Evander Holyfield and Edyta Sliwinska
Evander Holyfield Biography:
Born on October 19, 1962 in Atmore, Alabama, heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield started boxing when he was only 12 years old. He joined the Boys Club boxing tournament and came out the winner, and a year later, became eligible to participate in his the Junior Olympics. Holyfield gained the title Southeastern Regional Champion and the award for Best Boxer when he was 15, and in 1983, at the age of 17, was already competing at the Pan American Games, as the representative of the United States. From that competition, he emerged with a gold medal, but in 1984, during the Summer Olympic Games, he finished only with a bronze medal after being disqualified in the second round of the semifinals. Holyfield made his first appearance as a professional boxer when he competed against and ultimately defeated Lionel Byram in a televised boxing match. He was a cruiserweight then, and from 1986, went on to fight and beat other big names in the sport, such as Chisanda Mutti, Jessy Shelby, Terry Mims and Mike Brothers. He snatched the title of world champion from Dwight Muhammad Qawi, and eventually, in 1988, expressed his desire to move up to Heavyweight level in order to take the crown from legendary and controversial boxer, Mike Tyson. As a heavyweight, he went up against and won over boxing champions like James “Quill” Tillis, Pinklon Thomas, Michael Dokes, Adilson Rodrigues and Alex Stewart. Eventually, Holyfield was able to capture the heavyweight crown, but not from Mike Tyson. Tyson lost to James “Buster” Douglas during a bout in Tokyo, leaving Holyfield with no other option but to go against Douglas, whom he defeated after three rounds. During his attempt to defend his heavyweight title, he faced boxing legends like George Foreman, Bert Cooper, Larry Holmes and Riddick Bowe. In 1994, Holyfield lost the heavyweight crown to Michael Moorer when he dislocated his shoulder. Upon getting a check-up, it was revealed that Holyfield had a heart condition. Initially, he planned to retire from the sport he loved so much, but his friendship with preacher Benny Hinn strengthened him, and after attending one of the preacher’s healing sessions, Holyfield passed the health examination of the Boxing Commission. He made a huge comeback by beating Olympic Gold medalist, Ray Mercer and former world champion, Bobby Czyz. In 1996, Holyfield finally got to face Mike Tyson in the ring, and their first bout finished in Holyfield’s favor. He gave Tyson a rematch, and the fight that took place became one of the most memorable and strangest events in boxing history. During the rematch, Tyson bit both of Holyfield’s ears, leading to the former’s disqualification. Although Holyfield went on to defend his title after his fights with Tyson, many people often identify Holyfield with what is now known as “The Bite Fight.”
Holyfield has certainly had a colorful and exciting boxing career, but his passion for the sport has not stopped him from exploring other projects. For one, he appeared in the first season of Dancing with the Stars in 2005, where he was paired with dancer Edyta Sliwinska
. The heavyweight champion and Sliwinska ultimately finished in fifth place.
(Photo courtesy of ABC)