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George Foreman Joins the Comeback Parade

August 30, 1986|EARL GUSTKEY | Times Staff Writer

The group of heavyweights presently seeking undisputed possession of boxing's heavyweight championship might have another entry in a few months.

George Foreman.

The 37-year-old, 270-pound former champion told The Times Friday that he is back in training and planning the first bout of a comeback in November.

"I never had any desire to box again until the summer of '84, when I boxed in an exhibition at Fort Benning, Ga.," Foreman said. "I was surprised how strong I felt in the ring, and I've been thinking of coming back ever since."

Foreman hasn't boxed since 1977, when he retired to become a Houston minister. Foreman won the Olympic Games heavyweight championship in 1968, turned pro in 1969, then knocked out 34 of 37 opponents before winning the heavyweight championship by knocking out Joe Frazier on Jan. 22, 1973, at Kingston, Jamaica.

He subsequently knocked out Ken Norton, too, before losing the title to Muhammad Ali in Zaire in 1974. He tried futilely to obtain a rematch with Ali for several years, then retired at 29 after having soundly beaten every world-class heavyweight of his time except Ali.

Foreman said he is running six miles a day and sparring at his Marshall, Tex., ranch under the guidance of trainer Charley Shipes. He said he might also be assisted by a trainer who worked his corner when he was champion, Archie Moore.

"Nobody knows more about being a competitive boxer at an older age than Archie Moore," Foreman said. "He was about 40 (42, according to the Ring Record Book) when he fought (Rocky) Marciano, and was pushing 50 when he fought Ali.

"I'm right at 270 or 275 now, but that's not as bad as it sounds. Between fights in my prime I was always 250 to 255. I'm not worried about my weight. When it comes time for my first bout, I'll be down to 220."

The former champion said he's not driven back into the ring because of the quality of today's heavyweights.

"I haven't watched a heavyweight fight on TV since I saw a Larry Holmes fight in 1976," he said. "People tell me today's heavyweights aren't much, but I'll just get in the best shape I can and see what happens. I'm really coming back because I want to show a lot of young kids I work with in Houston what you can achieve with some hard work."

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