Evander Holyfield Heart of Champion: Why Evander Holyfield Refuses to Retire
In many ways, Evander Holyfield remains that bright-eyed kid who first learned the fundamentals of boxing at the Warren Memorial Boys Club in southeast Atlanta. The youth center that provided a place for Holyfield to hone his boxing skills also emphasized the importance of being dedicated to achievement.
That dedication allowed Holyfield to ascend from the Bowen Homes housing projects to become one of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport. When Holyfield’s past is examined, it becomes apparent why he believes that he can become the oldest person to win a world heavyweight championship belt and the first five-time champion. On Dec. 20, the 46-year-old Holyfield will offer himself up against a 7-foot-tall, 320-pound WBA champion named Nikolai Valeuv in Switzerland. Those close to Holyfield and sanctioned boxing committees have encouraged him to retire.
In 2005, the New York State Athletic Commission revoked his boxing license due to diminished skills and poor performance. In spite of his detractors, Holyfield will never assume the position or traits of a quitter. “I don’t believe in quitting,” Holyfield says. “You have to always set goals in life. When you fall, get back up and continue to try. If you don’t quit, you will find a way to win.” Holyfield also garners encouragement from President-elect Barack Obama.
The tremendous odds that Obama overcame to become president have proven Holyfield’s theory to be correct. “Barack Obama’s victory shows what will happen if you never quit,” he says. “Obama and I were born in the same year. I’m sure someone told him that he couldn’t become president, but he didn’t listen. At some point, he had to dream and believe that he could be president.”
Although questions will continue to linger around Holyfield’s motives for remaining in boxing, he sees himself as a living example of the power of possibility. “I was an underprivileged kid who would not have gotten an opportunity if it wasn’t for the boys club,” he emotes. “It’s all about giving back and making other people’s dreams come true. You may not get there when you want to, but you will eventually get there if you work hard.”-amir shaw