Believe it or not, former heavyweight champ George Foreman didn’t always want offspring named after him.
According to his first wife, Adrienne Foreman Jones, the man with five sons named George nixed the idea of naming his first child, their daughter Michi, a feminized version of dad’s name. “My daughter I was going to name Georgianna. I had a friend in Detroit named Georgianna, who was married to [NFLer] Charlie Sanders, and we called her Georgie. But [Foreman] didn’t want me to do that,” she said. “So I got mad when all [his] kids had George in their names, even the girls — there’s Freeda George, Georgetta.”
Foreman didn’t respond to my e-mails seeking comments. I thought we were buds. Since Adrienne introduced us, every time the champ comes to Minneapolis, he calls me over for a visit.
As you can see from the video, Foreman Jones is a lot of fun on her own. I especially enjoy her priceless first meeting with Muhammad Ali.
Q: Where did you meet George Foreman?
A: On a blind date, Aug. 29, 1970. A guy friend of mine came by my house and said, “This boxer George Foreman is in town, and we want somebody to kind of go out with him. You don’t have to do nothin’.” I said, “Aw, OK.” The boyfriend I had was a nobody. He [the matchmaker] said, “If he [Foreman] asks you if you’ve got a man, just tell him you’ve got a man, Mr. Wonderful. [Sucks her jaw, rolls eyes, shakes head.] That first date, I’ve got to picture still.
Q: There were 18 months of dating and how many years of marriage?
A: Three. [Laughter.] He always says we should’ve been friends [never a couple]. He has a sense of humor, and I do, too. He hurt me and broke my heart. HE BROKE MY HEART. I thought I was going to be married forever. I came from a divorced home. But I forgave him somewhere in there. I think he just wanted to get out there and play. He had become heavyweight champion. He said he didn’t want to be married. He said he didn’t want [a] contract on anyone or them to have one on him. He wanted to be free. But then three years later, [Foreman asked], “Will you marry me, again?” And I said, “Are you kidding?” ‘Cause I know he’d [have] divorced me again. He told one of his friends, “I asked Adrienne to marry me again, and she told me no.” I was a little bit more independent because of the divorce. I was his first wife; he’s on his fourth.
Q: How have you managed to have a good second marriage with Ben Jones and remain friendly with your first husband?
A: That’s deep, isn’t it? Because the man I’m married to now is [more] introverted than me, very laid back, and George and I have had our wars, but we truly are friends. If I’m having problems with [our] daughter, I’ll call him. Since I am a little older than him and his [current] wife is [younger] than him, I’ve told him about getting his knees replaced. I even sent him the X-rays of my knees because his knees were really giving him a hard time. That’s the kind of [friendship] we have. I think it’s very spiritual.
Q: Tell your Ali story?
A: We were in Texas and he [Foreman] heard Ali was boxing. This was after Ali’s comeback; he was fighting Jimmy Ellis over at the Astrodome. So he [Foreman] said, “Let’s go over there.” I was in my little Afro, probably weighed 100 pounds less than I do now; my little empire waist dress. We went to the hotel. [Foreman told her], “Just stay right here.”
Here comes Ali with people around him and he kind of glanced [her way]. Pretty soon, here [Ali] comes with George: “Ali, I want you to meet my wife, Adrienne.” We were just dating. And Ali said, “What you want with him when you can have the real champ?” [George] laughs about it to this day. No words came out of my mouth. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t say “Nice to meet you. How do you do?” I was just standing there.
[Ali] chased us out of the hotel, because George had a tank top on: “Come back here, Tarzan!” That was my meeting with Muhammad Ali. I’ve never forgotten that.
Q: Was it Ali’s aura or good looks?
A: He was gorgeous. He was 14-karat-gold color. That was probably one of the biggest thrills of my lifetime. He was something else. I thought I had the man who was something else, as well.
Q: You’ve told me you’d rather be with a poorer man than rich man?
A: Yep. Because the one with money is like, “You do my thing and I do my thing.”
Q: What advice do you have for young women marrying professional athletes?
A: To me, I think these entertainers are just as bad as the athletes. I watch all the rapper shows. They treat their women like ... I don’t know what. I think it’s just magic [if] you’ve got a man who wants to stay committed. Somehow you’ve got to marry your friend. I think that’s the key. Please make sure you like each other.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject.