- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Finally, Foreman poked his head up to look around. He saw St. Lucia becoming a brown speck, and the crew, two half-naked Rastafarians, spreading marijuana out on the deck to dry. The fundamentalist in him wanted to snarl at their dirty nakedness and drugs. The human being in him wanted to embrace them. Something inside him began to melt away.
Eight months later George Foreman sat on the grass next to the pond on his 200-acre ranch in Marshall. His battered boots made a V for his fishing rod to rest in as he patiently adjusted the reel. Then he lifted the rod and zinged a baited hook into the water, near the fleet of honking geese. His 16 horses were spread across the pasture behind him, and his little partner, Reddie—a sheepdog trapped in a poodle's body—made mad barking rushes at the horses when they came too close.
The bass weren't biting, but Foreman didn't care. He was explaining how the experience in St. Lucia had changed him.
"The people who helped me were ones I used to call devils," he said. "The Rastafarians were sitting there with drugs. But they all cried with me and protected me. It hit me—converted or not, people are the best creation I've ever seen. I wouldn't trade the human race for nothing, whether they're holding Bibles or not. Before I was so tucked away into religion, all I could see in other people was a threat to it. Now I don't want to share Heaven with no angels—just people.
"We're all like blind men on a corner—we got to learn to trust people, or we'll never cross the street. I've come to find out love is allowing yourself to be weak and vulnerable and hurt. I used to think that was weakness, even after I'd become a preacher. All those women that were leaving me were just trying to get me to say 'I love you' like I really meant it, instead of just giving them things.
"Now I've found a lady, and I'm practicing giving myself before I'm married again. Even if you're a preacher you've got to hold her hand and sneak kisses. If I last 10 years with a wife I'll kiss her and buy her flowers every day. Probably have to buy me a greenhouse."
Foreman is finally coming out of hibernation, accepting awards and requests for personal appearances. He is on the board of directors of a company selling dialysis machines; he visits the patients suffering from kidney failure and urges them not to give up. "I feel so good, it's time for me to go out," he said recently. "I don't want to make a big deal about my name, but since the day I laid in that van in St. Lucia, thinking, 'Man, don't they know I'm George Foreman,' I don't mind taking advantage of it to help people anymore. I don't even mind talking boxing if people want.
"I want to live to be 144, so old there won't be a pair of dentures that fit my mouth, no double-clutch hearing aid that'll help me, so old I'll have lost all my weight and I'll hit the ground like a piece of cotton. I want to use up everything—don't want to donate nothing to science. If you live, you can outlive any problem. I don't fear death. I just love life."
Foreman spends most of his life in two houses, an $81,000 suburban home in Humble, just north of Houston, and the ranch in Marshall, a four-hour drive away, where he sleeps on a simple mattress on top of a box spring, which rests on the floor. His fishing boat is a rusted old can with a long tree limb for a paddle. In the only picture he shows visitors of himself as a boxer, he's on his way down with Ali standing over him.
He lives comfortably, but not extravagantly, off the monthly paycheck he began receiving last January from the $800,000 trust fund he created while he was boxing. Freeda and George III live with him part of the year.