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A new Foreman enters the ring

George III is set for his boxing debut.

HOUSTON - George Foreman named each of his five sons after himself, clearly set on carrying on the family name. The two-time heavyweight champion, however, drew the line at a family boxing tradition.

"It is such a rough sport," he said. "I never wanted my kids to do that."

Still, when George Foreman III chose to box, his father was there. Tomorrow, Foreman III will become the former champ's first son to fight professionally when he faces Clyde Weaver in Kinder, La. A sister, Freeda George Foreman, had a short boxing career early in the decade.

George Foreman III, who is nicknamed "Monk," is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He may have gotten to the ring sooner if not for his father's insistence on putting education first. The 26-year-old son has worked as his father's business manager since getting a business degree from Rice.

"That was the main focus with my family," Foreman III said. "I couldn't even talk about girlfriends until I had my college degree, much less boxing. Once I did that, I'm sure they figured it's my life."

Foreman III had been training mostly on his own for almost a year with some advice from his father before the ex-champ decided he'd test him. The intimidating bear of a man entered the ring and announced he and his son would spar the next day.

"So he walks in there, doesn't smile at me, doesn't tell me anything, says, 'No pointers,' " Foreman III said. "He goes off in the corner, puts his headgear on by himself, didn't give me any coaching for three days, and he just pulverized me."

When it was over, George Foreman came away impressed and is now his son's trainer and manager.

"When you get in the ring with the ex-heavyweight champion of the world, if that doesn't frighten you, nothing can frighten you," Foreman said of his son. "He wasn't bothered by it."

Foreman, who was almost 60 at the time, was a bit troubled by the session.

"He scared me, because I was trying to hit him with that big jab of mine ... and he kept jumping up like: 'I'm going to hit you' and I thought: 'I don't think I'm going to be doing this much,' " the ex-champ said. "I don't want to be hit in the head anymore."

This will be Foreman III's first official fight after several attempts at amateur bouts fell through. Turns out no one wanted to face a man with genes like his, even if he is inexperienced.

Foreman III said he ran into the fathers of a couple of the men he was set to fight.

"They'd say: 'It was my son, he was going to fight you and he couldn't sleep at night,' " Foreman III said.

Added his father: "That George Foreman name can get you in trouble. You can't get an amateur career when everybody thinks you are the reincarnation of George Foreman."

After more than three months of canceled amateur fights, his father came up with the idea for Foreman III to go professional, surmising any opponent would show up to collect a check.

Foreman III's newfound career has created an interesting dynamic between father and son. The ex-champ isn't quite as bossy with Foreman III in his role as business manager now that he's managing his boxing career.

"When you're managing your father, he can come and he can tell you off real good and point his finger at you," Foremann III said. "But when he's your manager in boxing and your trainer, he has to say: 'I don't want to upset this guy because I have to deal with him this afternoon and I don't want him to fire me.' "

Though the entire family - which includes 10 children - is supportive of Foreman III's dream, some aren't exactly excited about a Foreman getting back into the ring more than 11 years after the patriach's last fight.

"I really thought we were done," sister Natalie Foreman said. "I thought that as a family, we had been through enough waiting in the dark for the phone call that says 'Dad's OK.' "

Natalie, an aspiring singer, first campaigned to sing the national anthem at Foreman III's fight, but soon changed her mind.

"When I saw the first ad in the paper, I got this sick feeling in my stomach," she said. "The same feeling I used to get when I was little and my dad was fighting. I thought I wanted to be there and I called him the other day and [said]: 'I just can't do it. I think I'll be sick to my stomach.' "

She thought one of her brothers might eventually follow in her father's footsteps. But if she had to guess which one, she said, Monk would have been the last choice.

Monk is the sweetest and most gentle of the Foreman boys, she said. The women in the family also believe he's the best-looking, so they cringe at the thought of him taking a blow to his face.

"I've never seen him lose his temper," she said. "My other brothers lost their tempers and I'm like: 'Oh, God, there's a beast in there.' But with him ... he was so sweet and so kind."

Sitting next to the son who has outgrown him on a recent afternoon at the gym and youth center he built, the ex-champ beams as he discusses his fighter.

Though he bears a striking resemblance to his father, promoter Ron Weathers says Foreman III's fighting style is much different from his father's, because of his speed and agility.

Another difference is outlook. George Foreman made his debut in 1969 and mounted a comeback after a 10-year layoff in 1987. He then became the oldest man to win a major heavyweight title, at age 45 in 1994. The son has another approach.

"He can do more than me because the first time around all I cared about was the fame and fortune and really trying to hurt someone," Foreman said. "He doesn't think like that. He's looking at boxing purely as a science and as a profession. The second time around I was just thinking about . . . publicity. 'How am I going to sell this product?'

"He's beaten me there, because he's thinking pure science. He's a businessman already. All the things I was trying to achieve, he's done already. So he can concentrate on boxing a little more."