Two women suing former heavyweight champion George Foreman, alleging he sexually abused them as teenagers decades ago, spoke out publicly for the first time on Tuesday, while an attorney for the ex-boxer flatly denied any such abuse occurred.
"These claims are false,'' Foreman's attorney, Shawn Holley, told reporters hours after the two women spoke out during a Glendale news conference. "Mr. Foreman's reputation is important to him. It is well-earned. It is well-deserved.''
The women sued Foreman in LA Superior Court earlier this year, alleging he sexually assaulted them as teenagers beginning in the 1970s. One of the plaintiffs, identified in court papers as Denise S., says in her lawsuit that her father was a boxer who trained with Foreman, and she met him when she was 8 years old in the early 1970s.
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The lawsuit contends that Foreman started "grooming'' her at an early age, allowing her to sit on his lap when he drove her for ice cream, and he began having sex with her when she was 15 and 16 years old.
A second lawsuit filed by a woman who says she is the daughter of one of Foreman's managers also claims the boxer sexually assaulted her when she was 15 and 16 years old, in alleged attacks that also dated back to the 1970s.
Speaking at a news conference with their attorneys in Glendale, the women described the effects of the alleged attacks.
"I was lost,'' one of the women said. "I was broken — mentally, emotionally, and physically. I could not function properly anymore.''
She added, "Because of George Foreman, I lost the most important thing. I lost my self-worth.''
The other woman said the alleged assaults had a long-term impact on her personal life.
"I never really attached myself to anyone or had any meaningful relationships,'' she said. "I started to realize that the only way to have sex was to be numb so I turned to drugs to do that.''
Holley, speaking on behalf of Foreman, strongly denied the allegations, saying her client "will fight as he has in the ring to defeat these false, nonsensical, ridiculous allegations.''
"By these women coming forward and making these absolutely false claims now, not only does it harm Mr. Foreman's well-earned, well-deserved stellar reputation, but it also de-legitimizes actual women with real claims of sexual abuse.''
Foreman, 73, is a two-time world heavyweight boxing champion, claiming his first title by defeating Joe Frazier in 1973. He lost his title the next year to Muhammad Ali, but later reclaimed it at the record age of 45. He is known equally for his career as a businessman, most famously for the George Foreman Grill.