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Past Events

Archie McDonald Speaker Series

2018 Program: Jennifer Arnold

Archie McDonald Speaker Series Jennifer Arnold announcement

  • Date: Monday, April 23, 2018
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: Grand Ballroom, Baker Pattillo Student Center, SFA Campus

Jennifer Arnold M.D. was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and grew up in Orlando. She completed bachelor's degrees in biology and psychology at the University of Miami.

Arnold earned her medical degree in 2000 from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. She later attended a Pediatric Residency Program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

During her fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine, Arnold received a Master of Science in medical education from the University of Pittsburgh. She is board certified in neonatal medicine and serves as the medical director for the Simulation Center at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Arnold has been involved in simulation education, patient safety and research endeavors for the past 10 years. She was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Safar Center for Resuscitative Medicine from July 2006-07.

Her simulation areas of interest include use of simulation for evaluating new clinical spaces, team training, improving quality and patient safety, improving home care and skills for primary caregivers of medically complex children, and developing educational curricula for various departments throughout the hospital.

Arnold has spoken nationally and internationally on healthcare simulation, and she has been a speaker on topics about overcoming obstacles. She is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Simulation in Healthcare and the International Pediatric Simulation Society.

She serves on the executive boards for the Center for Medical Simulation in Boston, the International Network for Simulation-based Pediatric Innovation, Research and Education, and OpHeart, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving care of children with complex congenital heart disease. She is a national ambassador for Speak Now for Kids through the Children's Hospital Association.

Arnold has a rare type of dwarfism, Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, Strudwick type, which has resulted in more than 30 surgeries. She is a four-year cancer survivor.

Arnold, her husband Bill, and their children, Will and Zoey, are featured on The Learning Channel's docu-drama, "The Little Couple," which follows the family's personal and professional lives.

2017 Program: Douglas Brinkley

Douglass Brinkley

  • Date: Monday, April 24, 2017
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: Grand Ballroom, Baker Pattillo Student Center, SFA Campus

Douglas Brinkley, whom CNN has declared, "a man who knows more about the presidency than any human being alive," will headline the 2017 installment of the Archie McDonald Speaker Series at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Brinkley is an American historian, best-selling author, CNN presidential historian and history professor at Rice University in Houston. He is a sought-after commentator on U.S. presidential history and has authored books on Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

The speaker series event is free and scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 24, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom on the SFA campus. A private reception for 100 guests will be held prior to the main event. Private reception tickets can be purchased by contacting April Smith, SFA associate director of development, at (936) 468-5406.

"We are pleased to have such a prestigious presidential scholar and historian join us for our 2017 Archie McDonald Speaker Series," said Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Douglas' work has allowed for an inside look into the lives of some of America's greatest leaders. His contributions are indispensable to the study of history."

Six of Brinkley's books have been selected as New York Times "Notable Books of the Year," and a number of his most recent publications have become New York Times best sellers. His most recent book, "The Nixon Tapes," published in July 2014, discusses fascinating aspects of Nixon's presidency, including the year Nixon opened relations with China, negotiated the SALT I Arms Agreement with the Soviet Union and won a landslide re-election victory.

Brinkley completed his bachelor's degree at Ohio State University and received his doctoral degree in U.S. diplomatic history from Georgetown University in 1989. He then spent a year each at the U.S. Naval Academy and Princeton University teaching history.

Before joining the Rice University faculty, Brinkley served as professor of history and director of the Roosevelt Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. From 1994 until 2005, he was the Stephen E. Ambrose Professor of History and director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans.

On the literary front, Brinkley has edited Jack Kerouac's diaries, Woody Guthrie's novel, Hunter S. Thompson's letters and Theodore Dreiser's travelogue. His work on civil rights includes "Rosa Parks," published in 2000, and the forthcoming "Portable Civil Rights Reader."

Brinkley has achieved notable status among presidential historians and received a number of recognitions for his work, including the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize for two of his publications. He also was awarded the BusinessWeek Book of the Year Award and was named 2004 Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In February, Brinkley won a Grammy Award in the Large Jazz Ensemble category for producing the Ted Nash Big Band album "President Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom."

Brinkley is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly. He also is a member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Century Club. The Chicago Tribune has deemed him "America's new past master."

Brinkley lives in Austin and Houston with his wife and three children.

2016 Program: Gene Stallings

Gene Stallings

  • Date: Monday, April 11, 2016
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: Grand Ballroom, Baker Pattillo Student Center, SFA Campus

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Gene Stallings, whose name is synonymous with college football, will headline the 2016 installment of the Archie McDonald Speaker Series at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Stallings, who served as the head football coach for the University of Alabama from 1990-97, had an impressive record, including the team's 1992 perfect 13-0 season that culminated with a win in the Sugar Bowl and first Bowl Coalition national championship. Stallings was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2010.

The speaker series event is free and scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 11, in the Grand Ballroom of the Baker Pattillo Student Center on the SFA campus. A private reception for 100 guests will be held prior to the main event. Private reception tickets can be purchased by contacting April Smith at (936) 468-5406.

"We are pleased to have one of football's most respected coaches join us for our 2016 Archie McDonald Speaker Series," said Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Gene's determination to be the best instilled a championship attitude in the players he coached. His legacy of leadership continues in the generations of athletes he mentored."

Like previous guests of the series, Stallings will be recognized at the event with the university's Lifetime Cultural Achievement Award.

Stallings grew up in Paris, Texas, where he played high school football. In 1954, he was recruited by Texas A&M University, where he played for Paul "Bear" Bryant and was one of the legendary "Junction Boys," a name given to Aggie football players who endured Bryant's 10-day summer camp in Junction, Texas, that began Sept. 1, 1954. He graduated from the university in 1957.

In 1958, Stallings served as a defensive assistant at the University of Alabama. He was on staff for two of Alabama's national championship seasons, in 1961 and 1964.

Shortly after helping Alabama win the 1964 national title, Stallings was named head coach of his alma mater, Texas A&M University, at the age of 29. He coached the Aggies for seven seasons.

In 1972, Stallings joined the staff of the Dallas Cowboys as Tom Landry's secondary coach. He remained with the Cowboys for 14 seasons and helped them win Super Bowl XII.

The St. Louis Cardinals named Stallings as its head coach in 1986, and he remained there through the franchise's move to Arizona. He left the organization in 1989 and returned to the University of Alabama, where he was named head coach in 1990 and coached until 1997.

During his tenure at the University of Alabama, Stallings coached his team to unprecedented success, including four appearances in the Southeast Conference Championship Game, and leading the Crimson Tide to the national championship in 1992.

Stallings is cowriter of the book "Another Season: A Coach's Story of Raising an Exceptional Son," which describes his family's relationship with son John Mark Stallings, who was born with Down syndrome and died in 2008 at the age of 46 due to a congenital heart condition.

Additionally, Stallings serves on many boards, including President George W. Bush's Commission on Intellectual Disability, Tandy Corporation, People's National Bank of Paris, Paris Regional Medical Center, Disability Resources, the Texas Rangers Law Enforcement Association, the Great Southern Wood Corporation and the Boys and Girls Club of Paris, Texas.

The speaker series was created in 2010 by SFA's College of Liberal and Applied Arts. Dr. Brian Murphy, dean of the college, designed the event to honor and preserve the legacy of Dr. Archie McDonald as a distinguished scholar, educator and community commentator. In the tradition of McDonald's writings and oral presentations, a prominent national figure is hosted annually at SFA to discuss contemporary cultural issues.

McDonald taught history at SFA for 48 years and served as director of the East Texas Historical Association and editor of the association's journal for 37 years. He was a past president of the Texas State Historical Association, past vice chair of the Texas Historical Commission and author/editor of more than 20 books on historical topics. Along with teaching, he was a commentator on Red River Radio in Shreveport, and wrote a weekly column for area newspapers. He passed away on Aug. 16, 2012.

McDonald participated in the first three events in the speaker series, interviewing former heavyweight champion boxer and iconic businessman George Foreman, Apollo 12 astronaut and professional artist Alan Bean, and 61st U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Additional guests have included former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Grammy award-winning singer, composer and actor Lyle Lovett and Olympic All-Around Gold Medal winner in gymnastics Mary Lou Retton.

SFA's Student Government Association sponsors the speaker series, which is free and open to the public. Passes may be obtained at the Involvement Center on the first floor of the Baker Pattillo Student Center or at the downtown Visitors Bureau. For more information, call (936) 468-5406.

2015 Program: Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton

  • Date: Monday, April 13, 2015
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: Grand Ballroom, Baker Pattillo Student Center, SFA Campus

Mary Lou Retton catapulted to international fame by winning the All-Around Gold Medal in women's gymnastics at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, becoming the first American woman ever to win a gold medal in gymnastics. She won silver medals for team and vault, and bronze medals for uneven bars and floor exercise. Her five medals were the most won by any athlete at the 1984 Olympics.

Retton is the only woman to win three American Cups (1983-85), the only American to win Japan's prestigious Chunichi Cup (1983), two U.S. Gymnastics Federation American Classics (1983-84) and the All-Around title at both the 1984 National Championships and Olympic Trials.

Retton was named the 1984 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year and the 1984 Associated Press Amateur Athlete of the Year. She was the first woman to appear on the Wheaties cereal box and the Gallup Poll included Retton as one of America's Top 10 Most Admired public figures. She retired from competitive gymnastics in 1986.

In addition to serving as a commentator for NBC at the 1988 Olympic Games, Retton wrote a daily column for USA Today during the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Retton served as an on-air reporter for Gannett Broadcasting's NBC affiliates, the largest NBC affiliate group in the United States. She also co-hosted the weekly television series "Road to Olympic Gold."

Retton was selected a member of the official White House delegation representing the president at both the 1992 and 1998 Olympic Games. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton presented Retton with The Flo Hyman Award in 1995, commending Retton's spirit, dignity and commitment to excellence. The U.S. Olympic Committee established the annual Mary Lou Retton Award for athletic excellence, and Retton was first gymnast and the youngest inductee into the committee's Olympic Hall of Fame.

Today, Retton is in great demand as a motivational speaker and travels the world as a "Fitness Ambassador" promoting the benefits of proper nutrition and regular exercise. She serves as national chairperson and sits on the Board of Governors of the Children's Miracle Network.

The author of "Mary Lou Retton's Gateways to Happiness: 7 Ways to a More Peaceful, More Accomplished, More Satisfying Life," Retton has appeared in the motion pictures "Scrooged" and "Naked Gun 33 1/3." She has made appearances on numerous television shows, including "Guiding Light," "Knots Landing," and "Dream On," and guest starred in one of the highest-rated episodes of the series "Baywatch."

Retton is married to Shannon Kelley, and they have four daughters: Shayla Rae, McKenna Lane, Skyla Brae and Emma Jean.

2014 Program: Grammy Award-winning singer Lyle Lovett

Lyle Lovett

  • Date: April 10, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Location: Grand Ballroom, Baker Pattillo Student Center, SFA Campus

Lyle Lovett is a Grammy Award-winning singer, composer and actor. He has broadened the definition of Americana music in a career that spans 14 albums and more than four million records sold. Coupled with his gift for storytelling, the Texas-based musician fuses elements of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues in a manner that defies convention and breaks down barriers.

Lovett has won four Grammy Awards: Best Country Album (1996 for "The Road to Ensenada"); Best Country Duo/Group with Vocal (1994 for "Blues For Dixie" with Asleep at the Wheel); Best Pop Vocal Collaboration (1994 for "Funny How Time Slips Away" with Al Green); and Best Country Male Vocal (1989 for "Lyle Lovett and His Large Band." He received the Americana Music Association's inaugural Trailblazer Award and the Texas Medal of Arts Award, and he was named the 2011 Texas State Musician. Lovett has celebrated more than two decades of acclaimed work and garnered seven top-10 albums on the Billboard charts. Beginning with his 1986 self-titled debut and continuing through his most recent projects, Lovett has taken one artistic chance after another while crafting songs that resonate with fans and critics across the globe.

For the last few years, Lovett has been alternating Large Band tours with acoustic shows teaming him with John Hiatt, as well as larger songwriter circles also featuring long-time friends Hiatt, Guy Clark and Joe Ely.

Lovett has appeared in 13 feature films, which include the Robert Altman-directed movies "The Player" (1992), "Short Cuts" (1993) and "Cookie's Fortune" (1999), and he scored "Dr. T & the Women" (2000). He also has acted in "The Opposite of Sex" (1998), "The New Guy" (2002), "Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story" (2007) and, most recently, "When Angels Sing" (2011). Among his television acting credits are "Mad About You," "Dharma & Greg," "Brothers & Sisters" and "Castle." In theatre, he participated in three Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles productions, including "Much Ado About Nothing" (2010) opposite Helen Hunt.

Lovett resides in North Harris County, Texas in the farming community of Klein, named after his great-great-grandfather and where he was raised. Lovett began his music career while attending Texas A&M University in the late '70s, where he graduated with Bachelors' degrees in journalism and German.

Despite the departures to stage, television and screen, Lovett always returns to the music world. His stories and songs remain a powerful reminder that he possesses one of the most distinctive artistic voices today.

2013 Program: Former US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

Kay Bailey Hutchison

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has been a passionate and commanding force in American politics.

The first - and only - woman elected to represent Texas in the United States Senate, Hutchison was one of only six female senators when she was elected in a special election in 1993. She forged a path for other women to make their mark in the political world and, when she retired, was the Senate's highest-ranking Republican female. Forbes magazine has ranked her among the world's 100 most powerful women.

Hutchison was elected to a full six-year term in 1994. She earned a second term in 2000, when she was elected with more votes than any other statewide candidate in Texas history. In 2006, she was again re-elected by an overwhelming margin.

Hutchison served in the Senate leadership, having first been elected vice chair of the Republican Conference and later elected chair of the Republican Policy Committee. She was most recently the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science. She has been chair of the Military Construction Appropriations Sub-Committee and served on the Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee.

One of the Senate's strongest advocates for American leadership in science, technology, and education, Hutchison co-sponsored the 2007 America Competes Act in response to the National Academy of Sciences report on competitiveness. She was instrumental in establishing The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, which brings together National Academy members and Nobel laureates to foster more academic research in Texas.

In 2012, Hutchison was unanimously elected chair of the Board of Visitors at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She previously served as chair of the board from 1998 to 2000 and from 2008 to 2009 before being reelected to serve again this year.

Hutchison grew up in La Marque and graduated from the University of Texas and the university's School of Law. She was twice elected to the Texas House of Representatives. In 1990, she was elected Texas State Treasurer.

In June 2000, Hutchison and several colleagues coauthored "Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate," and in 2004, she released her first book, a bestseller, "American Heroines: The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country." Hutchison published her second bestseller, "Leading Ladies: American Trailblazers," in October 2007, and her newest book, "Unflinching Courage," will be released in April 2013.

The 2013 installment of the Archie McDonald Speaker Series will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom.

Book signing to follow the interview.

2012 Program: The Honorable James A. Baker, III

James A. Baker, III

James A. Baker, III has served in senior government positions under three U.S. presidents. He served as the nation's 61st secretary of state from January 1989 through August 1992 under President George Bush. During his tenure at the State Department, Baker traveled to 90 foreign countries as the United States confronted the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the post-Cold War era.

Baker served as the 67th secretary of the treasury from 1985 to 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. As treasury secretary, he was also chairman of the President's Economic Policy Council. From 1981 to 1985, he served as White House chief of staff to President Reagan. Baker's record of public service began in 1975 as under secretary of commerce to President Gerald Ford. It concluded with his service as White House chief of staff and senior counselor to President Bush from August 1992 to January 1993.

Long active in American presidential politics, Baker led presidential campaigns for Presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush over the course of five consecutive presidential elections from 1976 to 1992.

A native Houstonian, Baker graduated from Princeton University in 1952. After two years of active duty as a lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps, he entered The University of Texas School of Law at Austin. He received his J.D. with honors in 1957 and practiced law with the Houston firm of Andrews and Kurth from 1957 to 1975.

Baker's memoir "Work Hard, Study . . . and Keep Out of Politics! Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life" was published in October 2006.

Baker received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and has been the recipient of many other awards for distinguished public service, including Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson Award, The American Institute for Public Service's Jefferson Award, Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government Award, The Hans J. Morgenthau Award, The George F. Kennan Award, the Department of the Treasury's Alexander Hamilton Award the Department of State's Distinguished Service Award, and numerous honorary academic degrees.

Baker is presently a senior partner in the law firm of Baker Botts. He is honorary chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and serves on the board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 1997 to 2004, Baker served as the personal envoy of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in seeking a political solution to the conflict over Western Sahara. In 2003, Baker was appointed special presidential envoy for President George W. Bush on the issue of Iraqi debt. In 2005, he was co-chair, with former President Jimmy Carter, of the Commission on Federal Election Reform. In 2006, Baker and former U.S. Representative Lee H. Hamilton served as the co-chairs of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel on Iraq. In 2008, Baker and the late Secretary of State Warren Christopher served as co-chairs of the National War Powers Commission.

Mr. Baker was born in Houston in 1930. He and his wife, the former Susan Garrett, currently reside in Houston, and they have eight children and 18 grandchildren.

2011 Program: A Conversation with Alan Bean: "Leaving an Impression One Step at a Time"

Alan Bean

Alan Bean was born in Wheeler, Texas, in 1932. He graduated from high school in Ft. Worth in 1950 where in his last year he was selected for a NROTC scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin. Five years later he was awarded a bachelor's in science and was commissioned Ensign, United States Navy.

In 1956 he completed flight training and was awarded Naval Aviator wings. He was assigned to Jet Attack Squadron 44 in Jacksonville, Fla. Four years later he was selected for the Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. When his schooling was completed, Bean was assigned to the Service Test Division. Bean spent three exciting years as a test pilot, flying almost every type of plane in the Navy service.

During this time, his latent interest in art strengthened and he enrolled in night classes in drawing and watercolor at nearby St. Mary's College. Bean was testing high performance airplanes in the day time, and drawing and painting nights and weekends.

In 1963 Bean was selected as an astronaut for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He was the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 12, man's second Lunar Landing. Bean became the fourth man to set foot on the moon.

In 1973 Bean again flew in space as Commander of Skylab Mission II. This mission lasted 59 days and traveled 24.4 million miles. His crew accomplished 150 percent of their pre-mission goals, a record unequaled, even today.

After Skylab, Bean was selected as backup spacecraft commander for the joint American-Russian Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. Bean then served as Chief of Operations and Training and Acting Chief Astronaut until the first flight of the space shuttle.

Throughout Bean's career as an astronaut, when not in specific mission training, he took courses at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Glassell School of Art and from a number of talented fine artists in the Houston area at nights and on the weekends.

It was during this period that many of his fellow astronauts began asking, "Alan, why do you keep painting the same subjects that all earth bound artists have been painting since painting was invented? You are the first artist to visit another world, a world completely different from planet Earth, and you could be the first to paint our experiences there. You could tell our story, what humans do when we first explore distant worlds and share that experience with all of us."

They were right on. Although Bean was training to command an early space shuttle mission, he realized that there were young men and women in training that could fly those as well or better than he could, but he was the only one of the 12 humans that walked on the moon and was able to celebrate the great adventure that was Apollo in fine art. So, in 1981, Bean resigned as a NASA astronaut to devote his time and energy to painting.

While at NASA, Bean helped establish 11 world records in spaced and astronautics. He was awarded two NASA Distinguished Service Medals and two Navy Distinguished Service Medals. He has received the Robert J. Collier Trophy, Yuri Gagarin Gold Medal and numerous other national and internationals honors. He is listed in all major Who's Who. He has been on the cover of Time and Life magazines, appeared on many television talk shows and was the subject of a prime-time program on the Public Broadcast System. Bean has flown 27 types of military aircraft as well as many civilian airplanes and has logged 7,145 hours of flight time.

For the last 28 years, Bean has been a full-time professional artist. The transition has not been without a lot of thought and effort. Bean vowed when he resigned from NASA that he would not be an astronaut that paints, but rather become "an artist that used to be an astronaut." And so he has, continuing his art education at the Museum of Fine Arts Glassell School, private study with talented professional artists in Houston, and taken a variety of selected painting workshops throughout the U.S.

Over the years his work has evolved into a mixture of painting and sculpture, textured with lunar tools, sprinkled with bits of his Apollo 12 spacecraft and the emblems and flag from the spacesuit he wore on the moon. These emblems, awarded to Bean by NASA, even today remain dusted with a touch of moondust from the Ocean of Storms.

Bean has had a number of exhibitions during his long career, the most recent at the Butler Museum of American Art, in Youngstown, Ohio. At that show he was awarded the prestigious Butler Gold Medal For Life Achievement in Art.

"I want to record, in fine art, paintings that will tell future generations of humankind's first exploration of another world. We are at a pivotal point in history as we move off this planet. It's going to take a while, and it may be decades until other artists gaze across the surface of the Moon and lift their eyes up toward the distant Earth, that blue marble in the sky, but that day will come."

It may be a lifetime or more before the first artist walks on the Red Planet and worlds beyond, but this, too, shall come to pass. The body and nature of paintings from other worlds will grow beyond our ability to imagine, but these paintings Alan Bean is creating now, will forever be the very first.

2010 Program: A Conversation with George Foreman: "Reflections on My America"

George Foreman

George Edward Foreman Sr. was born to JD and Nancy Foreman on January 10, 1949, in the town of Marshall, Texas. An impoverished youth, Foreman often bullied younger children and didn't like getting up early for school. Foreman became a mugger and brawler on the hard streets of Houston's 5th ward by age 15.

George Foreman, from Thug to Boxer

George attended the Lyndon Johnson's Job Corps program, which helped troubled kids. Foreman traveled to California, where he met Job Corps counselor and boxing coach Doc Broaddus, who encouraged Foreman to become a fighter.

After only 24 amateur fights, the culmination of his amateur boxing career came at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, where he won a gold medal. George got extra attention when he brandished an American flag after his win; "I wanted everyone in the world to know I was an American," he later explained, "and proud of the opportunity that I was given to do what I had done."

Foreman Becomes Heavyweight Champ

In 1969, Foreman turned professional. Within two years, Foreman was ranked the No. 1 challenger by the WBA and WBC; by 1972, Foreman's impressive record was 37 wins (most by knockout) and no losses.

Foreman became the heavyweight champion on January 22, 1973 after knocking out the great Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica. An unprecedented TV audience watched Foreman become the champ - the fight was HBO Boxing's first-ever broadcast.

In the summer of 1974 George Foreman lost his title in what is considered one of the greatest fights of all time, the much-hyped "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire. After taking 1975 off, Foreman returned to boxing, winning a number of fights before losing by decision to Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico in 1977. It was in his dressing room after the fight that Foreman had a religious experience; he then gave up boxing and became a born-again Christian.

George was ordained a minister and began preaching in his hometown of Houston, Texas. In 1984, he founded the George Foreman Youth and Community Center, a non-denominational place for kids who need direction like he once did. In order to continue his positive work in the community, in 1987 Foreman decided to return to boxing!

Many people doubted George's ability, but he proved his detractors wrong when he kept winning fights into his 40s; in 1991 he had a shot at the title, but lost to champ Evander Holyfield by decision.

The loss made George stronger! In 1994 Foreman took on the new champ Michael Moorer, and knocked him out in the 10th round; Foreman became, at 44, the oldest fighter ever to win the heavyweight crown.

George Foreman & the Lean Mean Grilling Machine

By the time Foreman retired from boxing (again) in 1999, he was well on his way to a second career as a businessman. Since the early 1990s, Foreman had discovered his talent for salesmanship, and by the end of the decade, he was making millions off of infomercials marketing the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine which has sold over 100 million units to date.

George has now successfully launched a line of environmentally safe cleaning products, an exclusive line of personal care products, a health shake called George Foreman's Life Shake, a prescription shoe for diabetics to prevent amputations, a restaurant franchise called UFood Grille, 10 books, and the list continues to build.

When not promoting his products, George tends to his ministry and charitable work, including most recently his "Knock-Out Pediatric Cancer" initiative. He spends free time with his family or with his horses on his ranch in Marshall.