Monday, November 7, 2011

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 1994: George Foreman becomes oldest heavyweight champ

November 5: 1994: George Foreman becomes oldest heavyweight champ 

On this day in 1994, George Foreman, age 45, becomes boxing's oldest heavyweight champion when he defeats 26-year-old Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their WBA fight in Las Vegas. More than 12,000 spectators at the MGM Grand Hotel watched Foreman dethrone Moorer, who went into the fight with a 35-0 record. Foreman dedicated his upset win to "all my buddies in the nursing home and all the guys in jail."

Born in 1949 in Marshal, Texas, Foreman had a troubled childhood and dropped out of high school. Eventually, he joined President Lyndon Johnson's Jobs Corps work program and discovered a talent for boxing. "Big George," as he was nicknamed, took home a gold medal for the U.S. at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica, after winning his first 37 professional matches, 34 by knockout, Foreman KO'd "Smokin'" Joe Frazier after two rounds and was crowned heavyweight champ. At 1974's "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasha, Zaire, the younger, stronger Foreman suffered a surprising loss to underdog Muhammad Ali and was forced to relinquish his championship title. Three years later, Big George morphed from pugilist into preacher, when he had a religious experience in his dressing room after losing a fight. He retired from boxing, became an ordained minister in Houston and founded a youth center.

A decade later, the millions he'd made as a boxer gone, Foreman returned to the ring at age 38 and staged a successful comeback. When he won his second heavyweight title in his 1994 fight against Moorer, becoming the WBA and IBF champ, Foreman was wearing the same red trunks he'd had on the night he lost to Ali.

Foreman didn't hang onto the heavyweight mantle for long. In March 1995, he was stripped of his WBA title after refusing to fight No. 1 contender Tony Tucker, and he gave up his IBF title in June 1995 rather than fight a rematch with Axel Schulz, whom he'd narrowly beat in a controversial judges' decision in April of that same year. Foreman's last fight was in 1997; he lost to Shannon Biggs. He retired with a lifetime record of 76-5.

Outside of the boxing ring, Foreman, who has five sons, all named George, and five daughters, has become enormously wealthy as an entrepreneur and genial TV pitchman for a variety of products, including the hugely popular George Foreman Grill.

American Revolution
1775 : Washington condemns Guy Fawkes festivities

1895 : George Selden patents gas-powered car

Civil War
1862 : President Lincoln removes General McClellan

Cold War
1968 : Richard Nixon elected president

2009 : Army major kills 13 people in Fort Hood shooting spree

1991 : Philippines struggles with severe floodingd

General Interest
1556 : Mughal victory assures Akbar's ascension
1605 : King James learns of gunpowder plot
1912 : Wilson wins landslide victory
1930 : An American Nobel Prize in Literature
1990 : Jewish extremist assassinated in New York

2007 : Writers strike stalls production of TV shows, movies

1893 : Willa Cather starts writing for the Nebraska State Journal

1938 : Samuel Barber's Adagio For Strings receives its world premiere on NBC radio

Old West
1862 : 300 Santee Sioux sentenced to hang in Minnesota

1977 : George W. Bush marries Laura Welch in Midland, Texas

1994 : George Foreman becomes oldest heavyweight champ in history

Vietnam War
1968 : Nixon wins presidential election
1970 : U.S. combat deaths down

World War I
1914 : Battle of Tanga ends in defeat for British colonial troops

World War II
1940 : FDR re-elected president

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