George Foreman in a 2016 file photo. GAGE SKIDMORE VIA CC BY-SA 2.0

Intro to the third (final) installment in a feature series on George Foreman from The Japan Times:

In his book “Only in America: The Life and Crimes of Don King,” the late author Jack Newfield noted that Sonny Liston had made a big impression on George Foreman.

This influenced Foreman’s demeanor as a fighter, including his facial expressions, which bore a striking resemblance to Liston’s during his pugilistic pursuits.

“Foreman had grown up trying to emulate the scowling menace of Sonny Liston,” Newfield wrote, “and he was deep into that intimidating persona leading up to the (Joe) Frazier fight.” In that January 1973 bout, Foreman dropped Frazier to the canvas six times, nabbing the WBA and WBC titles with a second-round knockout in Kingston, Jamaica. And they met again in June 1976, with Foreman earning a fifth-round TKO.

As contemporary news accounts reported, Foreman maintained the visible appearance of the Meanest Man on the Planet in those days.

That was then, this is now.

After his first retirement in 1977, the Houston native made a successful comeback a decade later en route to becoming the oldest heavyweight champion in history at age 45 in 1994.

Upon his return, Foreman exhibited a more gregarious personality than former sparring partner Liston from whom he traded punches with in the run-up to the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where he captured the heavyweight gold medal.

“George became a completely different person since his first retirement,” wrote one YouTube viewer in the comments section accompanying footage of a BBC interview program with Muhammad Ali, Foreman and Frazier from 1989. “All his anger and hate left him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone more humble and at peace with himself than Foreman.”

The full story: