Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter's Journey
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History's only four-time world heavyweight boxing champion and one of America's most admired and beloved athletes reveals the dramatic story of his rise from poverty to the very pinnacle of the toughest sport on earth.
Barely able to make it into the heavyweight division and almost always the smaller fighter in the ring, Holyfield spent his professional career proving the naysayers wrong. Along the way he provided some of the twentieth century's most thrilling sports moments, not all of them on purpose. In Becoming Holyfield, he gives us the exciting inside story of defeating Mike Tyson, the self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on Earth," and then getting a piece of his ear bitten off in the rematch. We learn how it felt to become the undisputed champion of the world by knocking out the man who knocked out Tyson, and we find out what it was really like to be in the middle of a title fight and see a motorized parachute fly right into the ring.
There is heartbreak to go along with triumph, beginning with Holyfield's loss of an Olympic gold medal because of a highly controversial disqualification and continuing through his short-lived retirement following a misdiagnosed heart condition. Along the way we're treated to glimpses of such colorful figures as Don King and Howard Cosell and we come to understand the extra-ordinary power of love in shaping a young boy's life, and the love he tried to return. Holyfield made more money in the ring than any other fighter in history, and gave away millions to support the dreams of underprivileged kids looking for the same kinds of breaks that allowed him to become a champion.
Holyfield's immense popularity cannot be overstated, and it cuts across all ethnicities and socioeconomic classes. The top three highest-grossing sporting events in Las Vegas history were all Holyfield fights, and his highly rated appearances on Dancing with the Stars helped to ensure that show's success. Other fighters may have been bigger, stronger, or more flamboyant, but few could match Evander Holyfield's poise, grace under pressure, or commitment to serve as an inspiration to others.
“What’s the problem?” Finkel asked him. The doc looked back at the scale, like he was trying to make sure of something, then said, “Problem is, he weighs 171 now.” Sanders did a quick mental calculation, then his eyes got wide. “You telling me he lost fifteen pounds during the fight?” “What hurts, specifically?” the doc asked me. I didn’t know where to start. Everything hurt. Not only was I exhausted and dehydrated but I’d also just taken a thousand punches from a world champion fighter,
long-term effects. Once I’d gotten stabilized and could think clearly, Ken and I talked quietly. I remember telling him, “Man, I don’t know if I want to be the champion anymore. It’s too hard!” He nodded, but made me promise not to make any big decisions while I was still laid up. It was good advice. We talked for a few more minutes, and soon after I fell asleep. Ken was there when I woke up the next morning. “You hungry?” he asked. I hadn’t taken in any solid food since a few hours before
even though it would cost us a fortune, than fight someone who wasn’t a legitimate contender. And he had to be in fight shape, too. Lou nodded his agreement. “I got a guy in mind.” That was good news. So why did Lou look troubled? “Who?” He took a breath before answering. “Bert Cooper.” Oh, boy. Now I knew why Lou was less than thrilled. Cooper’s style was wildly different from Damiani’s, whom I’d been training for ever since the Tyson bout got canceled. Where Damiani was big, slow,
carrying a body bag on a stretcher. “At least let me see him,” I said to the officer as they put the stretcher in an ambulance. He nodded, and one of the guys zipped open the bag so I could see my brother’s face. Bo’s eyes were open, and there was no damage above his neck, so it looked like he was alive. It was hard to convince myself that he was gone. After the ambulance left they let me inside the house. It was an awful scene. Somebody had come for the kids, but Renee was still there, still in
still didn’t take his hand. “What do I do when I get home?” “What you’ve been doing your whole life.” “I’ve been boxing.” “Well, there you go. Do that.” Here was this guy telling me there was nothing wrong with my heart, so why was it pounding at about two hundred beats a minute? “Are you telling me to go back into the ring?” “No. I’m a doctor, and people get hurt in the ring, so why would I tell you to do that?” “Doc…” He laughed and sat down, and that’s when I knew he was toying with me,