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Angered by People Calling Him “Skinny” During Childhood, Evander Holyfield Reveals How Former Rival Mike Tyson Inspired Him to Go From Cruiserweight to Heavyweight

Published 11/20/2023, 1:32 AM EST

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Who would have thought Mike Tyson inspired Evander Holyfield to move up weight divisions? The two legends are etched in the pages of boxing history because of their fierce rivalry. Not to mention their infamous bite fight, further making the idea of ‘Iron’ Mike inspiring Holyfield perplexing. However, rest assured, Holyfield himself made the shocking yet heartwarming revelation about moving up weight classes.

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Interestingly, weight has been a highly motivational aspect of Holyfield’s life. As a young pugilist climbing the ladder of amateur boxing, he was often made fun of because of his “skinny” physique. However, the four-time heavyweight champion overcame all those adversities to become one of the biggest names in the history of the sport. Yet, one question still lingers – how did ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson inspire ‘The Real Deal’ Holyfield to climb to the Heavyweight division?

Evander Holyfield claims he had what Mike Tyson did not


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While appearing in an interview with Vlad TV, ‘The Real Deal’ acknowledged his superiority in the cruiserweight division and revealed Mike inspired him to move up. “I was the monster in cruiserweight… I just look at it, I can see them… they knew what they gonna get…what people didn’t know is that Mike Tyson is the one that made me realize I could do it,” said Holyfield. Holyfield then went on to reveal how Mike inspired him. “If a guy got short arm like that can hit them, I can hit them too as my arm is a lot longer,” said Holyfield. He elaborated that he did not have explosive power like Mike but had better movement than him. “I don’t have explosive power. But I have movement that he didn’t have. I had so many things that Mike didn’t have. So Mike kind of inspired me to take that chance,” said Holyfield.

 With that out of the way, here is why Holyfield never liked being called “skinny.”


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Holyfield wanted to show people he was “better than somebody”

Holyfield might have achieved numerous accolades later in life by becoming one of the best heavyweights, but he wasn’t always very heavy. In fact, as a youth, Holyfield was often the butt of the joke because he was thin stature. While being skinny isn’t the worst thing in the world, Holyfield never liked it when people called him that.

While appearing in an interview with Vlad TV, Holyfield revealed the unexpected reason behind that. “Back then, they were saying you poor, you ain’t got nothing to eat, and they laugh at you all the time,” said Holyfield. He even suggested that all he wanted was to be fat because “it’s about eating every day kind of make you feel like you were better than somebody.”


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Despite being taunted as “skinny,” Holyfield has overcome adversities to become one of the best heavyweights in the world.


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 Interestingly, Mike Tyson played a key role in motivating Holyfield to achieve it, whether he knew it or not. What do you think about Mike inspiring Holyfield? Were you surprised to learn Holyfield was once skinny?

Watch This Story: 5 Intriguing Facts You Need To Know About Evander Holyfield

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Written by:

Sudeep Sinha


One take at a time

The first time boxing captured my attention, it was because of a line I heard in the film 'Rocky Balboa', a film surrounding boxing. The line went like this, "But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward.
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Edited by:

Arijit Saha