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Evander Holyfield is the only heavyweight boxing champion in the world to ever win the title four times. He is 6’2”, weighs 217 lbs. and lives with his wife Candi and children in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though he is a very strong man with lots of muscle, he spoke to us in a soft voice with a lot of wisdom.

Can you tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to know about you?
People think I must’ve been a brave kid all of my life but I wasn’t. I was very afraid of getting hurt but I grew out of it once I turned 18.

What was your most meaningful moment as a kid?
I had a lot of them. The big part I liked of being a kid… I was a Mama’s boy and loved my Mama and just loved laying my head on her arm.

Has anyone ever made fun of you or put you down?
I grew up very poor and people put me down all the time. They laughed at us all the time. They told me I would never be anything. They told me I’d never finish elementary school. People just called me dumb. My mother said you can’t let words hurt you. You have to strive to do unto a person that you want them to do to you. You learn not to fight fire with fire.

When did you decide to become a boxer?
At 8 years old. At 8 I was told that I could be heavyweight champion of the world. And I told the guy I’m only 8 and he said, “you won’t always be 8.” I believed him because the next week I was going to be 9.

Is it true that your father was not around when you were young?
I never met my father until I was 21 and I was already a millionaire and I felt like I didn’t need my father. When I was a kid and I’d tell my mother I miss my Dad, my mother would tell me, “When you become a father you’ll know how your kids will feel if you don’t spend time with them.” My mother taught me to appreciate all of the people that God put in my path.

Did you get along with your siblings?
I’m the youngest of nine so they were all bigger than me and I learned how to fight. We always go along and we still do.

Who did you look up to as a kid and why?
My mother is my hero. She was such an inspiration. My mother always taught me to be myself.

What was your most embarrassing sports moment?
I was 11 when I lost my first fight. I did something illegal. I picked the guy up and threw him down and started hitting him while he was down. That was against the rules and regulations. But my coach told me to beat him up but I guess he didn’t mean to do that.

How were you as a student as a kid?
I was a good listener. I followed directions real well. But I was a “C” student. I didn’t get the early training that a lot of kids get. My mother only had a sixth grade education. But my mother taught us to work harder than everybody.

Were you scared of getting really hurt in the ring?
Yes! I used to think about it all the time when I was a kid. I felt that I would stop boxing at 17 because at 17 you see that people start getting knocked out so I was very afraid that that possibly could happen to me but I got over it.

What was your favorite moment boxing?
When I was in the Olympics. I felt very proud representing the country. In the Olympics you’re a hero for the United States. Most of the time you’re a hero for yourself. But in the Olympics it wasn’t a selfish thing. You’re fighting for your country.

What do you feel like when you lose a match?
When you don’t do well you feel like quitting. But because I was taught that not everything is going to go your way all the time just don’t quit. My mother told me if you quit because things don’t go your way you’ll be quitting your whole life. I had a lot of setbacks but because I didn’t quit I was the only person in this whole wide world to be able to become the heavyweight champion of the world four times.

What was it like to have your earlobe bit off?
It wasn’t my earlobe, it was just the tip (he showed us the top part of his ear). It hurt. It was surprising that someone would actually bite you in boxing.

What advice do you have for kids about making their dreams come true?
Listen, follow directions and not quit. Then you’ll succeed.

Cartoon character: Fred Flinstone
Ice cream flavor: Chocolate
Movie: Scarface
Toy as a kid: Bicycle
Color: Blue
Animal: Dog
Food: Ice cream
Drink: Coke
President: Clinton
Ride at Disney World: Space mountain
Car: Escalade
Person to punch: Mike Tyson

Tell us something your mother always told you as a kid.
Brush your teeth.

Superman boxes against Batman, who wins?
Superman, because he’s made of steel.

Evander Holyfield