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Biopic explores life of heavyweight champion George Foreman

World heavyweight champion George Foreman gives a right hook to Puerto Rican challenger Joe King Roman, who is already on the floor, in Tokyo on Sept. 1, 1973.   -  
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**Award winning Director George Tillman Jr has brought to the big screen the rise, fall and redemption story of former two-time heavyweight champion and entrepreneur George Foreman. 

George Foreman knows that there is power in vulnerability and allows audiences into his life’s ups and down in the latest film, “Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World” opening April 28.

“That’s not easy to go and tell your story,” said Foreman. “Being a celebrity, you hide your life. Big gates around your home, dark glasses, dark screens in your car. You don't want to tell anyone something. But I had to reveal things. I had to reveal them. And it was scary.”

The biopic follows Foreman as a young, angry and misunderstood boy into his later years as a professional boxer. The story looks even further and examines the spiritual awakening that led him to retire from boxing and pursue life as a minister in a Christian church.

Light and shadow

Tillman was able to condense Foreman’s entire life story from past to present in a 2-hour-9-minute film highlighting some of the champion's biggest moments including his notable matches in the boxing ring with Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. 

But the film isn’t just a celebration of Foreman’s accomplishments, the director was unafraid to talk about some of the more controversial moments in Foreman’s life. This includes brief storylines around infidelity and mainstream reaction to George proudly holding up an American flag after his first Olympic win in 1968—the same year that Tommie Smith and John Carlos held up the Black power salute during their medal ceremony.

“He was just felt like we had to tell the story, the real story as much as possible,” said Tillman. “We all make mistakes. And that's what this movie's about. A second chance. How can you still laugh? How can you still stays determined? How can you still stay inspiring? Those are the feelings that I wanted the audience to feel that at once,” he added.

Foreman is portrayed by Khris Davis who plays the former boxer throughout various stages of his adulthood. The actor had to put on a large amount of weight when portraying Foreman in his later years after he first retired from boxing and pursued life as a Christian minister. 

Davis was eating up to 7,000 calories a day and says it was mentally taxing until he let go of himself and stepped into the character.

“One day I just decided to cut all my hair off. So I cut all my hair off and I cut my beard off and took my shirt off and looked in the mirror and I said, ‘Oh, there you are. That's what it's for. You know, I could finally see myself shifting into this later year. These later years of Mr. Foreman's life. So, it made the sacrifice—every single calorie was exciting to eat now, because I could see the work happening. And every time I stepped on the scale, five pounds heavier, ten pounds heavier, my belly was getting bigger, my neck was getting bigger. And it was exciting because I'm like, All right, we're going to we're going to do this.”

The film also stars Forest Whitaker, who plays Doc Broadus—George’s first boxing coach who took him from having little to no experience to becoming an Olympic gold medalist in his first year of boxing.

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