By Terry Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
The concept of a lovable loser in sports resonates with many. The thought conjures up images of fans, with paper grocery bags over their heads, caught on film and embarrassed at the very prospect of of attending a game for their favorite team, their cellar-dweller, their 0-and-whatever last place loser. As a smile comes along with the thought, the vision, someone who enjoys the sporting side of life, can only think of one thing better than a “lovable loser.’
A lovable winner.
George Foreman is that lovable winner and his life story has been well told in a new documentary to air on EPIX tonight (Sept. 13th – 8:00pm ET). The documentary, has been produced by George Foreman Jr. who has forever chronicled the legacy of his father, Olympic Gold Medalist and former heavyweight champion of the world. The show is ably exec-produced by Gary Cohen, who gave us “Requiem for the BIG EAST,” and it is directed by Chris Perkel (Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives). Ross Hockrow did the editing and Jill Burkhart and Valerie Bishop Pearson are producers.
While Foreman’s recent relevance has been as a celebrity, an entrepreneur and spokesman for all things “Grilling,” even an aging sports fan might forget the Foreman of 1968, proudly holding his Mexico City Olympics gold medal for winning the heavyweight division over considerable competition from Cuba and Europe. One might forget his sleek, carved physique born from a tough upbringing in the 5th Ward of Houston, Texas, an area in the news recently as Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and the Gulf Coast region.
“George Foreman was a tornado that blew thorough the heavyweight division, but then, it was gone,” tv commentator excellent, Larry Merchant reminded us in the documentary.
Cohen and Foreman Jr. compiled all the great footage and highlighted it early and often in the piece, bringing back memories from Foreman’s post-Olympics visit to see President Lyndon Johnson (a fellow Texan) at The White House. Nostalgic clips from Foreman’s fight against Smoking’ Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica sets the scene, chronicling Foreman’s surprise second-round knock-out of Frazier, complete with the memorable call by the late Howard Cosell. The sight will stir the memories which are sure to send chills up a spine for any fight fan. It is reason, alone, not to miss this gem.
Of course, the “real” George Foreman story is that of an amazing comeback, at age 45 nonetheless.
“I’m closer to 50 than I am to 20,” said the legend on film, with that trademark twinkle in his eyes, teasing the very story we only thought we remembered.
The rest of the documentary does the job and takes you on that memorable ride, a wonderful, classic sports memory we all might’ve forgotten if not for for this terrific work.