A Few Minutes with ‘The Real Deal’ himself as Evander Holyfield and I talk ‘Champs’

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Interviews, Movies by - May 11, 2015

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It’s not often, you get to talk to a champ…

With the sport of boxing having a fairly healthy resurgence as of late it felt like it made sense to take a look at the new documentary; Champs which is now available on DVD as it gives us a unique insight on what really drives the psyche of a professional boxer.

I got the unique opportunity to sit down with four time Heavyweight Champion of the world, “The Real Deal” Evander Holyfield himself to talk a little about his career, the reasons why he wanted to participate in the film, what memories he looks back on the most fondly and how this sport of champions can regain some of its former glory.121411-celebs-evander-holyfield


Dave Voigt: There have been boxing documentaries and movies about the sport before, but this seems to be the first time that we really are diving into what makes a fighter, a fighter and really taking a look at the psychological makeup of people who have that compulsion to get into the ring.  How important was it for you to take part in a project like this where we really look into the psyche of a fighter?

Evander Holyfield: Oh it was personally very important to me because for me, the outcome of a life is so determined on the people that came before you.  It was important to ask questions of why are guys losing all their money, and all these things that happened to guys of my generation and it is important to put this stuff out there so guys can make an adjustment and people can learn.  I realized  that with so many of us coming from a background of poverty and with no one in place to impart the kind of hard lessons that I and other guys have learned, but when you are in that kind of situation those are risks that you just have to take, no matter how much you do or don’t know about the sport.

DV: Like the movie said, only 1% of the guys make 99% of the money and that doesn’t happen in any other sport to the extent that it does here …why do you think that there has been such a broad pay gap in this sport for so long?

EH: It all comes down to the people who ran it back in the day and there never was any kind of structure  or foundation with any kind of government involvement.  The fighters generate all this money, but there is no education on how to save it, any kind of pension plan, or even how to give back, it’s all about going to the top and then to the bottom, there is no safety net.  Some guys it is actually a benefit to, but other guys not as much and I mean even in my career with all the money I made, I mean hell I never thought I would make that kind of money, doing something that I loved, but now comes a time where there are people who can make things better for the fighters coming up.EvanderH

DV: Throughout your entire career, is their one highlight that stands out above the rest?

EH: You know for me, my genuine highlight is making the Olympic team back when I was a younger man and getting to compete for my country.  That was one of my very first goals and when you are an amateur that is pretty much the high point for anyone.  I remember watch the Spinks brothers back in 1976 when they won a gold medal, and that made me realize that I could do that as well seeing these guys from the projects just like me.  Also, especially back then there was always a component of just people putting each other down, which wasn’t necessarily racial but just something people always like to do, even if was something as simply as saying you looked ‘goofy’ which kids called me back in the day but thankfully I always had a mother who told me that I didn’t need to be like anybody else and to just be myself and to never be afraid to fail and subsequently better myself.  You learn just as much from the times that you win, as you do from the times that you lose.

DV: Do you think that your career would have turned out differently, considering the controversy surrounding your own results when you were at the Olympics coming home with the bronze in 1984 when so many people thought you should have been fighting for the gold?

EH: You know I ultimately think that if I had won the gold, that things might not have been that much different.  It was just one less fight, but because of all the attention that I got it really put me on the same career trajectory and my mamma really did put it all in perspective for me, because win or lose I still had to be the same man no matter which way I go in life and she made sure I never got a swelled head and I was very lucky to have a mother like that who instilled in me that I didn’t have to make the same mistakes that she made.

DV: There was a time in popular culture that when there was a prize fight, the world would essentially stop and we’d all be watching, but that went away for awhile.  Do you think now that with the interest that surrounded the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight that we are experiencing a resurgence in the sport of boxing?

EH: Oh for sure, and I mean now that they put boxing back on free television, really giving it some exposure for some of these younger kids, it’s an opportunity for the sport to turn that corner and I really think that the next step is at the amateur level, with the kids at 16, 17 who have a goal to make the Olympics that it can turn out some high quality professional boxers.  You have to understand that here in the States, we really haven’t had a great Olympic team for quite some time, not since Howard Cosell was calling the fights! (laughs)  When we get someone to truly embrace the amateur ranks and have someone who can call the action like he did, with Howard calling it for the US against the world and it can spark interest in kids to even want to get on TV.  There were pro level guys who were fighting amateur, but that doesn’t happen anymore and we just can replenish the ranks as guys go pro very fast.  It was such a great program, but it needs time to grow and develop to give kids time to grow and learn how to box the right way.

Champs is available on DVD now from all major retailers and providers.

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This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.

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