Book Review by Raymond M. Wong
Foreman, George and Abraham, Ken. God In My Corner: A Spiritual Memoir. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson, 2007. Print.
At one time, George Foreman went into the boxing ring filled with hatred and wanted to literally kill his opponent with his fists. He stared directly at the other fighter with anger in his eyes before the fight and went after him once the bell rang. The intent was to destroy the other man and Foreman did just that on many occasions, winning the heavyweight championship by pummeling Joe Frazier in 1973. A few fights after his epic defeat at the hands of Muhammad Ali in Zaire, Foreman fought Jimmy Young in 1977 and lost a decision on the judges’ scorecards. Then something remarkable happened.
After the fight, Foreman collapsed in the dressing room and felt as if he had died. He awoke a changed man, one who experienced Jesus Christ in his heart and discovered a purpose in his existence. From that pivotal moment, Foreman was transformed and dedicated his life to God. He forgave the former manager who had stolen his money and his most prized possession: the boxing gloves Foreman wore in winning his first heavyweight championship bout. Foreman contacted people he had hurt and those he begrudged and tried to repair past relationships. He became a pastor and ministered to anyone he came in contact with about God. He started a youth center to give children and teens a place to have fun and receive his guidance. Instead of the menacing glare he used to intimidate boxers, he flashed a genuine and soulful smile at the people he met.
His perspective changed. He went from a fighter with unimaginable wealth yet who felt empty and unhappy inside to a man who touched people with his spirit and energy. He went from being an angry and vengeful man to one who felt blessed to be alive to help others. His whole persona took a joyful and optimistic turn: “Every day, whether you realize it or not, you’re spying out the land where you live and where you work, looking for either the best or the worst. Your attitude at that moment will be determined by what you see. If you’re only looking at problems, you’ll become angry, depressed, and ungrateful. But if you’ll search for and find something good in every situation, you’ll discover a secret that few people know—happiness is always attached to seeing the pleasant side of circumstances.”
Because he wanted to continue funding the youth center he founded, Foreman began boxing again in his forties. He trained with diligence and the steadfast belief that God meant for him to be world champion again. He encountered ridicule and disappointment but he persevered and eventually won the boxing heavyweight title again at the age of forty-five by defeating Michael Moorer. Along the way, he never went into the ring angry and he never attempted to hurt his opponents. In one instance when a boxer had lost his mouthpiece after being hit by a hard Foreman punch, Foreman refused to continue boxing until the fighter was given an opportunity to retrieve and insert his mouthpiece.
Even as a warrior in the ring, Foreman acted with integrity and compassion. Indeed he was a changed man.