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10 Rules From George Foreman On What It Takes To Reach The Top (And Stay There)

George Foreman, renowned as the second wealthiest boxer of all time, didn't find success easily. His story of resilience begins in the early challenges of his life.

Foreman, a two-time heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist, emerged from a troubled youth in Texas. After his father left when he was just 5 years old, Foreman often found himself in trouble, engaging in fights and dropping out of school at 15 with limited literacy skills.

A pivotal moment came when he was fleeing police, leading him to reconsider his life's direction. The very next day, he joined the Job Corps, inspired by a commercial featuring football legends Jimmy Brown and Johnny Unitas, who said, "If you're looking for a second chance, join the Job Corps." There, he acquired skills in bricklaying, forestry, and carpentry, and learned to read and write, sending money home to his mother each month. Boxing entered his life in the Job Corps after a challenge from peers: "I was always trying to be a tough guy and kept getting into fights," Foreman recalled. "All the guys in the day room (at Job Corps) said, 'George, you're always picking on people, bullying people; if you're so tough, why don't you become a boxer?'"

Moving to California, he met his first boxing coach and started training. Initially humiliated in an early match, he almost quit but was drawn back into the sport by a coach who provided him with boxing shoes after Foreman made up an excuse about not having any.

Foreman's boxing career swiftly ascended, winning an Olympic gold medal in 1968. However, his proud display of the American flag post-victory sparked controversy among civil rights activists. He explained his actions to Hans Massaquoi of Ebony: "I was so proud that I had won. I wanted the world to know that I was from America."

Despite adopting a surly persona post-Olympics, Foreman became heavyweight champion in 1973 by defeating Smokin' Joe Frazier. Yet, his defeat to Muhammad Ali in 1974's "Rumble in the Jungle" was a significant blow. "I lost the most wonderful position I'd had — the heavyweight title," Foreman said. "I was devastated. I couldn't live with myself, so I had to start fighting again to be a champion." After a spiritual awakening in 1977, he retired to become an evangelist and community leader, stating, "For 10 years, I never even made a fist," as he devoted himself to religious life and community service.

Financial difficulties in 1987 prompted Foreman's return to boxing, where he overcame skepticism and physical challenges to reclaim the heavyweight title at age 45, becoming the oldest heavyweight champion. His victory over Michael Moorer, despite being outmatched for much of the fight, is remembered as one of the greatest upsets in boxing history.

Following his boxing career, Foreman transformed into a successful entrepreneur and pitchman, endorsing products for major brands and making a fortune from his association with the George Foreman Grill, earning upwards of $250 million from the endorsement, making it one of the most lucrative deals in sports history.

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George Foreman shared his profound insights on resilience and overcoming adversity, offering valuable lessons for anyone facing challenges.

Look For The Positive. Even in the darkest times, opportunities can be found. Foreman saw his lowest points as chances for growth. "I think you have a major advantage when you start from the bottom because you have nowhere else to go but up," Foreman stated. "And I started from the bottom."

Create Guiding Principles. Principles form the bedrock of our beliefs and actions. Foreman's life took a positive turn after a transformative night. While evading police, he hid under a house, camouflaging himself with sewage to evade detection. Reflecting on his mother's words about not tolerating a thief in the family, he vowed to change. "I was so scared," Foreman recalled. "I realized for the first time I was a thief. I thought to myself if I can get from underneath this house and the police don't grab me, I'm never going to steal anything from anyone again...I had been on the journey of my life, and I never stole anything again because I had something I'd never had before: principles. I had a badge of principles, and I knew if I could come from that bottom, I can make it all the way to the top."

Fight Through The Tough Times. True champions are defined by their tenacity in adversity. Foreman's resolve was tested again in the boxing ring. After a rough start, he stood up and decided to fight with sheer will. "I remember there were only two left, so I thought I should get up before they all left," Foreman said. "I jumped up, and I thought I'm going to put this boxing and bobbing and weaving down for a moment and just fight this guy…I turned into a windmill and the next thing you know, I won the boxing match. I learned that sometimes, you just gotta fight. All the rules you've got to play with, and your skills are nothing. You've just got to come out and swing and fight."

Always Stick To Your Convictions. What you stand for is crucial. Foreman learned this in a life-altering moment after a tough match. He faced a near-death experience that reaffirmed his faith. "After a while, death multiplied in my conversation," Foreman recalled. "I realized I was about to die, and I didn't know what to do…I was in this dark space. Over my head, under my feet, and around me was absolutely nothing. If you multiply every sad thought you ever had in your life, that's where I was in this dump yard of nothing. I got mad…I said, I don't care if this is death, I still believe in God…that's when someone grabbed me, a hand pulled me out of nothing. I was alive in that dressing room…and I wasn't afraid anymore. I saw blood on my hand and my forehead, and I was screaming, 'Jesus Christ is coming alive in me.'" This profound experience led Foreman to retire from boxing and devote himself to ministry.

Be Humble. Arrogance can be a downfall. Foreman reflected on his overconfidence in a major fight and recognized the value of preparation and humility.

Give People Something They Want. Connect with others by meeting their needs or interests. When Foreman began street preaching, he initially failed to draw an audience until he shared his compelling boxing story. "This broke my heart," Foreman said. "After a while, I realized I'm going to make these people stop and pay attention to me." His experiences on the corner taught him the power of personal appeal and the importance of persistence.

Be Proud Of Yourself. Stand firm in your identity and beliefs, regardless of others' opinions. Foreman embraced his role and shared his message with pride.

Learn To Sell. Mastery in promoting oneself is crucial. Foreman turned criticism into an opportunity to redefine his public image, eventually leading to successful product endorsements and a significant entrepreneurial career.

Don't Destroy Someone Else To Make Yourself Look Better. Foreman chose integrity over competition, saying, "I looked at the script and said, 'Nah, I'm not going to do that.' I'm not going to tear up someone else's product just to make mine good. We're going to make it good. We're not going to destroy anything that someone else is working on to make my products the best. It's got to be the best because it is. They took my advice and said, you were right, and I said, 'No, THAT is right.'"

Be Kind. Kindness is a universal currency. Foreman realized the value of treating others well, a lesson that enriched his interactions and life.

Foreman's journey from hardship to success and back, culminating in a substantial net worth and a wealth of life lessons, exemplifies resilience and determination. His mantra of embracing principles, fighting through adversity, and holding firm convictions underscores a life well-lived and a legacy well-built. "Every day, I put my feet on the ground and be thankful for that day and happy I'm alive," Foreman said. "Because there's a possibility of me doing great things if I can just stay alive this day."

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