Evander Holyfield Biography Facts, Childhood, Career, Life

Evander Holyfield Biography Facts, Childhood, Career, Life
Evander Holyfield - Biography & Career Accomplishments. (Image: YouTube)

Evander Holyfield (born Oct. 19, 1962) is a retired American professional boxer who is commonly known for his accomplishments within the octagon. Debuting professionally in 1984 and retiring in 2014, Holyfield’s 26 years in top-flight is accorded with four world heavyweight championships and has since been tagged by his fans as ‘The Real Deal’ due to his dominance in boxing in the 90s. His intellectual and powerful style of fighting was one which largely contributed to his victories. This has earned him 44 wins from 57 bouts, of which 29 were won by knockouts while losing just 10. Evander Holyfield biography facts, childhood, career and personal life feature a complete review of the boxing legend’s life from his early life to date.

Evander Holyfield Biography Quick Facts, Age

  • Full Name: Evander Holyfield
  • Nicknames: The Real Deal
  • Date of Birth: 19 October 1962
  • Age: 61 years old
  • Place of Birth: Atmore, Alabama
  • Nationality: American
  • Zodiac Sign: Libra
  • Height: 6 ft. 2 in (1.89 m)
  • Weight: 86 kg
  • Education: Fulton High School, Jonesboro, Atlanta
  • Parents
    • Mother: Annie Laura Holyfield
    • Father: Isom Coley
  • Wife: Caldi Cavana Smith (married 2001-2012)
  • Children
    • Sons: Elijah Esaias Holyfield; Evander Holyfield Jr.; Ewin Holyfield; Elijah Jedidiah Holyfield
    • Daughter: Evette A. Holyfield
  • Occupation: Boxer
  • Division: Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, Light heavyweight
  • Career: 1984-2014

Evander Holyfield Early Life & Childhood

Evander Holyfield was born in Atmore, Alabama on the 19th of October, 1962 in a large family as the youngest out of his eight siblings. Evander was born of a different father from the rest of his siblings. At age four, the family moved from Alabama to a home housing project area in Atlanta, Georgia which was notorious for its high crime rate. There he became acquainted with boxing after joining a boxing group for kids at age seven. Holyfield immediately began to show his boxing prowess and won a boxing medal at that young age.

Evander Holyfield's Childhood Photo
Childhood photo of young Evander Holyfield. (Image credit: HuffPost)

Evander Holyfield attended the Fulton High School of which he graduated from in 1980. Being just 13 years old, he competed in the junior Olympics and became a champion at the Southeastern regional tourney where he also clinched the Best Boxer Award. During this time, Holyfield had shown how much he could achieve by winning 160 from 174 fights of which 76 were knockouts at age 15.

At a height of 6 ft 2 in, Holyfield was just 5 ft 8 at age 18 but grew some inches taller to reach 6ft 0 in at age 21. Eventually, he finally added almost 3 inches more to reach his adult height in his early 20s. During this time, he participated in the 1983 Pan American Games where he clinched the silver medal and won the National Golden Gloves and a bronze medal in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.

Evander Holyfield Boxing Career & Stats

Light heavyweight

In November 1984, Evander Holyfield debuted professionally in the light heavyweight division against Lionel Byarm, a fight he won. He went on to win some other contests in the division before deciding to move to the cruiserweight division the following year. 


Evander Holyfield debuted against Tyrone Booze in the cruiserweight in July, 1985. Holyfield won the fight in round 8 after a unanimous decision by the judges. And won two more fights before knocking off Anthony Davis in his last contest of the year. In 1986, Holyfield became the WBA Cruiserweight Champion after conquering Muhammad Qawi in a competitive bout which was tagged the best of the 80s in the cruiserweight division. Later in 1987, during a rematch, he triumphed over Qawi by KO in the fourth round.

Holyfield then proceeded to defend his belt against Henry Tillman, who had conquered World Champion Mike Tyson on two occasions as an amateur. In Round 7, Holyfield knocked out Tillman and retained his title. He retained his title again by defeating Ossie Ocasio, an ex-world champion by a KO in round 11. As at 1988, Holyfield had gained world recognition by defeating Carlos De León who was the Lineal & WBC Champion. Following the bout, he expressed his desire to proceed to the heavyweight division by challenging Mike Tyson’s World Heavyweight Championship.


Holyfield debuted in the heavyweight against James Tillis who was known for his quick style of fighting and flash punches. He won the bout in the fifth round by KO. In 1989, Holyfield’s first contest against Michael Dokes, an ex-heavyweight champion became a notable one in heavyweight history after being ranked as one of the best in the 80s. Holyfield won the bout by yet another KO in round 10. Due to his excellent feats, he had become Ring Magazine’s best contender for two years by 1990. In 1990, Tyson was ripped of his belts by Buster Douglas. In place of Mike Tyson, Holyfield was matched with Douglas for Douglas’ foremost title defence.

Holyfield triumphed by unanimous decision and was named the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Holyfield won his first title defence against George Foreman by another unanimous decision. Holyfield then continued to defend his belts by facing off Bert Cooper and Francesco Damiani. In 1992, Holyfield sustained his first scar in a contest against 42 years old Larry Holmes. He decided to face Riddick Bowe who became one of the biggest rivals in his career. The tenth round of the contest was ranked the best of the year but eventually, Holyfield suffered a defeat in the twelfth round by a unanimous decision to Bowe to claim the belt.

A rematch was scheduled for November 1993 which became a notable fight as a certain man in parachute flew close to the ring but was entangled in the lights. The man was later known to be ‘The fan man’ and the fight was named ‘The fan fight’. Holyfield eventually won the contest and reclaimed his belt. He was honoured as the ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year.

In 1994, Holyfield faced Michael Moorer from the light heavyweight division. He lost the fight based on a majority decision in round 12 and was forced to hang his gloves after being diagnosed with a heart problem. A rematch was later scheduled in 1998 and this time Holyfield won the bout with an IBF title. He returned to the octagon in 1995 with a win against Ray Mercer and agreed to another face-off against Riddick Bowe. Bowe won the fight by an eighth-round KO. In 1996, the long-awaited Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson fight finally materialized. Against the odds, Holyfield won the bout in round 11 by technical knockout as he claimed the WBA Heavyweight championship.

A rematch was scheduled for June 1997. Mike Tyson bit Holyfield’s ears twice and suffered deduction of points and disqualification. Ultimately, Holyfield won the fight and retained his belt. He victoriously defended his title against Vaughn Bea in 1998. In 1999, Lennox Lewis, WBC World Champion engaged in a unification bout with Holyfield. The fight ended in a draw but saw Holyfield defeated in the rematch that followed. In 2000, following Lewis’ belt strip-off, Holyfield and John Ruiz were scheduled for a bout to claim the world title belt. In the first bout, Holyfield won in the twelfth round by unanimous decision.

The next year in 2001, Ruiz won the rematch by unanimous decision in the same twelfth round. In December 2001, another match came up of which was declared draw making Ruiz retain the titles. Holyfield faced-off Hasim Rahman in a determining match to decide who was to match Lennox Lewis for the IBF title. Eventually, Lewis was stripped-off his belt and Holyfield won his bout against Rahman by technical decision. In time, Holyfield’s consistency began declining and he suffered a successive streak of defeats. But in 2006, he defeated Jeremy Bates by technical knockout and won a number of contests till he faced Sultan Ibragimov, for the WBO Heavyweight title. Ibragimov won the highly competitive and entertaining bout by unanimous decision to claim the WBO Heavyweight title.

Evander Holyfield
Evander Holyfield in 2007. (Image credit: John Kloepper via Wikimedia Commons)

In 2009, Nikolai Valuev defeated Holyfield by majority decision in a highly controversial bout that was investigated by the WBA later on. In 2010 he faced off Francois Both and won the bout to claim the WBF heavyweight belt. Holyfield recorded the only no-contest bout of his career against Wladimir Klitschko as he sustained an eye injury in round 2. Eventually, after losing to the Danish Brian Nielsen and trying to secure a title contest with the Klitschko brothers, Holyfield finally hung his gloves in 2014 after enjoying a successful boxing career tallying 44 wins from 57 bouts.

Evander Holyfield Wife, Personal life

Evander Holyfield had been married to three different women, the latest being Caldi Cavana Smith to which he had the longest of his marriages (11 years). Currently, Holyfield is known to be in no relationship with anyone.

Holyfield is a father of 11 children born from 6 women. One of his sons, Elijah Esaias was a college footballer at the University of Georgia.

Holyfield founded the Real Deal Records in 1999 notable for the signature of the then famous music group, Exhale. It is also renowned for its signature of NiWine, a popular Filipino artiste. The creation of the record label affirms Holyfield’s love for music.

Holyfield had played roles in movies and TV shows which includes the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990. Another noteworthy appearance was an animation of him in the Nickelodeon GUTS where his character had his trademarked bitten ear. In 2014, he featured in the Celebrity Big Brother (UK) and was ejected first in the reality show. His most recent appearance was in the 2016 Argentine dancing reality show. The actor and dancer, Bernard Holyfield is one of Evander’s older brothers. 

Evander Holyfield’s aggressiveness and fighting prowess is attributed to his growing up at a place well known for its high crime rate. He is known to be a Christian.

See More: Biography facts, career and personal life of famous boxing athletes.

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