George Foreman III
Putting into practice lessons learned in boxing and business
You might not be surprised to hear that the son of one of the most famous boxers to ever live has opened up a gym. It’s a path you could expect from a guy whose father is world heavyweight champion George Foreman. But when you talk to George Foreman III about his Boston fitness club venture EveryBodyFights — and his life growing up with a boxing legend — you realize that perhaps the biggest legacy his dad gave him is entrepreneurial prowess.
Yes, the 33-year-old Foreman III spent his childhood and teen years around boxing and training with his father while growing up in Humble, Texas. Yes, when his father opened the George Foreman Youth and Community Center in Houston, Foreman III spent most of his out-of-school time there. Yes, EveryBodyFights uses a training philosophy largely drawn from what the son learned from the father’s professional boxing training routines. And, yes, he even got into professional boxing and had a successful four-year career, racking up a 16–0 record.
But he came to professional boxing on his own, later in life — his career spanned his late 20s — and began the path to boxing without even telling his dad, though the elder Foreman would later help him train. To hear Foreman tell it, what he remembers the most from his early days was involvement with boxing as a business — from supporting his dad’s training routine and schedule, to helping run his gyms, to promoting the wildly successful George Foreman Grill.
“Boxing was always part of my lifestyle, but I never boxed myself at all,” Foreman says. “With my dad there was no playing around, going over to friends’ houses and all that. When you weren’t in class you were contributing to the family business, and our business was whatever dad was doing. If he was training, that is what we were doing. If he was traveling to promote the grill, we would have to put on a suit and carry his bag and go with him and listen during interviews. That is how I grew up.”
The young Foreman learned something about professional sports that many kids miss when they see only the fame and money and glamour — he learned it was a business above all else.
He carried this lesson forward into his later schooling, attending the Fay School and Governor Dummer Academy in Massachusetts, as well as high school in Texas, then Pepperdine University in California, where he studied business for two years before finishing up with a bachelor’s degree from Rice University in Texas in 2005. His academics encompassed business administration, sports management and kinesiology.
Throughout his college years and after graduation he became increasingly involved in his father’s business and eventually served as his business manager for eight years.
This period also included his foray into professional boxing from 2009 to 2012. The boxing training from his father would be the final lesson to serve him in creating the training programs behind EveryBodyFights, but Foreman also emerged with some strong thoughts on the kind of businessman he wanted to become.
“My dream was always to own not just a large business, but a large business whose business was small business,” Foreman explains. “So I wanted, for instance, 1,000 gas stations or 800 salons — where it is a small business, you see your customers every day and it is a high-touch business.”
The small business aspect of this dream has become a reality with EveryBodyFights. Now he has his mind set on fulfilling the rest of his dream by expanding the brand in the future into a business empire throughout the country.
An early-round knockout
EveryBodyFights opened in January 2014, and if the early scorecard is any sign, Foreman may very well be on his way to the business empire he envisions.
The gym’s 15,000-square-foot space in Boston’s Seaport District has 1,400 members that pay a monthly fee of $150 for access to the training facilities and classes. Another 800 active users pay on a per-class model of $35 a class or 10 classes for $275.
Foreman says the gym is essentially at capacity.
EveryBodyFights runs 150 classes a week, and the facility includes two boxing rings, free weights, cardio equipment, rowers, a room full of boxing bags and space for yoga and other cardio classes. The gym’s approach is a combination of all the ways Foreman saw his father and other pro boxers train while he was growing up.
Tabbed as “Boxfiit,” the EveryBodyFights training program focuses on road (cycling and running), bag (punching and kicking), train (strength and cardio) and body (stretching and core).
“The concept was everything in one place for the perfect training camp. All this is legitimate to boxing, to true boxers, and the way they train,” Foreman says.
Bringing out the inner fighter
At EveryBodyFights, not all members are actually training to be boxers; they are using boxing training methods and mentality to accomplish their fitness goals.
“That means you let go of everything and just give a 100 percent,” Foreman says.
Foreman is giving his 100 percent to the future of his brand as well. EveryBodyFights is fully staffed with about 70 trainers, eight front desk staff and a half-dozen office staff, including himself and business partner Anthony J. Rich.
He plans to grow a chain of corporate locations, and is already working on franchising. Recently, a licensed location opened in Watertown — a 1,500-square-foot studio offering the Boxfiit training program inside another gym.
Foreman’s aim is to open a second EveryBodyFights corporate location in Boston this year and one in New York in 2017. As for the franchise model, he believes it will work well by partnering with others in places like Houston, Miami and Los Angeles.
Expansion means risk, but Foreman does not shy away from it.
“The goal is to get everybody boxing. If I play scared, then that will never happen,” he says. “It wouldn’t fit our ‘everybody fights’ attitude. I think you have to put yourself out there, that is all there is to it.”
In his corner
Although most of Foreman’s life seemed to lead up to starting EveryBodyFights, he is quick to credit business partner Rich for the gym’s success so far and for giving him the final push to get it going.
Foreman and Rich, who is also 33, met at the Fay School and stayed in touch afterward. While Foreman was off with his dad and attending college and sharpening his business and training acumen, Rich was honing his business skills as well. Rich graduated from Boston University in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and then blazed a trail of startups around Boston. He opened a sunglass and apparel shop on Newbury St., ran it for four years and then sold it. In 2007, he started the Boston Collegiate Consulting Group, which provides services to international students coming to Boston, and eventually sold his part of the business to a partner. Around the same time, he started the real estate brokerage firm FlatsBoston, with which he is still involved, though someone else now runs the business.
In 2012, Foreman was visiting Rich in Boston. He was looking to wind down his pro boxing career. Rich is also a boxing enthusiast, and their talk came around to the potential of boxing training for a fitness-center-type enterprise. Boxing gyms had been done to death and there were plenty of luxury fitness centers — but there was nothing that combined the two.
It was a business opportunity too good to pass up. Rich, with his real estate experience, even told Foreman where he should open it — in the Seaport District.
They did some research, hashed out a business plan and crunched numbers to see what it would take to get going.
Foreman never really went home. He stayed with Rich to work on the new venture, and 15 months later, EveryBodyFights opened. In between, Foreman did one more pro fight to earn some money, and pitched some private investors to fund the startup. It came down to the wire on the money end, but they were able to get $1.3 million to launch.
Foreman and Rich run the show together, with Foreman as brand ambassador focusing on the training programs, and Rich as operations director handling marketing.
Rich sees Foreman as a great business partner and as a fighter who will do what it takes to succeed.
“I think you want to find someone who wants to fight with you, who wants to be at your side,” Rich says. “When you have two people that are equally as passionate and equally as willing to sacrifice to make it work, you do well. We both have the same goals — we want to become the best boxing fitness concept in the country.”