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Big George Talks to Little Rocky

Updated: May 8, 2023

By Rochelle E. Brenner

In 2008, I was the first woman ever honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America – I won 1st place for column writing at a banquet in Los Angeles for my first-person account of boxing in the ring (the original article is framed at Action Karate Mt. Airy.) I got a standing ovation – comedian George Lopez handed me the award and the other big winner that night, Fighter of the Year Floyd Mayweather, posed for a picture with me.

As a result I occasionally get included in things boxing writers get to do. In this case, it was media availability with the legendary two-time Heavyweight Champion of the World and grill aficionado, the father of many Georges: George Foreman. He has a movie coming out – a documentary called Big George. They even sent me a pre-release version of it, and it was a very fine movie. The condition for getting to screen the movie before it’s released is that I don’t write a review. But here’s my mini-review - it started slow and then evolved into a profound movie with surprises and insights and a glorious ending rarely seen in boxing. And if you still aren’t convinced, Forrest Whitaker is in it. So it’s basically a perfect movie.

The first thing I noticed is I was the only woman on the call getting to ask questions.

The interview was a roundtable setup so the moderator would call our names and we would each get to ask one question via Zoom. All the reporters were in little Zoom boxes and George Foreman was in another one.

My question was OK but his answer was so so good.

“Pleasure to see you here today - interested in your work with children and youth. Boxing is a great sport. What sport do you most recommend or see as the future for kids you work with and want to inspire? What kind of advice do you have for them?”

His answer puts him in my personal Hall of Fame.

“I started the George Foreman Youth Center because someone tried to attract me to helping kids at a gym my brother worked at, and I turned my back because I said ‘forget about sports, come to church.’ These kids were arrested for robbing a Stop ‘n Go store and I felt like I had lost everything.”

Imagine the sting of that loss – not a boxing match, not a championship belt. He made the mistake of not meeting those kids where they were at, giving them an outlet and opportunity, but instead a brush-off. They wanted boxing. He offered church. They got nothing. He went on to explain the value of boxing in his life, and it resonates closely with what we do in martial arts, doesn’t it?

“I started a youth center to help kids. I didn’t care about them becoming boxers. I taught boxing. But I wanted them to become great characters for the country, not to feel that everybody was out there robbing and stealing. I taught them boxing but I really wanted to teach them to be leaders and that’s what a lot of them have become.

“Fighting means nothing. Can you stand up? Can you resist temptation? Can you overcome whatever flaw you think you have in your life? You gotta fight to do it. That’s what I was able to teach at the youth center,” he said.

In fact, I don’t write for awards or publications. I used to write for big news publications, but now I mostly write for the martial arts community, not so they will be great martial artists, but so they can stand up, resist temptation and overcome whatever flaws they have in their life.

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