Share this article

“You Can Be Like Muhammad Ali”: Heavyweight Legend Evander Holyfield Shares Interesting Story of How He Started Boxing at the Age of 8

Published 11/18/2023, 1:12 PM EST

Follow Us

via Getty

Think of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time. You sure would have Evander Holyfield high up on the list. The former heavyweight champion is one of the few ever to defeat Mike Tyson. And he did it twice. After a celebrated career that lasted decades, the retired boxer called it a day with a record of 44 victories with only two defeats.

America’s Favorite Video Today

Although his career is well documented, one might wonder what was his life like before boxing. In addition, how did he encounter the ‘Sweet Science.’ We have a tale to narrate, so sit back and dive right in.

Evander Holyfield reveals the first time he threw a punch


Article continues below this ad

Boxing was never on the cards for young Holyfield. He was immersed in playing football at the age of 8. However, he had a desire to stand out from the rest. When he saw a speed bag at a boxing gym, he had an itch to try it and learn so he could show it off to his other teammates. But the boxing trainer did not permit him to use it. In an interview with DJ Vlad, he stated, “So I went up, and asked a man I said, hey sir, can I come in and hit the speed bag? He said ‘No.’”

It was because he was not on the boxing team; he was denied the use of the boxing equipment. However, he was adamant about giving it a shot, so would ask the trainer again and again until the trainer allowed him to punch on the heavy bag. While recounting the sequence of events, Holyfield stated the condition in which he was allowed. The trainer asked him to throw his strongest punch. In a pursuit to impress him, he put a lot of force into his punch and hurt his hand.


Get instantly notified of the hottest Boxing stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

Young Holyfield cried out in pain and the trainer started laughing. Witnessing this, Holyfield started to throw a series of hard punches. His tenacity and will impressed the boxing trainer, to the extent that he even compared him to Muhammad Ali. While recounting, Holyfield said, “He said, ‘You good. Do you know you can be like Muhammad Ali?” The eight-year-old responded, “I said I am only eight years old,” to which the trainer answered, “He said, ‘You won’t be eight years old always.’”

That was all she wrote, and the rest is history. Holyfield’s story goes to show that he was a rebel since childhood. Despite being told a ‘No’, he remained adamant about his pursuits. This mentality was present in his career, too. Now that we know how he got into the sport, let’s take a look at who he credits with his success in the ring.

The women behind the success of Holyfield


Article continues below this ad

Holyfield was more than a boxer. He was and continues to be a larger-than-life personality. His mother has played a pivotal role in his character development. In the same interview, he recounted how his mother taught him to be more accountable and refrain from crying. He stated, “You got to put something in it. So, my mama stopped me from crying at a younger age and said you got to stop all these tears. These tears don’t help you. Everybody cry but you don’t have to cry in front of nobody.”

One cannot attain this feat and accolades without being mentally resilient. Safe to say, a lot of credit goes out to his mom. At this juncture, we are curious to know what you make of this story. Share with us your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.


Article continues below this ad

Providing feedback will help us make your experience better.

The Fan's Perspective

Enjoyed Your Read? Let us know how likely you are to recommend EssentiallySports to your friends!

Least Likely

Most Likely



Written by:

Harddit Bedi


One take at a time

I am a boxing author at EssentiallySports. My love for the 'Sweet Science’, came about after Conor McGregor crossed sports and ventured into boxing to face Floyd Mayweather. Apart from the nitty-gritty of the sport, I am equally captivated and entertained by off-the-ring rivalry and incidental shenanigans.
Show More>

Edited by:

Gokul Pillai