PHILASUN: George Foreman III to open a new boxing gym, January 2019
This article originally appeared on PHILASUN—
By Raymond Jones
As George Foreman III walked through the lobby of 1900 Market Street, people greeted him warmly with a familiar, yet unfamiliar hello. That kind of greeting that asks, “Where do I know you from?”
Foreman is used to the double-takes and sudden stares he encounters in cities he’s never been to or visited once or twice. Tall and resembling a younger version of his father, former world heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman Sr., Foreman III was approachable and at ease when he recently visited the build-out space in Center City for his new boxing gym, EverybodyFights Philadelphia.
“I don’t know if it is the city that infuses the fighters or the fighters that infuses in the city. But Philadelphia is a great sports and boxing town,” said Foreman.
Foreman’s concept for EverybodyFights Philadelphia is unique — provide a boutique gym with old school boxing techniques and spirit. In addition, his boutique gym will provide a holistic wellness focus — yoga, Pilates and a physical therapy plan for athletes recovering from injury.
“Most of our clients are women. We want them to feel comfortable and to know that they are going to get the maximum in the latest fitness techniques,” Foreman said. “We also want the fighters from the neighborhood who are training for the next fight to know that they can come in here, work out and get prepared.”
Foreman has a reverence for Philadelphia’s fighters. His father often talked about the reputation Philadelphia’s fighters have across the country, primarily because of their ‘never retreat, tough, toe-to-toe’ fighting style represented in things like Joe Frazier’s left hook to Muhammad Ali’s jaw on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden, for example.
It was also a style that George Foreman Sr. got to see up close, Foreman said.
“So my father is working out in Philadelphia in his early days as a pro, running with [North Philadelphia middleweight] Benny Briscoe,” Foreman reflected. “Briscoe was a great middleweight and my dad, who was much bigger, obviously was a heavyweight. As they trained, Briscoe was talking about a guy he had a personal problem with and that he was going to beat his ‘you know what’ when he found him. My father, not really knowing Briscoe too well, just mumbled. Apparently, Briscoe took offense to my father’s response and told my father. ‘If you have a problem, I‘ll beat your a** too!’ That’s the essence of a Philadelphia fighter. Tough, confident with plenty of heart and a determination to win. Just like the people who live in this city.”
Foreman chose Philadelphia for his gym because the boxing culture runs deep with champions and fans. His formula for a successful gym is a vibrant fight culture, plus new school/old school tactics equaling an active gym membership.
Philadelphia is the seventh location Foreman is investing in, along with his partner. His gym in Boston was open for a mere two years before it was named “Best Gym” in 2014. With a demographic of over 70 percent women, 30 percent men, and an average of 600 members at each location, Foreman is excited about the potential of the Philadelphia gym, which is scheduled to open at 1900 Market Street in January 2019.
Foreman will make the training realistic in his gym, using fight scenes from actual pro fights projected on a screen, then will have the trainers meticulously dissect them and teach the gym members boxing moves based on what they just witnessed on video.
“We wanted to be able provide the member with a full boxing experience,” Foreman said. “As you complete the exercise routines, you move up to the next level. From the conservative member who just wants to be able to stay in shape, we have that course. For the person who wants to be able to say that they have earned enough credentials to be determined as an amateur fighter, we have that experience as well.”
In the cavernous, 12,000-square-foot space in the lower level of 1900 Market Street, Foreman paints vivid pictures of his vision. He imagines the floor of his fully active gym, complete with the rat-a-tat sequences of a speed bag machine, a row of stationary cycles, state-of-the-art yoga space, and several lines of heavy bags for ‘would-be’ pugilists to practice on.
Foreman has put his heart, soul and the experiences as a former pro fighter and former manager of his father’s career in his business development plans. He talks about the time he realized that his father was working hard just to keep the lights on, literally, in his own gym back in Houston, Texas. Foreman vowed then that if he had the opportunity to open his own gym, he would learn from that close-up, ‘devil in the details’, trial and error approach to business.
George Foreman III’s eye on details and collaboration without sacrificing the spirit of the Philadelphia fighter art form, will be a unique alternative in the same neighborhood that features the Philadelphia Sports Club in the next block.