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Running back fights for his yards

PE.com, September 19th, 2007

Interact: How well do you know two-time heavyweight champion George Foreman? Take our trivia quiz and find out.

REDLANDS - Just because he's partial to hitting holes instead of heavy bags doesn't mean George Foreman IV didn't inherit many of the traits that made his father a successful boxer.

Toughness? He played with a broken nose most of last season. Charisma? Even Big George says he's a charmer. Ambition? He traveled 1,500 miles for the chance to play football at the University of Redlands. Competitiveness? The last time he and his younger brother played pick-up basketball, the game got so violent his father, of all people, had to break it up.

Foreman, who chose Redlands instead of walking on at the Division I level, cherishes the tight bond he has with his dad.

"He's a great mentor, a great father," said the younger Foreman, a sophomore known as "G4" to his Redlands teammates. "Even now that we're so far apart, we stay up-to-date on each other's lives every day. We have a great relationship. He's always there for me."

Of the 10 Foreman children -- five named George and a sixth Georgette -- George IV may have the most in common with his father. Not only does Big George regularly call or text his son with fatherly advice or inspirational pregame messages, he also flies to Southern California a few times a year to attend football games.

"Sometimes when I'm watching him, I can see myself written all over his face," the elder Foreman said in a phone interview from Texas. "We're best friends. We've always been able to talk about anything."

As the son of a former heavyweight champion who became a national icon as a lovable grill pitchman, George IV has grown accustomed to a jet-setting lifestyle. He crisscrossed the nation throughout his childhood, filming commercials with his dad, attending big fights and hobnobbing with boxing luminaries such as Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard.

George IV never showed any interest in pursuing a career in the ring, but he demonstrated a boxer's toughness in all facets of life.

If he got scraped up playing football or riding his bike as a kid, he'd sneak inside the family's suburban Houston ranch home and slap a bandage on the wound so his parents wouldn't know how severe it was. And each summer he and his father endured numerous painful spills teaching their stable of yearlings how to behave with a rider in the saddle.

"We'd get thrown off so many times I'd be sore for weeks," the younger Foreman said. "It makes it a lot easier facing a big linebacker when you've looked a horse in the face knowing he's going to throw you all around."

When George IV transferred to Hargrave High in Huffman, Texas, midway through his sophomore year, he soon established himself as one of suburban Houston's premier running backs. He quickly won over his new teammates with his effortless charm and unparalleled work ethic, helping Hargrave reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

"They still tell stories about how hard his stiff-arms were and how many people he'd run over in practice," said younger brother George Foreman V, now a junior at Hargrave. "Even now, I never stop hearing about it."

Tales of George IV's accomplishments eventually reached Redlands coach Mike Maynard, who recalls being dazzled by a highlight video showcasing the muscular 205-pound tailback.

Initially Maynard worried George IV might possess the air of entitlement typical to celebrity kids. One call to his high school coach, however, helped alleviate those concerns.

"I told him that he didn't carry himself like he was above anyone else," Hargrave coach Mike McEachern said. "You would never know he was George Foreman's kid unless you knew his name."

George IV harbored Division I aspirations, but he lacked the speed and explosiveness to land a scholarship offer. Though coaches at Rice and Southern Methodist invited him to walk on, he chose to attend Redlands because of the city's small-town charm and Maynard's contagious enthusiasm.

"We're lucky to have him," Maynard said. "If there's a harder worker in our program, I don't know who it would be. He's the first one at practice, and the last one to leave."

In his two years at Redlands, George IV has earned playing time on special teams and as a backup tailback. He rushed for a career-high 104 yards on 12 carries this past Saturday in a 42-14 victory over Haskell Indian Nations University.

Occasionally, his teammates still make Foreman Grill jokes or rib him about the George-George-George thing, but they've long since gotten over the curiosity of playing alongside a celebrity's son.

"We work so hard together that we've had no choice to get to know each other as we are," Foreman said. "We work out together, we run hills, we throw up. We've gotten so close that names become irrelevant."

Reach Jeff Eisenberg at 951-368-9357

or at jeisenberg@PE.com

Know your Georges

George Foreman "Big George": America's lovable "Grill King" and the oldest man to hold boxing's heavyweight title

George Jr. "Junior": Played basketball in college; now helps run his dad's business endeavors

George III "Monk": Graduated from Rice with a degree in sports management; now helps run his dad's business endeavors

George IV "Big Wheel": Plays tailback at the University of Redlands and plans to major in either politics or business

George V "Red": Plays junior varsity football at Hargrave High in Huffman, Texas

George VI "Joe": At 8 years old, he's the youngest of the Foreman clan

 


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