‘Big George Foreman’ recounts the incredible story of George Foreman’s life and career and the many ups and downs he persevered through. The film focuses on his rise as a star in the boxing world and his quick success, marked by winning an Olympic gold medal and the world heavyweight championship with the help of his coach, Doc Broadus. This completely turned around his life, and from being a penniless young man, he became a very rich man. But then, one day, George Foreman left boxing to become a preacher. In the movie, this takes place after Foreman has a health scare following a match. What happened to him? Did he have a heart attack? Let’s find out.
Did George Foreman Suffer a Heart Attack?
According to George Foreman, he nearly died in 1977 after being defeated by Jimmy Young. This was almost three years after he lost the match with Muhammad Ali in 1974. Technically, Foreman was never declared dead and didn’t have a heart attack. Reportedly, he suffered from a concussion and heatstroke and was in the ICU for a day. The next day, however, he checked himself out and decided to leave boxing. At that time, he was 28 years old.
Over the years, Foreman has talked about his near-death experience, which pulled him away from boxing and to life as a preacher. Reportedly, following the loss to Jimmy Young, which was the second time Foreman had ever been defeated, he vomited and felt very strange. “I had that (near-death) experience in a dressing room. I had a vision I was dead and alive again. And I was hopeless – the most hopeless thing I’ve ever been in, the most depressing, scary thing. I was gone, and out of nowhere, I just got mad and said: ‘I don’t care if this is death; I still believe there is a god.’ And when I said that, I was snatched out of this hopelessness, and I was alive again in the dressing room. They had literally picked me up off the floor… I started screaming it. And until this day, I still scream Jesus Christ has come alive in me,” he said.
Foreman grew up in a Christian household but wasn’t very religious. On the topic of his success, he focused on his hard work and never gave much thought to the role God may or may not have played in his life. However, on that fateful day in 1977, everything changed for him. He “In the dressing room, I was walking back and forth to cool off. Then, in a split second, I was fighting for my life. In a split second, I saw death around me, and in my hand and forehead, I felt Jesus was coming alive, then I saw blood. It scared me; just the smell of death never leaves you. I had to say goodbye to my mother and children,” he said.
At that time, Foreman claims he was thrust back into consciousness by a giant hand of God, and suddenly he was alive again. “[I] fought eight men to get into the shower. I started screaming, ‘Jesus Christ has come alive in me’ after I saw blood on my head and hands. … They couldn’t stop me. I started kissing everybody in the dressing room. I tried to make a break for the door. They said, ‘George, you don’t have clothes on.’ They had to hold me down. … I got a second chance to live.”
That day, Foreman left boxing to become a preacher and has never experienced a lapse in his faith again. The film captures that moment in his story, and he hopes the audience takes it away as the most important part of the film. “The most important thing I’d like for the people who go to the movie to take out is that there is hope. … There’s a living God. And I’m proof of it. That’s all – forget about the boxing and the winning and the losing and all of that. Faith in God is what that movie is about,” he said. Considering all this, we can say that Foreman didn’t have a heart attack, though it can be considered a health scare monumental enough to leave a lasting impact on him.