Excerpt: George Foreman's Guide To Life

No one can deny he speaks from the perspective of someone who has been knocked around in life. Now, George Foreman, the two-time heavyweight boxing champion and father of 10, has advice about toughing it out when times get rough and not letting the bad times define you in his new book, George Foreman's Guide to Life.


There's hardly a single lesson I've learned in life that didn't come the hard way. So I know that life can sometimes seem like a big hole, and that you have to be pulled up out of it from time to time. But I also know you can pull yourself out. I say this as someone who read his first whole books at the age of sixteen; who was married and divorced four times and found the fifth time to be the charm; who's the oldest person ever to hold the heavyweight boxing title. I know from experience that you should never give up on yourself or others, no matter what. Everyone in life goes through a hard time sometime, but you can't let that define who you are. What defines you is how you come back from those troubles and what you find in life to smile about.

I grew up the fifth of seven children in the toughest neighborhood in Houston, and I didn't have a lot to look forward to in life. At least I didn't think I did. I was hungry all the time; I dropped out of school in the eighth grade; I relied on my size and my fists to make my way. I became the world heavyweight champion against Joe Frazier in 1973, only to lose the title I'd worked so hard for a year later in my fight against Muhammad Ali. Imagine losing everything you think matters to you in ten seconds. For a long time in my life, I was so full of rage, people couldn't wait to get out of my way — just like when you see a Doberman pinscher and cross to the other side of the street.

I see a lot of tough guys come into the George Foreman Youth and Community Center in Houston who remind me of myself when I was a teenager. Just like my old friend and boxing coach in California, Charles "Doc" Broadus, did with me, I always put them in the ring against the smallest guy there who knows how to box. The big guy comes out all bluster and swinging this way and that. And the little guy doesn't even hit him, he just moves out of the way until after a while, the big guy is completely out of breath. That's usually about the time he realizes that the smaller guy could have killed him with a few well-placed jabs and that it's how you fight that counts.

This book is about fighting smart for all the things that really matter in life: yourself, your relationships, and your kids. I have done some crying while doing this book. I have gotten some old bones out of the closet, brought back memories I needed to refresh myself with, and reminded myself of some valuable lessons. As the father of ten children, I am often called on for advice, and I always try to make my kids understand that any advice I offer is a gift. Just as with any other gift, once you give it, it's no longer yours. It belongs to those you've given it to, and it's theirs to do with as they see fit. That's the spirit in which I hope you read what I have to say.

Excerpted with permission from George Foreman's Guide To Life How to Get Up Off the Canvas When Life Knocks You Down by George Foreman. Simon & Schuster, Copyright January 2003.