Boxing trainer Willie “Red” Harris was an important influence on young boxers, from his son Ronnie to world champ George Foreman.

As a boxer and as a father, Willie G. “Red” Harris trained his son, Ronnie Harris, according to the news obituary Todd Porter wrote for the Canton (Ohio) Repository.

His outreach extended to other young boxers.

From 1966-68, Red’s son held the National AAU lightweight title. “In ’68, he was selected to represent the U.S. in Mexico City at the Olympics,” Porter wrote. “That’s when George Foreman’s life was changed as well.”

“Most of the guys on the Olympic team came from matriarchal families, and this was the first exposure to a man having something to do with his son,” Foreman, who won the heavyweight gold medal that year, told Porter in a phone interview after Red Harris’s death on Nov. 19. “We had not seen that. In the years to come, how Mr. Harris treated Ronnie was the way all of us treated our sons. He gave us a blueprint. He was the only one.”

Foreman continued to heap praise on his fatherly role model.

“If you don’t have someone like that in your life, you have no idea what to do with your life,” Foreman said. “If you don’t cross paths with a man like Mr. Harris, you continue to live a trail of ignorance. I thank God I met the man.”

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This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.