Evander Holyfield once said that he never had a plan. That might have been the farthest thing from the truth! In actuality, few athletes can rival Holyfield’s incredible training regimen, work ethic, or his inspiring story.

Holyfield had somewhat of a reputation as a “light heavyweight,” but he prevailed in countless bouts due to his training strategies.

A Commitment To Training

His commitment to training and preparation wasn’t always important to him, but it was something he learned to value after years of experience in the boxing world. “Life is about knowledge. Knowledge is power,” he said. “I didn’t have the knowledge when I was young… now I’m the oldest one in the game.”


In a 1988 interview, Holyfield’s training regimen for going from cruiserweight to heavyweight was revealed. The strategy included three weekly two-hour strength training sessions that focused on free weights.

His regimen also included four to five meals a day with high-protein foods as well as complex carbs. Then, after a few hours of rest, Holyfield would do his boxing drills, eat another big meal, rest some more, and end the day with cardio and conditioning work.

Started From A Tough Upbringing

Holyfield is an inspiring story, as he came from a poor upbringing in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Atlanta. His mother told him that when you’re poor, you have to have something to show people—something you can prove yourself with.

With those words in mind, Holyfield went on to become a boxing legend and win multiple cruiserweight and heavyweight titles, as well as a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympic Games.

“I have to have faith, faith in my abilities,” said Holyfield. “This is how I win.”


Holyfield takes it personally when people say that athletes have an early expiration date. While many commentators say an athlete hits their prime at 30 years old, he continued boxing until he officially retired at 52. He took great pride that he maintained his abilities for so long.

He also believes that if you really take care of yourself, you can have a much longer career. His mother was a treasure trove of good advice, and she told him that they key to longevity was to avoid burning the candle at both ends. Ample rest and recovery were crucial to Holyfield’s lengthy career.

The Mike Tyson Incident

Holyfield had just returned from a professional hiatus due to health concerns when he was scheduled to fight Mike Tyson. It was a highly anticipated fight, but the tone of the story changed when Tyson unexpectedly bit Holyfield’s ear twice during the fight. The second time Tyson bit him, he actually took a piece of Holyfield’s ear off.


Tyson was removed from the fight and lost due to disqualification, and the incident went on to spread through global news like wildfire.

Holyfield handled that infamous incident professionally and courteously. As a man widely known for his faith, he claims that it was an inspirational experience and that it gave him an opportunity to better practice forgiveness.