ATLANTA, GA — Four-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield spent time this week with young inmates at Fulton County Jail, sharing a message of inspiration.
Holyfield, 55, the only boxer ever to hold both the undisputed heavyweight and cruiserweight titles, spoke Tuesday with 17 year olds being held at the Atlanta facility.
"I was given the opportunity to come here to speak with these young people and give them the same opportunity that was given to me," Holyfield said, in a news release from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. "You don’t choose your parents. You don’t choose your neighborhood. You don’t choose your skin color. I wouldn’t be who I am if there wasn’t people like myself that came in and inspired me to want to be better."
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Holyfield was born the youngest of nine children in Atmore, Alabama. His family would later move to Atlanta and he grew up in the now-defunct Bowen Homes housing project in the Bankhead neighborhood. After an amateur career that saw him win a bronze medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Holyfield captured the three major cruiserweight belts in 1988.
He moved up to heavyweight and, in 1990, defeated Buster Douglas to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. He would go on to have classic fights with the likes of Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis before eventually fighting his last fight in 2011.
Last year, Holyfield’s sprawling estate in Fayetteville, south of Atlanta, was sold to rapper Rick Ross. Also last year, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that a statue of Holyfield will be erected in Woodruff Park.
Photos courtesy Fulton County Sheriff’s Office