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Evander Holyfield

The Rise Of A Boxer

With football proving a disappointment, despite his best efforts, Holyfield returned to boxing, which had the advantage of different weight divisions. He began training seriously with Coach Morgan, who pushed the youth to test his limits, and transcend them. At times, the coach seemed to be driving Holyfield too hard, but Morgan expressed such faith in his potential that Holyfield struggled to be worthy of that faith. Then came a major setback. When Holyfield was 16, Morgan died following a long illness. Again he contemplated quitting, feeling that without Morgan pushing him there was no reason to go on. "Then," recalled his brother Bernard, in Holyfield: The Humble Warrior, co-written with Evander, "with a jolt of clarity, Evander realized that their last few training sessions together must have been harder on the ailing coach than on himself. With the clear judgement of hindsight, Evander recognized that the old man's relentless goading had not been based on loss of patience but rather on loss of time." Suddenly it seemed that quitting would be an insult to Morgan's memory. Holyfield returned to the gym to train with Morgan's son, Ted.

Holyfield's next big inspiration occurred when the Olympic Trials came to Atlanta in 1980. Watching the competition closely, he began to see himself as a gold medal contender. It was a question of training and experience, and he knew how and where to get both. After graduating from high school, he worked two jobs, as a lifeguard and as a plane fueler. But mostly he trained, getting up at four in the morning to jog before work and training at the gym after work. He almost never missed a workout, and rested only on Sundays.


1962 Born October 19 in Atmore, Alabama.
1967 Family moves to Atlanta, Georgia
1970 Begins boxing lessons at Warren Memorial Boys Club, trains with Carter Morgan
1978 Death of Carter Morgan, trainer and mentor
1980 Begins amateur boxing
1984 Birth of Evander's first son, Evander Jr., with fiancée Paulette Bowen
1984 Participates on Olympic Boxing Team, gets to finals
1984 Begins professional boxing, as a cruiserweight
1985 Marries Paulette Bowen, May 17
1988 Becomes undisputed World Cruiserweight Champion
1989 Begins boxing as heavyweight, undertakes "Project Omega" to bulk up
1990 Becomes undisputed World Heavyweight Champion
1990 Paulette files for divorce
1992 Loses heavyweight title to Riddick Bowe, October
1993 Regains WBA and IBF heavyweight title from Bowe, November 6
1994 Loses heavyweight title, to Michael Moorer
1996 Mother, Annie, dies after car accident
1996 Marries Dr. Janice Itson, October 3
1996 Defeats Mike Tyson, November 9
1997 In third round of rematch, Mike Tyson bites off part of Holyfield's ear
1997 November, retakes IBF heavyweight title, from Michael Moorer
1998 Settles paternity suit filed by Tamie Dewan Evans, who claims Holyfield is the father of her daughter; court records sealed
1999 March, controversial "draw" in fight with Lennox Lewis lets him keep title
1999 April, Janice files for divorce
1999 November, loses title to Lennox Lewis in rematch
2000 Divorce from Janice finalized, July 10
2000 Wins WBA title from John Ruiz

A Plethora of Titles

One of the more confusing aspects of boxing is the presence of three major organizations, each of which has a champion in 16 different weight classes (including the junior weight classes). These organizations are the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), and the International Boxing Federation (IBF), and at any one time there may be a different champion in each organization. At other times, one man may hold the title in two of these, or the title might be vacant. To be undisputed champion in a weight class means that a fighter holds the title in all three organizations.

He also fought in the Golden Gloves amateur competitions. Between 1980 and 1984 he racked up an impressive record of 160 wins against 14 losses, with 75 knockout wins. He also won the national Golden Gloves amateur title in 1982 and the National Sports Festival boxing title in 1983. And in 1984, he qualified for the Olympic boxing team. Unfortunately, the 1984 Olympics proved somewhat disappointing. After knocking out three opponents, he was disqualified in the championship match after allegedly hitting an opponent a second after the referee had ordered the fighters to separate. This call remains highly controversial, and to this day, Holyfield says, people still ask him, "What

Evander Holyfield, left

happened at the Olympics?" Holyfield did get a bronze medal, but after the controversial decision, it seemed more like a badge of shame.

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Famous Sports StarsBoxingEvander Holyfield Biography - "you Finish It Out", The Rise Of A Boxer, Chronology, A Plethora Of Titles - SELECTED WRITINGS BY HOLYFIELD: