Books

No Way But to Fight: George Foreman and the Business of Boxing

University of Texas Press, January 2020

Olympic gold medalist. Two-time world heavyweight champion. Hall of Famer. Infomercial and reality TV star. George Foreman’s fighting ability is matched only by his acumen for selling. Yet the complete story of Foreman’s transition from an urban ghetto to global celebrity has never before been told.

Raised in Houston’s “Bloody Fifth” Ward, battling against scarcity in housing and food, young Foreman fought sometimes for survival and other times just for fun. But when a government program rescued him from poverty and introduced him to the sport of boxing, his life changed forever.

In No Way but to Fight, Andrew R. M. Smith traces Foreman’s life and career from Great Migration to Great Society, through the Cold War and Culture Wars, out of urban Houston and onto the world stage where he discovered that fame wrought new challenges. Drawing on new interviews with George Foreman and declassified government documents, as well as more than fifty domestic and international newspapers and magazines, Smith brings to life the exhilarating story of a true American icon. No Way but to Fight is an epic worthy of a champion.

What People are Saying about “No Way But to Fight”:

No Way but to Fight is a powerful story about race, class, and violence in America, a revealing portrait of the redemption of a man searching for a life beyond the confines of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ Ward of Houston”

Johnny Smith, author of “Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X”

“Smith astutely chronicles Foreman’s story from his early days in the Fifth Ward of Houston up through his many victories in the prize ring and enormous success as a television personality. In the process, we gain important insights into Foreman’s complicated personality and the often cruel and unforgiving world of boxing.”

David K. Wiggins, author of “More than a Game: A History of the African American Experience in Sport

“Based on deep research and a treasure trove of interviews, No Way but to Fight tells the fascinating story of Foreman’s rise to the top of the boxing world, his navigation of the post-Civil Rights era, and his path to becoming the Foreman Grill pitchman”

Ryan Swanson, author of “The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the Modern Athlete
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