Five-time heavy weight champion of the world, Evander “the Real Deal” Holyfield recently visited the Gene Lewis Boxing Club in Mesa. He spoke to more than 100 young people about his values and how he became a true boxing legend.
Holyfield told the attendees that his career started at a Boys and Girls Club in Atlanta, Georgia. He could not afford to pay the 25-cent price for admission. The club receptionist took the money from her purse and started a boxing career that is unparalleled in history. Holyfield spoke for almost an hour about his life and provided inspiration when he described how he succeeded by persevering and overcoming obstacles.
Holyfield’s boxing career includes a bronze medal won at the 1984 Olympics and victories over Dwight Qwai for his first heavy weight belt in 1986. He had an intense rivalry with Riddick Bowe, to whom he lost the title in 1992 and then regained it with a rematch against Bowe in 1993. Holyfield’s fight against Mike Tyson is one of the most memorable fights in boxing history. During the 1996 bout, Tyson twice bit Holyfield’s ear taking a large piece of his left ear. Tyson was disqualified.
After boxing, Holyfield has been very active including an appearance on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2005. His skilled footwork attracted praise from the judges. Holyfield has devoted his time to helping young people. The Holyfield Foundation provides support for numerous programs for inner-city children.
His dedication to the lives of children brought him the the Gene Lewis Boxing Club. The club promotes decency and prevents delinquency through service to boys and girls of all walks of life. Holyfield’s appearance at the club provided an outstanding example of how dedication and perseverance are rewarded.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Holyfield spent time shaking hands with almost everyone in attendance. This rare display of attention from a professional athlete of Holyfield’s stature will be remembered by all the young boxers and perhaps a future champion.
– Ted Wendel is photographer for MyNewsMesa.com.