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Evander Holyfield

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No one could have imagined how much excitement Evander Holyfield would inject into heavyweight boxing as a picture-perfect right-hand counter to the jaw of Buster Douglas was about to land. Stop the punch. Think about it. The epic battles with legends George Foreman and Larry Holmes. The thrilling give-and-take brawl with Bert Cooper. The exciting trilogy with Riddick Bowe. Always, in victory or defeat, Evander thrilled sports fans everywhere. But more important, his behavior before and after his bouts was as equally impressive.

In an age where sports fans are desperately looking for a hero, Evander fits the bill. He has never been on strike. He has never committed a felony. He is, fortunately, the exception to the current rival. Even during his greatest accomplishment -- the recapturing of the heavyweight championship from Bowe -- he remained humble and would just "Thank God". It was at this moment that he could have easily gone on an "I told you so" sermon when not a soul in the world thought he could handle Bowe in the rematch.

It was Nov. 6, 1993, when 12 months of agony came to an end for Evander. The 400-pound gorilla was off his back. No more sleepless nights. He did exactly what he knew he could do all along. He beat Bowe and recaptured the heavyweight crown. Ironically, it was his performance 358 days earlier in their first bout that opened the eyes of everyone.

As the final bell sounded on Friday, the 13th of November, 1992, Holyfield had solidified his place in heavyweight boxing history. Acclaimed by many experts as the best heavyweight title fight since AIi-Frazier, Holyfield-Bowe I set a standard for ring warfare that was not matched until Bowe-Holyfield II. It was during the 10th round that the Atlanta native proved once and for all that he had been right all along -- that it is "not the size of the man but the size of his heart that matters."

In his first defense after regaining the crown, Holyfield dropped a majority decision to southpaw Michael Moorer. He could have contested the scoring of the close bout which he had scored the only knockdown, but instead he praised the new champion and his efforts. That night in April 1994 now serves as the basis of his drive to regain the heavyweight championship.

Shortly after that bout Holyfield was diagnosed with having a heart condition known as a non-compliant left ventricle. It appeared that the classy champion's sensational career was over. Unfortunately for Ray Mercer, it wasn't. In the ensuing months, Holyfield was retested at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, where he was given a clean bill of health and able to resume his boxing career. So after a 13-month layoff, Holyfield went toe-to-toe with the best Ray Mercer ever for seven rounds.

Midway through the eighth, the referee temporarily stopped the action to let the ringside physician examine a nasty cut that had developed over Holyfield's right eye. Sensing the fight could be stopped, Holyfield dropped the undroppable Mercer with a series of left hooks to the body and jaw. Holyfield took control of the rest of the fight and won a 10-round decision, but it was his clutch performance in Round 8 that proved to everyone that the warrior had returned.

Already an Olympic medalist and three-time world champion at 190 pounds, Holyfleld scored a spectacular one-punch, third-round knockout of Buster Douglas in October 1990 to win the undisputed heavyweight title. Dedicating his championship to "the children" just moments after winning it, this soft-spoken gentlemen made it obvious that the moniker "Baddest Man on the Planet" did not fit this heavyweight king. "I dedicate my title to the children as proof to all of them that with hard work and dedication, they can succeed at whatever they choose to do in life", he explained.

The youngest of four brothers and four sisters, he graduated from Fulton High School (Atlanta, GA) in 1980. Holyfield had supported himself as an amateur boxer by working at Epps Air service, where he would pump fuel into airplanes. He also became a certified swim instructor who worked summers as a lifeguard.

Holyfield has five children: Evander Jr., Ashley Renee, Ebony, Ewin and Emani.

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