While legendary boxer George Foreman reached the top during his illustrious career, he first he had to navigate his way around challenges and hardships.
The renowned American boxer had to channel his anger and overcome poverty in order to become an Olympic Gold medallist as well as a World Heavyweight champion.
His journey to the sporting summit is depicted in Netflix’s new sports drama, “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World”.
The biopic also reveals how a near-death experience took him from the boxing ring to the pulpit, and how he came out of retirement to help his family and church when they were facing financial hardships.
“Big George Foreman” also features a star-studded cast. Khris Davis, who has also starred in “Judas and the Black Messiah” as well as “Malik in Space Jam: A New Legacy”, plays the lead role.
Meanwhile, acclaimed actor Forest Whitaker plays his trainer Doc Broadus and Sonja Sohn from “The Wire” is George’s mother Nancy in the movie.
The film is directed by George Tillman Jr, who worked on “Soul Food” and “Men of Honor”, and also produced the four films in the “Barbershop” series.
“Big George Foreman” is an inspirational movie based on Foreman’s life and career. The story begins with Foreman as a child in Houston, Texas, living with his siblings and his religious mother.
The film shows how, even at a young age, he struggled with anger issues and often had violent outbursts.
His behavioural issues continue into adulthood, when he barely evades arrest for mugging. He then decides to turn his life around.
He joins the Job Corps, a programme administered by the US government which offers free education and vocational training to youngsters.
There, he meets Job Corps' chairperson Doc Broadus, a boxing trainer, who encourages Foreman to take up boxing and to channel his rage into the sport.
His talent begins to shine through and, after only a year of boxing, Foreman wins the boxing gold medal for the US at the 1968 Summer Olympics.
This newfound success sees him move to California, where he begins to train with former boxing champions Dick Sadler (played by Dwayne Barnes) and Archie Moore (played by Lawrence Gilliard jr).
Foreman’s career continues to flourish and he goes on to become the heavyweight champion, defeating Joe Frazier in 1973.
Unfortunately, fame goes to his head. He begins to spend lavishly and cheats regularly on his then wife, Paula.
At this stage of his career, Foreman is also heavily taunted by Muhammad Ali, to whom he loses his belt in 1974.
He continues to be mocked by Ali, suffers more boxing losses, fires his trainers and gets a divorce.
Foreman faces even more challenges, including losing to Jimmy Young in 1977. He also experiences a near-death experience when he collapses from exhaustion.
He decides to commit his life to God and retires from boxing and becomes a full-time preacher.
Foreman remarries again, starts a family and opens a youth community centre.
But tribulation strikes yet again when the centre’s financial difficulties places it in danger of being closed down.
This prompts a reluctant Foreman to start boxing again and he sets out to reignite his career.
Fuelled by positivity instead of rage, Foreman manages to win several fights, pay off his debts and reopen the centre.
He also reclaims his title as heavyweight champion of the world after defeating Michael Moorer. At 45, Foreman went on to become the oldest man to achieve this feat, after losing the title 20 years before.
The movie’s epilogue also shares that Foreman became close friends with Ali, before his death in June 2016.
Now 74, Foreman continues to preach at his church and run his youth centre. He is also an entrepreneur and is renowned for the George Foreman Grill.
“Big George Foreman” joins other recently released and widely successful sporting content on Netflix such as the ”Beckham“ documentary and ”The Last Dance“, a docu-series which chronicles the rise of superstar basketball player Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s.
The widespread interest in the likes of the Disney + series “Welcome to Wrexham”, which focuses on Hollywood superstars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney who bought the then struggling Welsh football club, as well as Amazon Prime’s “All or Nothing” series, shows just how in-vogue the behind the scenes of the sporting world has become.
This type of content has become acclaimed as a source of motivation for people from all walks of life, to overcome challenges and, just like their sports icons, rise to the top of their own game.
∎ “Big George Foreman” is currently streaming on Netflix.