George Foreman says he is being targeted by two women who are accusing him of sexual abuse in the 1970s and that he denies all their claims, calling them an extortion attempt.
In a statement published Wednesday, the iconic heavyweight champion asserted that the two women have been trying to extract “millions of dollars” from him for the past year.
“Over the past six months, two women have been trying to extort millions of dollars each from me and my family,” Foreman said. “They are falsely claiming that I sexually abused them over 45 years ago in the 1970s. I adamantly and categorically deny these allegations.
“The pride I take in my reputation means as much to me as my sports accomplishments, and I will not be intimidated by baseless threats and lies. I am, and always will be, guided by my faith and trust in God. I will work with my lawyers to fully and truthfully expose my accusers’ scheme and defend myself in court. I don’t pick fights, but I don’t run away from them either.”
TMZ reported that the lawsuit will be filed this week in Los Angeles by the two women “whose fathers apparently had a friendship and working relationship with Foreman decades ago.”
TMZ’s sources also indicated that the two women have been seeking $12.5 million each from the 73-year-old Foreman.
A ferocious puncher, Foreman came up in the last golden age of American heavyweights, dueling with the likes of Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. In 1974, Foreman was knocked out by Ali during their “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight clash in Zaire, regarded as one of the most famous moments in sporting history. Never quite the same after suffering that upset loss, Foreman retired three years later.
After a decade away from the sport, Foreman, a newly-born Christian, made his famous comeback trail in 1987 at the age of 38, setting up what would become the most impressive accomplishment of his career.
Foreman made history in 1994, when he became the oldest heavyweight champion at 45 with a 10th-round knockout victory over 26-year-old Michael Moorer.
The native Texan eventually retired at 48, in 1997, after a points loss to Shannon Briggs. He finished with a 76-5 record, with 68 knockouts.
Foreman has made millions using his name, most notably with the George Foreman Grill.