George Foreman wishes he had more time with his daughter Freeda

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George Foreman is at the top of the pound for pound list of living legends of pugilism. So the news that his daughter Freeda passed away on Friday, hit his considerable fan base of boosters hard.

Foreman’s second act as a heavyweight man for the masses, one who proved that middle age isn’t necessarily a signal to exit the grand stage, made his visibility transcendent. He transitioned into a lovable figure of geniality and optimism as he peddled quick grillers and obtained national endorsement deals.

Now 70, his popularity has staying power, as evidenced by his presence on the NBC show “Better Late Than Never” with Henry Winkler and William Shatner, which saw these elder statesmen entertainers travel the world and see hijinks ensue.

Foreman’s fans took to social media to offer an outpouring of sympathy on the Friday loss of his daughter Freeda, age 42, at her residence near Houston, Texas, and he surprised no one by reacting with trademark grace.

Freeda, who fought briefly as a pro, is survived by her husband, two daughters, three grandchildren, her parents and 11 siblings, according to TMZ.

She was working at UPS, a single mom of a toddler, when she decided to follow the daughters of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier to walk in the footsteps of famous fathers. Her pop didn’t want her gloving up, but, she said, she appreciated his support.

On Sunday night, I checked in with the Hall of Fame hitter, sending my heartfelt sympathy to he and his.

“In boxing you learn to fight with cuts…blood coming from your eye,” George responded, when I noted that his army of fans would be pleased to hear that he is dealing as well as can be expected.  “Cracked ribs, you hurt, but all you know is to answer the next bell. I’m not strong; it’s  just how we learn to fight.”

His fans, and I count myself unabashedly among them, root for him in this trying time, and send prayers and good vibrations and the warmest thoughts to him and the family.

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