourself, you’ve got to make a bold statement, tell the consumer why they need it, then do whatever you need to do to back your words up. Ali had a gift for this.
And only sell a product or service that you sincerely believe in. You must believe in what it is you are actually selling. When you believe in your product, you will never lack the motivation to sell it. And if your consumer senses your sincere belief, they will be more likely to buy it. Ali’s constant verbal affirmation of himself as “The Greatest” developed and maintained this belief. And 50 years later, people are still buying it.
AW: What lessons can an athlete draw from Ali?
GFIII: That the game they play is just that … a “game.” There is so much more to life. From the beginning of their careers athletes should always be thinking about what their life means aside from their sport. Angelo Dundee. Ali’s trainer, always insisted that it was Ali’s character that made him so great. Ali always strived to be more than just a boxer. To our country he was an activist, to the press he was a poet, to children he was a magician, on TV he was a comedian – he danced, he even recorded an album with Sam Cooke, a true entertainer. Because of this he is now arguably the most recognizable person in the world. This didn’t come from being the “greatest boxer,” this came from being the greatest human being to ever put on gloves.
AW: How did Ali inspired you personally?
GFIII: Bravery. I think the definition of a hero is someone who willingly accepts impossible odds and plays to win anyway. Ali was genuinely heroic. As an athlete he would never shy away from the toughest challenges, even if it was seemingly impossible for him to win. I will never be a hero, I will never be Ali, but I hope that when I’m faced with the impossible, I can respond with his type of bravery.
AW: How would you describe Ali’s boxing style?
Ali actually was never considered great at fundamentals, but his God-given gifts, and acumen for the science and strategy of boxing, allowed him to achieve success while breaking the “rules.” Naturally, Ali was a pure “boxer,” which means he would move a lot and focus on volume of punches to score points. He had unmatched thinking ability. Because of his strategic prowess, amazing speed, reflexes and overall athletic ability, he was an excellent counter puncher, and this is what he is known for boxing-wise. He was an artist who did everything with style and flash and always strived to win in spectacular fashion. There is no boxer alive who doesn’t covet the ability to box like Ali in his prime. He was a true savant.
AW: Any stories of Ali really stand out to you?
GFIII: Although he called himself “The Greatest,” whenever he referred to Sugar Ray Robinson, he always addressed him as ‘The king, the master, my idol.” Even the greatest had a hero.