Two women filed lawsuits Wednesday in California alleging that George Foreman, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, sexually abused them when they were teenagers in California in the 1970s.
According to the lawsuits, the women, using the pseudonyms Gwen H. and Denise S. to protect their identities, initially met Foreman when they were under 10 years old through their fathers. One man was a boxer and sparring partner of Foreman, while the other was a boxing manager and longtime adviser to Foreman.
Foreman then groomed the girls for several years, according to the complaints, before forcing them to have sex with him in places ranging from a San Francisco hotel to an apartment in Beverly Hills. The two women, who are both in their early 60s, filed the complaints in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Foreman also told one plaintiff, according to the complaint, that she could never tell anyone about their relationship: “You don’t want your dad to lose his job, do you?”
Representatives for Foreman referred inquiries about the lawsuits — in which he is identified only as “DOE 1” — to a statement he released last month, announcing that he was anticipating a lawsuit.
“Over the past six months, two women have been trying to extort millions of dollars each from me and my family. They are falsely claiming that I sexually abused them over 45 years ago in the 1970s. I adamantly and categorically deny these allegations,” Foreman said.
He added: “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.”
Foreman, now 73, may be as well known now for pitching his eponymous grills as he is for his substantial accomplishments in the ring.
After winning a gold medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, he beat Joe Frazier for the world heavyweight title in 1973 and then lost it the next year to Muhammad Ali in the classic Rumble in the Jungle bout in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then called Zaire.
Foreman then struggled financially, before discovering religion. He mounted a comeback, at age 38, with a smiling and affable manner that was in marked contrast to his earlier persona and later became the oldest heavyweight champion in history.
The claims were filed under a California law allowing survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits. The law, which went into effect in January 2020 and expires at the end of 2022, has resulted in thousands of claims accusing coaches, teachers, clergy and others of sexual abuse.
While numerous claims have been settled, only a few have gone to trial — including one involving a former high school tennis star from Marin County, north of San Francisco, who was abused by his coach and awarded $10 million in damages by a jury in May.