George Foreman on Setting an Example

By Thomas Hauser
This is the fifth year in a row that I've devoted a holiday column to some thoughts from George Foreman. George has been punched in the face by Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Evander Holyfield. Yet right now, he has the most joyous smile in boxing. And George doesn't just put on a cheerful face for the holiday season. It's there every day of the year.

Not long ago, George and I sat and talked, as we do annually for this column. Some of his thoughts follow:

I've done a lot of things in my life. I've been married five times, and I'm proud of the fact that I've been married now to the same woman for twenty years. I have ten children; five boys and five girls. I've been a preacher, heavyweight champion of the world, and a businessman. And after all that, I can tell you that what I want to do most for other people is set a good example.

All of us are examples in life. Parents are examples for their children. Ten-year-olds in school set an example that younger children follow. Sometimes, you're an example for someone else and you don't even know it. I really believe that, until people are thirty years old or so, they need examples. They want them too. And the choice of who you choose to follow as an example says a lot about who you are.

To be a good example, you have to be consistent. I try to be the same person every minute of every day.

To be a good example, you have to be honest with other people and honest with yourself. Truth is wisdom.

A good example is always respectful of other people's feelings and who other people are. I can't stand it when a person puts labels on someone else. The fat guy . . . the stupid person . . . the gay guy . . . the ugly girl . . . the whatever. Talk like that makes me angry and sad. People are people. We're all different, but we're all the same.

Everyone goes through hard times in life. But if you're a good example, you don't let your troubles define who you are. You smile and do the best you can. Sometimes, that means walking away from a situation without solving all of the problems. But for every door that closes in life, another door opens wide. It's like that saying, "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

And to be a good example, you can't spend too much time talking about the past and the good old days and how much better things were back then because, if you do, you'll be giving up on now.

I'd also like to see political leaders in America set a better example. I'm not content with the political leadership we have today. It's all about sound bites and this one looks the part and that one looks good. A small minority is in charge, and most of the generation that should be overseeing how the country is run is clueless. We hear a lot of talk about making things better for people, but the people in charge are cutting programs that educate children, cutting programs that provide job training, cutting programs that give people good medical care. That saddens me because it takes away hope and weakens the country. It makes it harder for people to elevate themselves and better their lives. These shouldn't be political issues, but they are.

You know, part of the joy of living is that there are so many doors to open in life; and until you open them, you don't know what lies behind them. I have a few more doors to open before my own journey is done. I hope I never stop growing and never stop improving as a person. And I hope the world becomes better too. It's already a wonderful world for me to live in, but I'd like to see more opportunity and more hope for people who haven't been as fortunate as I've been.

That's what I want for other people. For myself, it's not about big things. It's about simple pleasures that I don't have time to do right now, like fishing and walking in the woods. And sometimes I fantasize about things that I know won't happen. I don't daydream a lot, but I do fantasize sometimes about weighing 196 pounds again.

Award winning author Thomas Hauser can be reached at
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