“Big” George Foreman says that Mexico is his beloved favorite place in the whole wide World apart from the USA, because it twice radically changed his destiny, giving him life changing opportunities.
Flanked by Mexican stars of the fabled 1968 Olympics at the beautiful “Ex hacienda de Cortes”, in the heart of Coyoacan, Mexico City, George said he was overjoyed and close to tears to greet his fellow starts of that magical time. Standing beside him were beaming Joaquin Rocha, Antonio Roldan, Agustin Zaragoza and Juan Paredes.
George who won Gold in the heavyweight division, recalls it all really started for him there and then, realizing he could become a celebrity, as someone asked him for an autograph at the Olympic Village. The very first autograph he ever gave! Mexico was yet again pivotal to his success when the Great Lifetime President of the World Boxing Council, Jose Sulaiman insisted that he George have the chance to fight Joe Frazier for the heavyweight title in Jamaica, achieving six spectacular knockdowns of “Smokin” Jose who had the courage and temerity to get up all six times, before the action was waved off and George was crowned champion of the World.
All the illustrious Mexican stars of 68 received special medals from the WBC, and George was presented with a Green and Gold Belt, which Don Jose had wanted to give him. Now twenty years on, he finally cradled it with tender affection in his huge hands.
An emotional video capturing that tremendous event half a century ago, thrilled the assembled showing George`s enormous and realized potential. And as he recalled with sincere gratitude, the Mexican fans who love their boxing, cheering him on that night to victory. Then his famous celebration as he waved a small Stars and stripes as the World gazed on in wonder. George gave one of his famous real big laughs as he recalls after that time, Mauricio as a baby: “But today he`s giving me orders!”
Horacio de la Vega, Director of the Sports Institute of Mexico City, stressed that this country deserves to celebrate all the legends that took the podium at that time.
De la Vega commented that this celebration has been so very important, because throughout the year they have done various sporting events inviting the highest representatives of the participating disciplines….the most important achievement has been to remodel each one of the 68 Olympic facilities.
Manuel Negrete, Mayor of Coyoacán, who as a member of Team Mexico in the 1986 World Cup scored the most spectacular voted goal of all time in that showpiece… also held in Mexico, spoke not only to welcome all attendees, but also to remember that sport is the way to heal a wounded society, to crystalize values in children and young people always requiring and gaining respect, loyalty and teamwork.
after being presented a Certificate of Honor for that incredible forever famous feat, he vowed that one of his most important commitments as Mayor is to continue promoting sports, activating facilities where children, youth and adults can enjoy, develop and flourish.
World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman so aptly summed it all up saying this day has a very special meaning, urging it`s necessary to take a few minutes to remember and savor the glory of that memorable sporting gem…the Olympic Games.
Mauricio gave an emotional and heartfelt welcome to the great former world champion and gold medalist, George Foreman, a man who represents the absolute best of boxing. A life of success and service that has been an inspirational example of improvement through endeavor , but above all, love and faith in God.
“George Foreman is undoubtedly one of my Dad`s special champions, not just for his extraordinary feats up in the ring, but especially for the quality of his humanity.
“George has been a great representative of the organization and what boxing is and today! I want to give him a very special gift that has been kept for more than 20 years, a gift that my Dad wanted to give him, the green belt and third generation Green and Gold.”
George Foreman was emphatic in saying that there could not have been a better place to win that gold medal than in Mexico, a country that loves boxing and where it`s embraced with the greatest of affection.
George also said: “This is such an important occassion in my life. Thank you so much for this honor.”