There are two common threads in boxing biographies. They find it very hard to make a clean break from the ring because they can't make money doing anything else, and they come to the sport because it is a way to make money and break out of poverty or other harsh living conditions. Money, in other words, is the prime motivation to risk your health by engaging in a profession that involves getting punched in the face repeatedly by another man.
That's why it is odd to see that George "Monk" Foreman III is making his boxing debut in Kinder, Louisiana on Saturday night. While he is the 6'5", 240-pound son of a heavyweight icon, he also holds a business degree from Rice University and serves as the business manager for his father's empire. The George Foreman Grill has been wildly successful and allowed his father to continue raking in money after finally hanging up his gloves at the age of 48.
Big George escaped his long career with faculties intact, but many of the men he fought weren't so lucky. Even with that knowledge and even after providing his son with a life filled with options that don't end in brain damage, Big George supports Monk's decision.
"He’s doing it for the right reason. He loves it. He wants to be a part of it. I did it for vain reasons. He can do more than me because the first time around all I cared about was the fame and fortune and really trying to hurt someone."
That contrasts pretty sharply with what a boxing promoter told the Houston Chronicle when asked someone with Monk's background would want to step into the ring.
"How about for $200 million and stardom?" veteran promoter Ron Weathers said. “You think that’s a pretty good motivation? A couple hundred million and being a superstar — not to mention all the other stuff that goes with it. That’s where he’s headed."
Maybe it's where he's headed, but the real takeaway from Weathers' comment is what it reveals about boxers. Fame, fortune and wanting to beat someone up are the reasons why they do what they do, and many of the best ones don't seem to love it so much as realize it is the easiest route to those goals. When you've already got the fortune, there are plenty of easy ways to get fame. Just check the nightly television listings under reality shows if you're skeptical of that claim.
It's nice that the younger Foreman isn't content to ride his father's coattails, but it doesn't seem like a great recipe for pugilistic success. Here's hoping he proves that theory wrong, or at least leaves the sport healthy enough to resume his previous career path.