IN A ROOM OFF A NARROW hallway on the forty-second floor of mid-town Manhattan’s Four Seasons hotel, heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman is talking to Ben Kinchlow, the dapper and urbane host of The 700 Club, the religious news and talk show. They touch lightly on matters of faith and George’s penchant for naming many of his children George, but mostly they talk about fighting. Like nearly everyone else, Kinchlow doesn’t call him Champ or even Mr. Foreman. One handshake and he’s “George”—at 46, he brings that out in people. From his homes in Houston and Marshall, George has come to New York this third week of December to host Saturday Night Live and to move along an autobiography now in rush production at Random House but he’s plenty in demand elsewhere. The National Father’s Day Committee wants to declare him father of the year. Gumbo magazine wants him as its gumbo marshal. A magazine in France wants to interview him on the subject of poise. Life magazine wants him to pose with a ballerina from the New York City Ballet (the hook is fitness and weight control). George’s agent boats that these days George commands a larger speaking fee than Norman Schwarzkopf. Since his knockout of young Michael Moorer in early November, the world has beaten a path to his door.
Both George and Kinchlow have deep, rich voices. They laugh a lot. But it’s hard to hear too much of their conversation because bedlam has broken loose in the hallway. Certain hotel guests are allowed to register their dogs, and at this moment three Labrador retrievers are baying, snarling, throwing their chests against a door. The dogs are vexed because their owners are out, and for half an hour a camera crew from a South Korean TV network has been muttering and moving gear around in the hall. A hotel security chief steps off an elevator with a look of polite, intense displeasure. He wants those cameras to disappear—now. The Koreans acknowledge that they understand him but stand their ground: Their boss, a correspondent whom George’s handlers know only as Mr. Soo, is in there with George and Kinchlow, and he has just struck his head outside and told them to be ready.
The door opens and George ambles out, grinning. He is nattily attired in a size 50 extra long sport coat. The man is vast—six four, about 250 pounds—but it is not the bigness of obesity. He has an odd, slow gait, as if his feet hurt. Over his shoulder he remarks to his courtly publicist, Mort Sharnik, that Kinchlow looks like a movie star. The grin vanishes when George hears the howls of the dogs and their hard thumps against the door. Then, to the horror of the hotel security chief, the hall is ablaze in TV lights. The Koreans crowd into an elevator with George, shooting all the way. Pressed into a corner, towering over six