George Foreman III on making his gym a place to be
George Foreman III is making brawn his business. The son of George Foreman, the famed two-time world heavyweight champion, Foreman III attended Fay School in Southborough, where a lifelong friendship with classmate A.J. Rich began. Last January, the pair opened The Club, a gym in the Seaport District that espouses an “everybody fights” mantra.
On any given day, visitors to the club can find a few Foreman wannabes sparring in the rings. Many more pack the Bags and Body and Fighter’s Booty classes. Still, despite the trendy address (15 Channel Center St.) and juice bar, Foreman III calls The Club “a community center.” His latest project, “The Fighting Spirit: The Art of Winning Your Fight,” promises to focus on community as well. Co-written by Foreman and Mary McAlary, the book, out Jan. 22, will offer motivational stories to inspire those facing adversity. We spoke with the younger Foreman, who turns 32 this week.
Your dad — the name and the man — are the family business. What was that like growing up?
He was grooming me from when I was 11. There were no friends, no sleepovers, I was always with my dad from 10 on. If I wasn’t in class, I was with him, dressed up to a T. I was 20 when I started managing my dad. I was weeks shy from turning 21 when I got my first deal done. It was a contract extension for Meineke. Within a year, I was handling everything.
Did you want to be a fighter?
I graduated Rice University in 2006 and continued managing my father. Around 2008, I started to make a transition to boxing as hobby. I was 280 pounds and needed to lose some weight. My brothers teased me, telling me I wasn’t an athlete and it was always the joke because I [had been] in boarding school. My dad agreed to train me. By 2010, I was completely out of managing my father and he was completely into managing and training me.
What was training like?
Seventy percent of it was chopping wood, pulling large vehicles. We’d get these heavy mallets and bang on a big wheel tire. We’d pull a 4-wheeler with a person in it up a hill, or pull a Jeep Wrangler on a street with a very slight incline. As a boxer, you need to be strong and fast, but you also have to be able to withstand punishment.
How does a professional boxer decide to open a club in Boston of all places?
In March of 2012, I decided to take a break from boxing and came to Boston to visit A.J. [Rich], my best friend from Fay. He has a background in real estate and nightlife in Boston, and he did the research about opening The Club. Massachusetts ranks first with gym membership at 25 percent. I would venture to say Boston is even more than that. Also, at the time Boston was number three in terms of the average price paid for a membership at $91 per month.
Was The Club inspired by your dad’s gym?
My father in 1983 opened the George Foreman Youth and Community Center in Houston. I grew up in that gym. He created a place that was called a community center. What it was was a gym. It didn’t have a lot of programs and there are still no frills and not a lot of equipment. It has limited hours, but it’s a stronghold in the community.
What’s the draw of your club?
For me, it was two things. Showing people that the boxing workout is everything. Boxers need flexibility, core strength, pilates. It’s yoga. It’s cycling. It’s rowing. Then, it’s making it have value. One thing I learned following my dad around was that if you have a product that has a good value, people will tell their friends about it.
But aren’t people intimidated by the gloves, the rings?
Yeah, but intimidation can’t stand up to community. If you are building community around something people will try anything.
You teach 15 classes a week. Where are you when you’re not here?
I’m at home on A Street, I’m at Sweetgreen, I’m at Pastoral, My Diner, and Met Bar when I want to be really bad. That brunch is insane.