Saturday, May 26, 2007

George the First on warp speed

WHAT'S AN OLD MAN like George Foreman taking these days? If the Ol' Columnist knew his secret he'd be out there peddling the product and making a billion or two on the weekends.
The last time, actually late August 2006, I wrote a column wondering whether the gigantic former world heavyweight champion turned preacher was going to climb back into the ring as he approached 57, 58, 59, or was it 60 years of age? After all another champ, Evander Holyfield, has been collecting more than a few bucks, marketing his aging body against those notorious bums of the month, which seem to number in the thousands.
As I wrote last year, George the First had collected a version of the heavy crown at the age of 45. And then he began turning up on TV as an advertising pitchman for everything from grills to advanced cleaning products, tending his ranch in the Piney Woods of Marshall, Texas and a sought-after motivational speaker. Of course, his speaking engagements included the board of regents session at Pepperdine University, the Las Vegas Labor Conference and the Real Estate Wealth Expo.
It would appear there was little time for anything else, including another comeback.
But in the past few days, Reverend George has sought to conquer new fields.
Instead of snoozing in the pulpit, he started pushing his latest book, God in My Corner: A Spiritual Memoir from Thomas Nelson.
"(The book) tells not only the life story of George, but more importantly, it tells how God has been behind the scenes of every part of his life," reads an explanation from the publisher, "from a boyhood marked with scrapes with the law, to Olympian gold medalist, to two-time heavyweight champion of the world, to father of a family of ten, to ordained minister, to founder of The George Foreman Youth Community Center, to successful businessman."
Kevin Jackson in The Christian Post wrote that besides the Today Show, Foreman appeared on Hannity & Colmes, the Sean Hannity Show, Janet Parshall's America and Fox Across America.
And while promoting his book, which expanded about his near-death experience after his loss to Jimmy Young and how God "called him to change his life and way," another startling revelation came to the forefront. In it George claims his water was drugged before he lost to Muhammad Ali in their 1974 Rumble In The Jungle at Zaire.
On ESPN, Foreman said his water had a medicine-like taste "as if someone had spiked it to weaken it" was the way he worded it. He lost to Ali by an eighth-round KO.
Although the "medicine claim" was included in God in My Corner, Big George has never blamed it for the Zaire defeat, even saying "It wasn't a fixed fight. I got beat fair and square."
And just after reading a ton of reviews about George's book, I decided to wind down this column and go onto another subject such as Sunday's Indianapolis 500.
So I begin to go down the list of drivers and even their owners and then came the ultimate shocker: George Foreman, yes that George Foreman, and his sons, all named George, are co-owners of the Indy Racing League's Panther team.
In a Sports Illustrated story, George Foreman Jr. and brother George III serve as vice-presidents of George Foreman Enterprises, the marketing company founded by their father, according to SI.
This is what George the First told SI: "I've been blessed throughout my life to partner with winning organizations. Now that I am part of Panther Racing, I am looking forward to being part of a winning team."
Incidentally, Panther and Reverend George and the team's co-owner John Barnes, have three cars in Sunday's chase -- Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and John Andretti.
If I were a betting man, I'd lay down a few shekels on all three. After all anything with Foreman's name attached to it is money in the bank.
GRETZKY ALSO IN THE INDY 'FIELD': Wayne Gretzky, the former NHL superstar with the Edmonton Oilers and now head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, will not be driving in Sunday's event, but his name will be prominent, nevertheless; for he and his group could benefit when Ryan Briscoe starts seventh in the 33-car field. Briscoe drives for the Luczo Dragon Racing team, which has pledged to donate a bundle of their winnings to a number of charities, including Gretzky's Foundation.
FINALLY, SOME NIXON QUOTES (From The Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader): "I never made the (football) team ... I was not heavy enough to play the line, not fast enough to play halfback and not smart enough to be a quarterback." ... "Once you get into this great stream of history, you can't get out."

No comments: