Words of Wisdom From Evander Holyfield


I had the pleasure of spending time with one of the greatest athletes of our time – boxing champion Evander Holyfield.  He is a remarkable man with a powerful message.

“Kids only do what you allow them to do. My mama was in charge. My friends said I was gonna be a sissy cause my mama made me stay inside while I had friends who were out doing bad stuff. It was not worth it. I did not want to upset my mama. I’d walk in the door and she’d hug me and sniff me at the same time to make sure I wasn’t doing something I shouldn’t be.

I was a tattle tale. If she asked me something, I told her everything. She said that you can’t be “prejudiced toward the white people. Inside the crayon box, there are many colors.”

The man in my life was a white man. He told me that he didn’t want me to be like Ali, always running his mouth, just like my mama always said. This coach bought me my food, my everything.

When I lost, I quit boxing at 12. Mama made me go back. My coach realized when mama made me go back that there was something special about me – a mama who wouldn’t let her kid quit.

I signed a contract for a million dollars. My siblings said, ‘Wow, we’re rich.’ My mama said, ‘Hold on. YOU are not rich. He’s rich because he did every single thing I told him to do.’

I had hepatitis. I was fighting for 9 million dollars. So I prayed. God spoke to me and told me that I was gonna knock that guy down but that I’d needed to stay down on top of him. Every time he hit me, my stomach hurt sooo much. I knocked him down but I didn’t do what God told me to. He won but I was NOT not gonna fight, even if I was sick.

As a result of that fight, we got a call from Mike Tyson. I flew to Canada to meet him. Don King said we’ll pay you $4 million. I said, ‘Tell Mike Tyson to go fight himself.’

They came back and we finally agreed to 10 million and they said if I won, Don King was gonna sign me. I said, ‘Tell you what. I’ll sign if the contract says if I win, I don’t have to fight again.’ They agreed. They made me take the steroid test but they didn’t make him take the test. I told ‘em let’s keep the results a secret until the end. They kept telling Mike I was winning cause I was probably on steroids. At the end, we went back into a room and opened my results. They were negative but I already knew that.

I need God. I mess up too much so that’s why I need to be a Christian. I need Him to win.

I met my dad for the first time when I was 21. I said thank you Lord. My mama got mad cause I liked him so I asked her why she brought me to see him. She said she wanted him to see how she had raised a good, strong, real man. I bought him a house and that made her mad. I reminded her of all the things she taught me. She said, ‘I raised you too well.’

My mama didn’t have education and she didn’t have money, but she and my grandmama gave me Christ and that’s how I became the man I am today.”

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