Mayor Sylvester Turner and The Black Heritage Society have announced that Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman will join the 42nd Annual “Original” Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade as the Grand Marshal.
The downtown celebration will take place on Monday, January 20, 2020 starting at Smith and Lamar streets, from 10 a.m. to noon. The Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE) will co-produce the event.
“As a Texas native, and having grown up right here in Houston, it’s an honor and privilege to be named the Grand Marshal of The Original MLK Day Parade,” said Foreman. “What’s special is that right here in Houston, this parade was the first one to be held in the entire country 42 years ago. I’m proud of our history in this great city and I look forward to seeing us all come together in the name of love, peace and all that Dr. King stood for.”
Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas, but spent his childhood growing up in Houston’s Fifth Ward. He started the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in northeast Houston in 1980, where he continues to serve as an ordained minister. Several years later, Foreman founded the George Foreman Youth and Community Center (GYFC), using athletics to keep local kids off the street and out of trouble. For over 30 years, GFYC has been a beacon of hope in Houston serving the underprivileged and helping kids become champions in the ring and in life.
During his boxing career, Foreman earned two heavyweight titles — the first in 1973 in a historical match against Joe Frazier. His second heavyweight championship was earned in 1994, where Foreman made boxing history again as the oldest heavyweight champion at the age of 45.
Today, he is a globally-recognized entrepreneur, having built the Foreman brand to new heights with products ranging from shoes to the George Foreman Real Time Pain Relief Formula.
“George is a Houston icon. His commitment to the Houston community matched with his ability to persevere, embody the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I am excited the champ said yes. We could not think of a better Grand Marshal for this historic event.”
The Original MLK Day Parade was the very first MLK Day Parade held in the nation after being sanctioned by the King family in 1978 in Houston.
The celebration will showcase a variety of marching bands, decorated floats, dance teams, military and ROTC groups, first responders, city and county officials, VIP guest appearances and notable organizations from around the world.