'Let George Do It!'

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Many people know George Foreman as the Olympic gold medalist and two-time heavyweight boxing champion.

Others recognize him as the force behind the popular "lean, mean grilling machine."

Now, he's adding another title to his repertoire - children's author. He recently released his first book for kids called "Let George Do It!" Click here to read an excerpt and see some illustrations.

Foreman tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith the idea of writing a book came after meeting some kids on the streets of Memphis, Tenn., from a Headstart class.

"Teachers are saying, 'There he is George Foreman, ex-heavyweight champion of the world. He was an Olympic champion' to 5-year-old kids. One kid looked at me and said, 'That's the cooking man.' They knew me and had no idea I was a boxer. So I had a little conversation with him. When you speak to a lot of kids, as I've done over the years, you know what to say, keep them laughing, good illustrations and learn to read."

Foreman's book is all about a dad named Big George and his five sons named George, George, George, George and George. All of the boys band together to help prepare for dad's birthday.

The book is based on real life; all Foreman's sons are named George. Foreman says his wife tried to give the children nicknames, but then it became hard to remember them.

"My mother never could remember my name. I could go out of the door by the time she remembered my name. This will never happen to me," Foreman says and points out with a big smile, "If you're in boxing, too; you heard of Muhammad Ali, Kenny Norton, Joe Frazier. Evander Holyfield. They all hit me on the head. How many names am I going to remember?"

Foreman tells Smith all the Georges in the world can feel very proprietary about having this as their own "George" book. Foreman remembers when he was a child, his teacher recited "Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie ..." and tells Smith, "I thought it was about me. Later on, I found out it was just a poem. The teacher convinced me. I thought she loved me. Turns out it was a poem." So with his book, he wants to make kids named George feel special.

Foreman spends a fair amount of time with kids. He founded the George Foreman Youth and Community Center in 1984. It's a place for kids to hang out and play pool, exercise, and learn to box. Particularly during the summer months, Foreman makes an effort to spend some time with the kids there, and he even takes them on special trips to his ranch where he has a menagerie of ostriches, cows, horses, parrots, monkeys, lamas, and many more species.

He notes with laughter, "You bring some of the kids out of the city. They think they're tough gang members. They see a bull chasing after them for the food, and [they quickly say,] 'Help me George!' I say, 'I thought were you so tough.' I say, 'Take off the red shirt.' They want to take off everything."

There is a little scene in the end of his book in which he shares his love for animals.

"I love the pigeons," Foreman says, "I just raise them, period, and feed them. Pigeons go away and they always come back. You get a touch of freedom and then they are free to come back to you. I love the idea of pigeons."

As for the idea of him going back to the boxing ring, he says, "I really wanted to, at the age of 45. I'm 55. I was in shape, training." But his wife disagreed and it started a big argument.

"Well, I didn't box," he tells Snith. "When it gets to the part in life where you're more afraid of what your wife is going to do to you than if you box, say, Mike Tyson, you've got to get a new profession. You don't get to be a family. I know why boxers never quit, some of them. They don't have wives."

So he ended up grilling instead. Asked if it is true that there are 65 million grillers, he says, "There is actually 75 million. It's the most successful electrical appliance ever in the history of London, England. It sold worldwide as much as locally. We got the new grilleration where you can take the thing apart, put it in the dishwasher. Another generation of people buying grills. You can just put it in the sink or dishwasher. Easy to clean now. Of course, it knocks out the fat."

And he has a line of clothes for the big and tall. He notes, "You got to look nice. If you got 10 kids; they'll talk about you if you don't look nice."
  • Tatiana Morales

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