Thursday, February 17, 2011

Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield was born on October 19, 1962, in the mill town of Atmore, Alabama. The youngest of nine children, Holyfield and his family moved to Atlanta in the summer of 1964, at the age of two. He began boxing at age 12 and won the Boys Club boxing tournament. At 13, he qualified to compete in his first Junior Olympics. By age 15, Holyfield became the Southeastern Regional Champion, winning this tournament and the Best Boxer Award. By 1984 he had a record of 160 wins and 14 losses, with 76 KO. When he was 20 years old, Holyfield represented the U.S. in the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, where he won a silver medal after losing to Cuban world champion Pablo Romero. The following year, he was the National Golden Gloves Champion, and won a bronze medal in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California after a controversial disqualification in the second round of the semi-final against New Zealand's Kevin Barry. Holyfield started out professionally as a light heavyweight with a televised win in six rounds over Lionel Byarm at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 1984. On January 20, 1985 he won another six-round decision over Eric Winbush in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On March 13, he knocked out Fred Brown in the first round in Norfolk, Virginia, and on April 20, he knocked out Mark Rivera in two rounds in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Both he and his next opponent, Tyrone Booze, moved up to the cruiserweight division for their fight on July 20, 1985 in Norfolk, Virginia. Holyfield won an eight-round decision over Booze. Evander went on to knock out Rick Myers in the first round on August 29 in Holyfield's hometown of Atlanta. On October 30 in Atlantic City he knocked out opponent Jeff Meachem in five rounds, and his last fight for 1985 was against Anthony Davis on December 21 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He won by knocking out Davis in the fourth round. He began 1986 with a knockout in three rounds over former world cruiserweight challenger Chisanda Mutti, and proceeded to beat Jessy Shelby and Terry Mims before being given a world title try by the WBA's world cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi. In what was called by The Ring as the best cruiserweight bout of the 1980s, Holyfield became world champion by defeating Qawi by a narrow 15 round split decision. He culminated 1986 with a trip to Paris, France, where he beat Mike Brothers by a knockout in three, in a non-title bout.

Evander Holyfield Video

In 1987, he defended his title against former Olympic teammate and Gold medal winner Henry Tillman, who had beaten Mike Tyson twice as an amateur. He retained his belt, winning by seventh round knockout, and then went on to unify his WBA belt with the IBF belt held by Ricky Parkey, knocking Parkey out in three rounds. For his next bout, he returned to France, where he retained the title with an eleven round knockout against former world champion Ossie Ocasio. In his last fight of '87, he offered Muhammad Qawi a rematch, and this time, he beat Qawi by a knockout in four. 1988 was another productive year for Holyfield; he started by becoming the first universally recognized world cruiserweight champion after defeating the WBC's defending world champion Carlos De León at the Las Vegas. The fight was stopped after eight rounds. After that fight, he announced he was moving up in weight to pursue the world heavyweight crown held by Tyson. His first fight as a Heavyweight took place on July 16, when he beat former Tyson rival James "Quick" Tillis by a knockout in five, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada (Tillis had gone the distance with Tyson). For his third and final bout of '88, he beat former world heavyweight champion Pinklon Thomas, also by knockout, in seven rounds. Holyfield began 1989 meeting another former world heavyweight champion, Michael Dokes. This fight would also be named one of the best fights of the 1980s by Ring magazine, as best heavyweight bout of the 1980s. Holyfield won by a knockout in the tenth round, and then he met Brazilian champion Adilson Rodrigues, who lasted two rounds. His last fight of the 1980s was against Alex Stewart, a hard punching fringe contender. Stewart shocked Holyfield early, with quick, hard punches, but eventually fell in eight. In 1990, Holyfield beat Seamus McDonagh, knocking him out in four rounds. By this time, Holyfield had been Ring Magazine's Number 1 contender for two years and had yet to receive a shot at Tyson's heavyweight title.

Holyfield had been promised a title shot against Tyson in 1990. Before that fight could occur, in what many consider to be the biggest upset in boxing history, relatively unknown boxer, 29-year old, 231 lb. James "Buster" Douglas defeated the 23-year old, 218 lb. Mike Tyson in ten rounds in Tokyo to become the new undisputed heavyweight champion. Instead of fighting Tyson, Holyfield would be Douglas' first title defense. They met on October 25, 1990. Douglas came into the fight at 246 lb. and offered little in the fight against Holyfield, who was in great shape at 208 lb. In the third round Douglas tried to start a combination with a big right uppercut. Holyfield countered with a straight right hand that was lightning quick, and Douglas went down for the count. Holyfield was the new undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. At the time of the knockout, Holyfield was ahead on all three judges' scorecards, all seeing it 20–18 for Holyfield. In his first defense, he beat former and future world champion George Foreman by unanimous decision in 12. The fight was billed as a "Battle for the Ages", a reference to the age differential between the young undefeated champion (28 years old), and the much older George Foreman (42 years old). Holyfield weighed in at 208 pounds and Foreman weighed in at 257 pounds. Foreman lost the fight by a unanimous decision, but surprised many by lasting the whole 12 rounds against a much younger opponent, even staggering Holyfield a few times and knocking him off balance in the seventh round. Then a deal was signed for him to defend his crown against Mike Tyson in November 1991. Tyson delayed the fight, claiming he was injured in training, but was then convicted for the rape of Desiree Washington and sentenced to six years in prison, so the fight did not happen at that time. They would fight in 1996 (Holyfield won by a TKO in 11) and a rematch in 1997 (Holyfield won by disqualification in 3, after Tyson bit both of his ears).

Holyfield made his next defense in Atlanta against Bert Cooper, who surprised him with a very good effort. Holyfield scored the first knockdown of the fight against Cooper with a powerful shot to the body, but Cooper returned the favor with a good right hand that sent Holyfield against the ropes; while not an actual knockdown, referee Mills Lane gave Holyfield a standing 8-count. Having suffered the first technical knockdown of his professional career, Holyfield regained his composure quickly and administered a beating that left Cooper still on his feet, but unable to defend himself. Holyfield landed brutal power shots, culminated by repeated vicious uppercuts that would snap Cooper's head back. Referee Mills Lane stopped the bout in the seventh. In his first fight of 1992, he faced former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, who was 42 years old, and had just pulled off an upset against Ray Mercer. During the bout, Holyfield suffered the first scar of his career with a gash opening up over his eye, the result of Holmes' elbow.The fight ended with a unanimous decision in favor of Holyfield. In the beginning of a trilogy of bouts with the 25-year old Riddick Bowe, who had won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics, in the Super Heavyweight division, he suffered his first defeat when Bowe won the undisputed title by a 12-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas. Round Ten of that bout was named the Round of the Year by Ring Magazine. Holyfield was knocked down in round 11. He made the mistake of getting into a slugfest with the younger, bigger and stronger Bowe, leading to his defeat. He began 1993 by beating Alex Stewart in a rematch, but this time over the 12-round unanimous distance. Then came the rematch with Bowe on November 6, 1993. In what is considered by many sporting historians as one of the most bizarre moments in boxing's history, during round seven the crowd got off their feet and many people started to run for cover and yell. Holyfield took his eyes off Bowe for one moment and then told Bowe to look up to the skies. What they saw was a man in a parachute flying dangerously close to them. The man almost entered the ring, but his parachute had gotten entangled in the lights, and he landed on the ropes and apron of the ring, and he was then pulled into the crowd, where he was beaten by members of Bowe's entourage. Bowe's pregnant wife, Judy, fainted and had to be taken to the hospital from the arena. Twenty minutes later, calm was restored and Holyfield went on to recover his world heavyweight titles with a close 12 round majority decision. The man who parachuted down to the middle of the ring became known as The Fan Man and the fight itself became known as the Fan Man Fight. His victory over Bowe that year helped Holyfield being named as ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year for 1993.

He told BBC Scotland's Sports Weekly "I'm gonna fight, be the heavyweight champion of the world one more time. Then I'm gonna write another book and tell everybody how I did it." On December 20, 2008 he fought, at the Hallenstadion in Zürich Switzerland, the WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev for a paycheck of $600,000, the lowest amount he has ever received for a championship fight. At the weigh-in, he weighed 214 pounds, Valuev weighed a career low of 310 pounds. Valuev defeated Holyfield by a highly controversial majority decision after a relatively uneventful bout. One judge scored the bout a draw 114–114, while the others had Valuev winning 116–112 and 115–114. Many analysts were outraged at the decision, thinking Holyfield had clearly won. There was talk of a rematch in 2009. The WBA did their own investigation into the controversial decision; "As the World Boxing Association (WBA) always cares about and respects the fans' and the media's opinion, the Championship Committee has ordered a panel of judges to review the tape of the fight between Nikolai Valuev and Evander Holyfield, for the WBA heavyweight title", read a statement from the WBA. The organization also expressed that they "will give a decision accordingly in the following weeks." Many speculated that an immediate rematch would be the most likely scenario, but this never materialised. Valuev lost the WBA title in his next fight against British boxer David Haye.

On February 28, 2007, Holyfield was anonymously linked to Applied Pharmacy Services, a pharmacy in Alabama that is currently under investigation for supplying athletes with illegal steroids and human growth hormone (HGH). He denies ever using performance enhancers. Holyfield's name does not appear in the law enforcement documents reviewed. However, a patient by the name of "Evan Fields" caught investigators' attention. "Fields" shares the same birth date as Holyfield—October 19, 1962. The listed address for "Fields" was 794 Evander, Fairfield, Ga. 30213. Holyfield has a very similar address. When the phone number that, according to the documents, was associated with the "Fields" prescription, was dialed, Holyfield answered. On March 10, 2007 Holyfield made a public announcement that he would be pursuing his own investigation into the steroid claims in order to clear his name. Holyfield was again linked to HGH in September 2007, when his name came up following a raid of Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, Florida. As of September 2007[update], Signature Pharmacy is under investigation for illegally supplying several professional athletes with steroids and HGH.

Holyfield is the younger brother of actor and dancer, Bernard Holyfield, and currently lives and trains in Fayette County, Georgia with his third wife Candi and their two children; he has at least eleven children. By 1992, Holyfield was already a household name, announcing multiple products on television, such as Coca Cola and Diet Coke. He also had a video game released for the Sega Genesis and the Sega Game Gear: Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing. After his conversion, he started professing his Christianity everywhere, reminding the public before and after his fights that he is a born-again Christian. In 1996 Holyfield was given the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch when it was on its way to his hometown of Atlanta for that year's Olympics. October 4 of this year he was married to Dr. Janice Itson, with whom he had one child. He founded Real Deal Records which signed the briefly successful group Exhale. On September 22, 2007 Holyfield released the Real Deal Grill cooking appliance via TV infomercials. The Real Deal Grill is manufactured by Cirtran Corp. Holyfield's popularity has led to numerous television appearances for the boxer. His first television show appearance was the Christmas special of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990, playing himself. In 2005, Holyfield came in fifth place on ABC's Dancing with the Stars with his partner Edyta Sliwinska. He also made an appearance on the original BBC Strictly Come Dancing "Champion of Champions" showdown, which featured the final four teams from the 2005 edition of the British series, plus two celebrities from spinoff versions, paired with British professional dancers, one featuring Holyfield paired with Karen Hardy, and Rachel Hunter paired with Brendan Cole. Holyfield also had minor roles in three movies during the 1990s, Summer of Sam, Necessary Roughness, and Blood Salvage (which he also produced). He made a guest appearance on Nickelodeon's Nickelodeon GUTS during its third season in 1994. He appeared once in an episode of Phineas and Ferb. In the episode he is an animated character but the producers wanted to make the most of Holyfield's ear, so his animated character was only given half an ear. On August 13, 2007, Holyfield was confirmed to participate in a boxing match at World Wrestling Entertainment's Saturday Night's Main Event against Matt Hardy. He replaced Montel Vontavious Porter, who had to pull out after being legitimately diagnosed with a heart condition that was not part of a storyline. In late 2007 and early 2008, Holyfield was among a number of celebrities to be doing television ads for the restaurant chain Zaxby's. In June 2008 a legal notice was placed by Washington Mutual Bank stating that Holyfield's $10 million, 54,000-square-foot (5,000 m2), 109 room, 17 bathroom suburban Atlanta estate would be auctioned off on July 1, 2008 due to foreclosure. Adding to his financial problems, Toi Irvin, mother of his 10 year old son, filed suit for non-payment of two months child support (he pays $3,000 per month for this child). A Utah landscaping firm also has gone to court seeking $550,000 in unpaid debt for services.

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