George Foreman Gets Lean and Mean

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, December 3, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Big and tall meet, I don’t know, big and bad. A shop that caters itself to the bigger men just grabbing the baddest, who just so happens to be one of the nicest. I’m talking Casual Male Retail Group hooking up with George Foreman.

David Levin runs Casual Male. George Foreman runs, well, pretty much anything he wants. No tough questions in this interview because he’ll hurt he me. But good to have you. Thank you both for coming.

GEORGE FOREMAN, FMR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: I’m happy to be with you. I’m really happy about the Casual Male hook-up, big and tall clothing. That is going to look beautiful.

Moms in Texas and California that have the football players, 13 and 14, got a place to get beautiful clothes for beautiful kids. So they can look sharp all the time. That’s what I’m going to do.

CAVUTO: You are getting millions for this, aren’t you?

FOREMAN: You know what? It’s not about that. It’s about service this time.

CAVUTO: Really?

FOREMAN: When I started with the grill it was about making everybody aware of healthy cooking and healthy eating. Now it’s about get some comfortable clothes so you can get out there and do healthy things.

CAVUTO: Yes. Because not that you need it, but the Foreman grills deal, you left that one with almost $140 million.

FOREMAN: Yes, and a lot of friends.

CAVUTO: All of these deals, I’ve heard figures in the half-billion-dollar range. Is that right?

FOREMAN: You know what? If you start counting money, you’re in trouble. I have too many cousins for that.

CAVUTO: George, I’m counting money. Your family has to be counting money. That’s a lot of money.

FOREMAN: But you know, you meet people in the airports and they walk up and say, "George, thank you." They used to walk up to the airport and say, "You should have beaten Mohammed Ali," or "Why didn’t you beat Frazier like that?"

Now they love me and I don’t have any one side or the other. So I like the idea of being of service this time.

CAVUTO: David, why hook up with this guy?

DAVID LEVIN, CASUAL MALE PRESIDENT AND CEO: He’s our customer. He represents everything that we have out there. George has been shopping our stores for years. And, we hooked up...

CAVUTO: I thought he made all his own clothes. No?

FOREMAN: You know, that’s the trouble. There are so many guys who think you get wealthy, it doesn’t matter what size you are, you can buy clothes. But there are a lot of big, strong young boys out there and men. And mothers are shopping for them. And wives, like my wife, shops for me at Casual Male, and they want comfortable clothes, as he was saying.

I’m sorry to interrupt you.

CAVUTO: So now, you obviously passed on Mike Tyson. So you wanted someone who had a good reputation.

LEVIN: Pure guy with George. And what George brings to the party for us is that, understanding what a big guy is all about, and comfort and fit being the key pieces for that business. And we have come out with the George Foreman Comfort Zone, and it has technology of new fabrications and construction. We have pants that expand up to three inches in the waist.

CAVUTO: That’s like me after lunch. So this guy, you think he’s going to move a lot of product, right?

LEVIN: He’s our grill man.

CAVUTO: George, how do you do that, though? I mean, no one thought that the Foreman grills were going to be that big.

FOREMAN: And they last.

CAVUTO: And you know, everyone kind of made fun of the big smiles and said no one is going to go with this. And all of a sudden, it was big, big, big, big, big. I think you sold in excess of 50 million units. Did you ever think it would be that big?

FOREMAN: Never that big. But I made a lot of friends, by the way.


FOREMAN: People would look out and see George Foreman as the old neighbor next door, the guy who pulls up his pants a hundred times when he’s mowing the lawn. And nothing happens. They stay there. You know?

And they’d say, "He reminds me of my grandpa or my uncle." And when they saw me endorsing things, they jumped on the bandwagon with me because I’m one of them.

CAVUTO: What about the boxing bandwagon? You know the state of the heavyweight division is a mess. We’ve had Larry Holmes here, Joe Frazier, Don King. They all kind of agree it’s a mess. Did you ever want back in?

FOREMAN: Yes. I liked boxing. I really did. My wife makes me stop now.

I wanted to get back into boxing and she told me, "Look, if you do..." So I’m more afraid of her than I am of boxers. And that’s the only reason I have not gotten back into boxing.

CAVUTO: We’re showing Joe Frazier, 1972. That’s 30 years ago.

FOREMAN: Can you believe that?

CAVUTO: What, you knocked him down six times?

FOREMAN: Five times I know -- or six times.

CAVUTO: I always remember, “Down goes Frazier.”

FOREMAN: Down goes Frazier. I had to keep him down, because I knew if he had gotten up he was going to get me down.

CAVUTO: Now, the Ali thing, the famous fight, do you look back at that and say, oh, I shouldn’t have fallen for that?

FOREMAN: They call it the rope-a-dope. Well, I’m the dope. Ali just laid on the rope and I, like a dope, kept punching until I got tired. But he was probably the most smart fighter I’ve ever gotten into the ring with.

CAVUTO: Do you talk now?

FOREMAN: And still one of the greatest -- my best friend.


FOREMAN: I told him I wanted to make a comeback and I wanted to rematch with him.


FOREMAN: He said, "You’re crazy."

CAVUTO: Now, you retired when you lost to Jimmy Young a few years later. And everyone wondered why. You still had a great future ahead of you. That’s when you were reborn. And it has been off to the races since.

FOREMAN: Yes. Ten years I didn’t box.

CAVUTO: And you’re boxing 10 years after that.

FOREMAN: Ten years I didn’t even make a fist. I never even shadow boxed. I was out of it. Been an evangelist at the Church of Lord Jesus Christ, and I still do that.

That’s my work. I’m a preacher.


FOREMAN: So I still sell religion, number one.

CAVUTO: I always never knew how that jived. You know, you’re a preacher and you’re beating...

FOREMAN: People ask me, "Well, how can you be a preacher and a boxer?" I said, "Well, get in the ring with me on Monday and you won’t ask me a question on Sunday."

CAVUTO: Yes. Well, no one’s going to argue with that.

But David, let me ask you, I mean, boxing doesn’t have the sort of cachet, I guess, that it used to, when he was big and Frazier and Ali. You know, it’s not the same. It’s kind of really looked down on today.

Yet you still hooked up with one of the greats. You could have chosen a current great. Did you just not find one?

LEVIN: George goes way beyond boxing. George is selling the grill to the female consumer, and that is where we see tremendous growth. Most of the product purchased by men today are by the female consumer, and we have been deficient in that area.

We think George is going to bring in the women to shop for the men. They don’t look at George as the boxer. They look at George as the man they can trust. And they believe in the products he sells.

CAVUTO: I hear this deal is pegged, though, that sales reach certain target levels, George is off to the races here money-wise. Is that true?

LEVIN: Well, it’s fairly simple royalty-based deal. George’s incentive is for us to sell a lot of product, and...

CAVUTO: It worked for the grill.

LEVIN: If George can do for us what he did for the grill, we have a home run.

CAVUTO: So Lennox Lewis has nothing to worry about from George Foreman?

FOREMAN: Well, I don’t think so. I think Lennox Lewis is about done with boxing anyway. He’s had...

CAVUTO: What do you think of him?

FOREMAN: He’s had his best days. He would have existed as a great fighter in any era. He could have beaten anybody at any time. So he’s that good.

CAVUTO: You have come a long way from that scowling kid who beat Frazier.

FOREMAN: Oh, yes. I was mean.

CAVUTO: One hundred and eighty degrees.

FOREMAN: Yes. You have to change. You start raising kids -- as a matter of fact, I have to retire from my HBO boxing job so I can go watch my kids play football now.

They’ve had two seasons, rushing and titles, and I haven’t seen them play football. So when you raise kids you say, sit up straight, put a smile on your face. And you better do it yourself.

CAVUTO: Well, if you were my father, I would do it like yesterday.

George Foreman, thank you very much. Best of luck with this. David Levin, thank you very much. Casual Male hooking up with the legendary Mr. Foreman.

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