Is Paula Foreman Based on George Foreman’s Ex-Wife?

Based on the life of the eponymous Olympic gold medalist and two-time world heavyweight champion, ‘Big George Foreman‘ shows us the tumultuous journey of the legendary boxer. George Foreman has had many ups and downs in his life, in which he managed to do some truly remarkable things despite the challenges in his path. It begins with his childhood days and focuses on the rage inside him, which he would eventually channel to make a name for himself in the boxing world.

Despite his incredible professional career, the film is more interested in shining a light on his personal life and relationships and how they factored in to make him the star the world knows him to be. Shortly after he gets his first taste of success, George meets a woman named Paula. They fall in love and get married, but it doesn’t last. They get divorced, and he eventually marries Mary Joan Martelly. If you are wondering what happened to George’s ex-wife Paula and if she is based on his actual former spouse, here’s what you should know.

Paula Foreman is Not a Real Person

George Foreman was never married to a woman named Paula. The character has been created to serve the film’s plot. However, it is based on the boxer’s previous marriages, especially his first one. In the movie, George meets Mary Joan after his divorce from Paula, and they get married to live happily ever after. In real life, George Foreman’s journey to finding Mary Joan was lengthier and full of turbulent marriages. He married and divorced four times before he tied the knot with Mary Joan. The film skips the three marriages before her. Considering this, we can say that Paula’s character was created as a composite of his ex-wives, and their relationship is a reflection of the real-life marriages of George Foreman.

Foreman’s first marriage was to Adrienne Calhoun in 1971, with whom he had one daughter, Michi. By this time, he was already in professional boxing and had earned an undefeated streak leading to his fight with Joe Frazier in 1973, when Foreman beat him to win his first title as the heavyweight champion. While his career was on the rise, things got complicated between him and Adrienne, mainly due to his infidelity issues. Allegedly, the boxing champion had an affair with Pamela Clay, with whom he has a son, George Foreman Jr. Eventually, he and Adrienne separated in 1974.

Foreman got married the second time to Cynthia Lewis in 1977. The same year, he welcomed his daughter, Georgetta, with his ex-girlfriend, Charlotte Gross. A former beauty queen, Lewis remained married to Foreman for two years. The couple had no children together and separated for unknown reasons in 1979. By this time, Foreman had decided to quit boxing and became a preacher.

In the movie, George meets Mary Joan shortly after he becomes a preacher. Yet, in real life, there were two more weddings before they met. The former boxer’s next wedding was in September 1981 with Sharon Goodson. This marriage lasted shorter than the others, and the couple split in 1982. They didn’t have any children together. Soon after his third divorce, Foreman’s fourth wedding was with Andrea Skeete in 1982. They had two children— Freeda and George Foreman III, and the marriage lasted till 1985. Soon after his divorce from Skeete, Foreman married Mary Joan Martelly, with whom he has seven children, two of whom are adopted. The couple has been together since.

The reason behind the failure of Foreman’s second, third, and fourth marriage remains unknown, and considering the allegations of his affair during the first marriage, it looks like George’s relationship with Paula in the movie is most closely the reflection of his first marriage. The film skips the rest of his marriages as they were short-lived compared to his first marriage. The timeline is retouched for dramatic effect and to maintain the flow of the plot. Another reason the character is named Paula might be that Adrienne Calhoun didn’t want to be involved with the film, and the filmmakers respected her privacy.

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