Holyfield, Evander 1962- (The Real Deal)

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Holyfield, Evander 1962- (The Real Deal)


Born October 19, 1962, in Atmore, GA; son of Annie Laura Holyfield; married Paulette (divorced, 1991); married Janice Itson, 1996 (divorced, 2000); married Candi Calvana Smith, July 3, 2003; children: six sons and five daughters. Hobbies and other interests: Basketball, dancing, and listening to music.


Office—Holyfield Foundation, 794 Evander Holyfield Hwy., Fairburn, GA 30213. Agent—Holyfield Management, 794 Evander Holyfield Hwy., Fairburn, GA 30213.


Boxer, businessperson, writer. Amateur boxer, c. 1972-84; professional boxer, 1984—. Fought as cruiserweight (190-pound division), 1984-88; won World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), and International Boxing Federation (IBF) championships; became undisputed cruiserweight champion, April, 1988; moved to heavyweight division, 1988; became undisputed heavyweight champion October 25, 1990, with third-round knockout of James "Buster" Douglas; retired briefly after losing decision to Riddick Bowe, November 13, 1992; became WBA/IBF heavyweight champion in a rematch with Bowe, November 6, 1993; lost WBA/IBF heavyweight title after being defeated by Michael Moorer, April 22, 1994; regained WBA heavyweight title by defeating Mike Tyson, November 9, 1996; regained IBF heavyweight title by defeating Michael Moorer, November 8, 1997; lost WBA/IBF heavyweight titles after being defeated by Lennox Lewis, November 13, 1999; retook WBA heavyweight title by defeating John Ruiz, August 12, 2000; lost WBA heavyweight title after being defeated by John Ruiz, March 3, 2001; retired, then announced return to professional boxing, 2006. Also Evander Holyfield Buick & Subaru, Atlanta, GA, partner; Real Deal Records, founder; Black Family Channel, partner. Worked for Epps Aviation, Atlanta, GA, prior to becoming a boxer. Appeared on numerous television shows, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 1990, and Dancing with the Stars, 2005; endorser of the Evander Holyfield Real Deal Grill, CirTran Corporation.


Silver medal, Pan American Games, 1983; bronze medal, Olympic Games, 1984.


(With brother, Bernard Holyfield) Holyfield: The Humble Warrior (memoir), T. Nelson Publishers (Nashville TN), 1996.

(With Lee Gruenfeld) Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter's Journey (memoir), Atria Books (New York, NY), 2008.


Evander Holyfield is the only professional boxer ever to win the world heavyweight championship four times. He is also the author of two memoirs, Holyfield: The Humble Warrior, written with his brother, Bernard Holyfield, and Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter's Journey, which he wrote with Lee Gruenfeld. Referring to Becoming Holyfield as "readable, relatively engaging," Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky added that Holyfield's book is "on balance, a solid sports autobiography that will generate significant interest." A Kirkus Reviews contributor stated that Becoming Holyfield is "an engaging story."

Becoming Holyfield provides a comprehensive view of Holyfield's life, both in and out of the ring. Holyfield and coauthor Gruenfeld provide readers with descriptions of Holyfield's experiences, starting with his young life of poverty through his long professional boxing career. Throughout the book, readers learn how Holyfield, the youngest of eight children, first developed an interest in boxing and are given an insider's view of the highs and lows of Holyfield's career, from losing an Olympic gold medal in 1984 due to a controversial disqualification, to rising to the top of the professional boxing world and winning the coveted heavyweight boxing title. Despite being six feet, two inches tall, Holyfield was long considered to be too small to fight in the heavyweight division. "Undaunted by his many doubters, who thought his lighter weight meant he wasn't as powerful as his opponents, Holyfield steadily rose through the heavyweight ranks to become the undisputed heavyweight champion in 1990," wrote a contributor to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture.

Holyfield and Gruenfeld write extensively about Holyfield's numerous boxing matches. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews noted: "Boxing fans will especially relish his appraisal of such formidable opponents as Riddick Bowe, Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis and George Foreman as well as [Mike] Tyson." When Holyfield fought Tyson, many observers of the sport gave him little chance to beat a man who regularly demolished opponents and seemed to be almost unbeatable, despite Tyson having lost a fight to Douglas in what some described as a fluke mostly due to Tyson's overconfidence. As for Holyfield's chances against Tyson, a contributor to Sports Stars noted that veteran boxing trainer Eddie Futch had commented: "I feel Holyfield is in danger because of Tyson's power and quickness. … I don't give him much chance at all."

Despite the many doubters, Holyfield entered the fight with Tyson supremely confident that he would win the World Boxing Association (WBA) title. According to the same contributor to Sports Stars, Holyfield announced: "I will beat Mike Tyson…. There is no way I cannot, … I just trust in God. God is that good. The victory's already there. I've just got to do my work to ensure myself that I really want victory." Holyfield lived up to his prediction, defeating Tyson in the eleventh round. As a result, he became only the second fighter to win the heavyweight championship three times, matching boxing legend Mohammed Ali. As is described in Becoming Holyfield, Holyfield went on to become the undisputed heavyweight champion by winning fights with Michael Moorer to capture the International Boxing Federation (IBF) championship and defeating Lennox Lewis to attain the World Boxing Council (WBC) title. Holyfield, however, lost a rematch with Lewis, costing him both the WBA and IBF titles. The persistent boxer then followed up with an August 2000 bout with John Ruiz, in which Holyfield emerged victorious in twelve rounds, once again gaining the WBA title and making him the only boxer to win the world heavyweight championship for a fourth time. He eventually lost the title the following March in a rematch with Ruiz.

Despite being more than forty years old, which is considered a very advanced age for professional fighting, Holyfield decided to continue his career in pursuit of a fifth heavyweight championship. In a 2006 interview with Fran Blinebury for the Houston Chronicle, Holyfield explained why he decided to continue to fight, noting: "Because that's been my plan, my goal, my quest, ever since I first got into the ring as a professional boxer…. Even before that, when I was kid who started out with a dream: to retire as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world." In a 2007 interview, Holyfield told USA Today contributor Chuck Johnson: "There's nothing I can't do at the age of 44 that I did when I was 25 or 26. … The difference is that I can't do it as long. The important thing for me is to gauge my body to make sure I don't wear out and leave my fight in the gym."

While Becoming Holyfield goes into great depth regarding Holyfield's boxing career, the book also provides a look at the author's life outside of the ring, including his childhood living in near destitution and his first job making less than three dollars an hour with Epps Aviation in Atlanta, Georgia. Readers are also provided with profiles of many of the notable sports players that Holyfield has interacted with during his career, from the renowned broadcaster Howard Cosell and controversial boxing promoter Don King to onetime heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, with whom Holyfield has a longtime relationship. Also discussed are the murder of his older brother, the death of his mother, and his various relationships with women.

While Holyfield has pursued a violent profession, he has taken a much different approach than other fighters, especially Mike Tyson. Holyfield has often noted that an individual does not have to be mean to be a successful fighter. "Holyfield has always credited his success to two factors—his religious faith and the inspiration provided by his mother," noted a contributor to Contemporary Black Biography. For example, Holyfield gives credit to his mother for making him a strong person who tries to do the right thing. "I'm just one woman away, my mother, from being the same as Mike Tyson," Holyfield told Donald McRae in an interview for the London Guardian, referring to Tyson's numerous encounters with the law and time spent in prison. He added, "I would've ended up like him if my mama had not been so tough and strong. A lot of people, including Mike, don't know I came from the ghetto. They think I'm too nice and proper. But that's the way my mama raised me—to look people in the eye and respect them."



Holyfield, Evander, and Bernard Holyfield, Holyfield: The Humble Warrior, T. Nelson Publishers (Nashville, TN), 1996.

Holyfield, Evander, and Lee Gruenfeld, Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter's Journey, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Newsmakers 1991, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1991 Notable Sports Figures, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004.

Sports Stars, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2000.


Booklist, March 1, 2008, Wes Lukowsky, review of Becoming Holyfield, p. 42.

Business Wire, October 1, 2007, "CirTran Introduces ‘Real Deal Grill’ with National TV Infomercial Blitz," author information; May 21, 2008, "Evander Holyfield ‘Real Deal Grill’ from CirTran Goes Global," author information.

Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2007, "Steroids Link Angers Holyfield," author information.

Current Biography, August, 1993, "Holyfield, Evander," author information, p. 15.

Dallas Morning News, August 13, 2006, "Evander Holyfield Is Fighting Doubts: Four-Time Champion Is Out to Rule the Heavyweight World Again—at Age 43"; August 19, 2006, "Holyfield Needs Only Two Rounds: Former Heavyweight Champion Scores First KO Victory since 1997."

Ebony, January, 1991, Douglas C. Lyons, "Evander Holyfield: Coping with Sudden Success; Fans, Lawsuit, Multi-Million Dollar Offers Change the Life of Businessman Champion," p. 48; February, 1997, Laura B. Randolph, "The Lady and the Champ: Evander Holyfield Says God and a Good Wife Helped Him Whip Tyson," p. 66.

Economist, August 22, 1992, "The Punch Director," author information, p. 80.

Forbes, December 19, 1994, Dyan Machan and Vicki Contavespi, "‘Compounded Interest Are Our Favorite Words,’" discussion of author's finances, p. 244.

Fresno Bee, June 8, 2008, "From the Sideline: Holyfield Stick and Moves," author information.

Guardian (London, England), February 28, 2008, Donald McRae, "‘Mama's Whipping Meant I Didn't Wind Up Like Tyson,’" author interview.

Houston Chronicle, November 9, 2006, Fran Blinebury, "Evander Holyfield, 44, Wants to Retire as the Heavyweight Champion of the World; One Last Jab at Glory," author interview, p. 1; January 18, 2007, John Handy, "Heavyweight Messenger; Holyfield: Be in Your Child's Life; Former Boxing Champ Talks to Fathers about Their Role as a Parent," p. 1; June 28, 2007, Peter Lim, "Literally, One for the Ages; Holyfield, Savarese Turn Back Time; Aging Fighters Defying the Clock in Last Shots for Championship Glory," p. 9; July 1, 2007, Fran Blinebury, "Holyfield Notches Win; Four-Time Champ Outslugs Savarese, Stays on Target for Shot at Title," p. 4; October 14, 2007, "Russia's Ibragimov Gets Best of Holyfield; American Loses Unanimous Decision to WBO Titleholder," p. 7; June 6, 2008, "Holyfield's Next Opponent: Creditors; Boxer's Mansion to Be Auctioned Off to Repay Huge Debts," p. 8.

Jet, March 14, 1994, "Holyfield Blasts Critics Who Say He's Not a Heavyweight"; December 9, 1996, "Evander Holyfield Credits God, Wife and Family for Championship," p. 46; September 5, 2005, "Banned from Boxing in New York," author information, p. 48; September 4, 2006, "Evander Holyfield Returns to Ring; Wins by TKO," p. 59; June 23, 2008, "Boxer Evander Holyfield Faces Money Woes," p. 50; June 30, 2008, Melody K. Hoffman, "Holyfield: He's ‘Not Broke’; Atlanta House No Longer in Foreclosure," p. 35.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2008, review of Becoming Holyfield.

Library Journal, February 15, 2008, Jim Burns, review of Becoming Holyfield, p. 111.

Miami Herald, October 15, 2007, "Holyfield to Keep Fighting."

Newsweek, November 11, 1996, Mark Starr, "Nice Man, Nasty Business: Will Evander Holyfield's Best Qualities—Courage and Faith—Get Him Beaten to a Pulp by Mike Tyson?," p. 70; June 30, 1997, Allison Samuels and Mark Starr, "Will He Get Up?," author information, p. 80.

New York Times, April 20, 1997, Lynn Hirschberg, "Spike Lee's 30 Seconds," author information.

Philadelphia Daily News, April 20, 2005, "Lend an Ear, Tyson-Holyfield a Notion to Chew On"; April 4, 2007, "Hopkins vs. Holyfield a Boxing Writer's Dream."

Physician and Sportsmedicine, July, 1994, Jacqueline White, "Holyfield's Fatigue Linked to His Heart," p. 19.

Sporting News, November 15, 1993, Dave Kindred, "Brains Beat Brawn in Round 2," p. 8; May 9, 1994, Kindred, "Simply Put, Holyfield Fought His Heart Out," p. 7.

Sports Illustrated, April 29, 1991, Pat Putnam, "No Joke: Evander Holyfield Discovered that George Foreman Was to Be Taken Seriously," p. 22; November 15, 1993, Putnam, "Wild Night," coverage of heavyweight title fight, p. 20; November 18, 1996, Richard Hoffer, "Real Deal," p. 28; June 30, 1997, Hoffer, "Lovestruck," p. 22; July 7, 1997, Hoffer, "Feeding Frenzy," p. 32; October 6, 2003, "Q+A Evander Holyfield," p. 26; December 29, 2003, Hoffer, "Too Much Heart: Driven by His Ambition to Reclaim the Heavyweight Belts, 41-year-old Evander Holyfield Soldiered On, Even at the Risk of a Tragic Ending," p. 104.

Time, April 22, 1991, John Skow, "It's Coming Back to Me Now! At 42, George Foreman Is Duking It Out for the Heavyweight Boxing Crown with a Much Younger Man, and Middle-Aged Wheezers Everywhere Are following His Lead," p. 78; March 15, 1999, Joel Stein, "Evander Holyfield," author interview, p. 94.

USA Today, June 28, 2007, "Holyfield, 44, Chuck Johnson, ‘Sees’ Fifth Heavyweight Championship," p. 12; October 12, 2007, Chuck Johnson, "Holyfield, Nearly 45, Goes for Fifth Title," p. 12.

U.S. News & World Report, November 19, 1990, Tom Callahan, "Rating Players of Yesteryear," author information, p. 71; June 30, 1997, Jonah Blank, "The Greater Struggle," author information, p. 9.

Xinhua News Agency, August 19, 2006, "Holyfield Makes Winning Comeback."


ajc.com,http://www.ajc.com/ (June 6, 2008), Jeff Schultz, "Difficult Times for Evander Holyfield."

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation,http://www.cbc.ca/ (June 6, 2008), "Evander Holyfield's Mansion under Foreclosure."

Evander Holyfield Home Page,http://www.evanderholyfield.com (September 8, 2008).

ParentDish,http://www.parentdish.com/ (July 4, 2008), Sandy Maple, "Evander Holyfield a Deadbeat Dad?"

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