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Evander Holyfield

"you Finish It Out"

Evander Holyfield was born in Atmore, Alabama, on October 19, 1962, the youngest in a family of eight headed by his mother Annie. When Evander was 5, Annie moved the family to Atlanta, Georgia, where Evander grew up. Nicknamed "Chubby" as a child, Evander was remembered as a rather quiet and unaggressive boy, who tended to avoid fights. But at the age of 8 he started taking boxing lessons at the nearby Warren Memorial Boys Club from Carter Morgan, the Center's boxing coach. According to Holyfield's brother, Bernard, "What initially lured Evander into the ring was the attention he received from Carter Morgan. In a way, that crusty, freckle-faced coach was the father figure Chubby had always wanted." Before long he was participating in pee wee boxing tournaments in Atlanta, where he was undefeated for two years.

But while he enjoyed boxing, Holyfield's first love was football. He did quite well as a linebacker for the Warren Boys Club team, and dreamed of making the football team in high school. He did make the team as a sophomore at Fulton High School, but the results were frustrating for Holyfield. At five-foot-four inches and 115 pounds, Holyfield was just too small, and game after game he found himself warming the bench. It got so bad that he decided to quit before the end of the season, and told his mother of his decision. She ended the conversation with a simple declaration: "You finish it out."

Indeed, to this day, Holyfield attributes much of his later success to his mother's determination to foster this kind of character in her children. She instilled in him a strong work ethic, a refusal to quit in the face of adversity, and a deep Christian faith that has often carried him through difficult times. Even now, when he signs autographs, he often includes a citation for a Biblical verse. He also gives generously to churches in Atlanta and elsewhere.

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