After four failed marriages, the former heavyweight champion George Foreman found the love of his life, Mary Joan Martelly. Alongside being married to a renowned figure, Martelly is an outstanding figure in her own right. Catapulted into the spotlight following her wedding with the boxer, her path has been full of hurdles.
If you are interested in learning about her life before stardom, you have come to the right place. The article will also shed light on the person behind the fame.
Mary Joan Martelly Is From The Caribbean
Born in 1964, Joan is 60 as of 2024. She is originally from Saint Lucia, an island country of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean. However, she has been living in the United States since the 1980s.
Born among eight children, she was the third girl and had five sisters and two brothers.
Her Early Career
Similarly, her first job was at a Chinese restaurant. She worked at Bell’s Fashion, a company that exported brassieres to America. She used to sew there.
Later, Mary worked as an assistant for Foreman, helping him with the day-to-day tasks of his life. Her work for the boxer meant she had to leave the Caribbean and move to the United States.
Currently, she is actively involved in her husband’s charity works and is often seen with him attending various philanthropic events.
Martelly Met Her Husband Through Andrea Skeete at 19
The couple share a substantial age gap of over a decade. When the two met in 1983, Mary was 19, and George was 34. At the time, she used to babysit Freeda and George III when they met. What started as a professional relationship later turned into a fruitful union of two hearts.
Skeete, Foreman’s fourth wife, hired Joan to look after their children. In his book By George, he has briefly mentioned about the encounter.
Mary lived in Castries, the capital city of Saint Lucia when she met Andrea Skeete. At the time, Andrea was looking for a babysitter and found her who was then working for Bell’s Fashion. Upon her request, Joan agreed to work for her.
When the former athlete came to pick up his children, Joan was surprised to find him different from what Andrea had described.
Similarly, impressed with her work and charming personality, the boxer offered a job to Mary. She moved to his house and started working for him. Romance sparked between the lovebirds, and following his divorce from Andrea, they tied the knot soon after.
Joan has talked about how the boxer proposed with a diamond ring and asked her to marry. She has been his happily ever after since walking down the aisle on March 27, 1985.
Video: Mary Talks About Her Childhood And Relationship With The Boxer
Mary Was Everything George Wanted In a Wife
Before Mary, the former heavyweight champion had four failed marriages. From 1971 to 1985, George already had four failed marriages. Despite this, he has been married to his current wife for almost four decades.
He considers her the answer to his prayers. Thanking her at the beginning of his book, he wrote:
To my wife, Joan, who was the answer to my prayers. She came along when I needed her and gave me the best reason of all to live–and to love life.
The short but sweet text perfectly captures their relationship and how much Joan has done for the athlete.
Joan Has Eight Children
The former boxer and his current wife are parents to seven adorable children, among George’s 12 kids. Out of them, five are biological, and two are adopted.
Well, George IV, Leola, Natalie, George V, and George VI are the biological ones, and Isabella and Courtney are the adopted children of the lovebirds. None of them have followed their father into the ring.
Furthermore, Joan is reported to have a daughter from a previous relationship. The name and identity of the child have been kept away from the public.
Mary Joan Martelly Played a Pivotal Role in Her Husband’s Comeback in 1987
George’s wife Mary played a significant role in his return. When the boxer retired in 1977 following his near-death experience after his defeat against Jimmy Young, he turned to God and became an ordained minister.
However, he made a comeback in 1987. In his autobiography, he mentioned his wish to return was fueled by his desire to fund the youth center he had established.
Away from the ring for a decade, he was out of shape. Many fans criticized his decision to return. But his wife was there for him, motivating him throughout his journey.
He wrote in his memoir,
Joan acted as my first trainer, driving me five, eight, ten miles away, and dropping me off to run home. I found that I’d been blessed with another gift: willpower.
Her Work In Raising Awareness
Mary, after learning about the AIDS virus from Dr. Van Rios, has actively worked to raise awareness about it. Along with her husband, her efforts have been heavily recognized worldwide.
Her desire to organize awareness campaigns stems from the effects of the virus on people, particularly kids. Despite her extensive work, she does not seek the limelight. Knowing that she is able to make a difference is a reward in itself for her.
She was jointly honored with her husband at an event called ‘A World of Friends Fighting AIDS’ for their contributions to the campaigns.
Mary has also met the late Dr. Luc Montagnier, the man who discovered the HIV/AIDS virus. George had posted a picture of the meeting on Facebook.
Currently, the sweethearts live at their house in Houston, Texas. Even after four decades, the lovebirds are still close. Together, they are making a difference in people’s lives with their philanthropic work.