Holyfield shares knowledge with young fighters

By Terry Fletcher
For the Gazette
Adrian Benton of Cincinnati (left) lands a left to Rodolfo Cuazitl of Tampa, Fla., during a preliminary round match at the USA Boxing Junior Olympic National Championships Wednesday.

The 2014 USA Boxing Junior Olympic National Championships received a special guest as the preliminary bouts got underway Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center.

Attending the event was none other than Olympic bronze medalist and five-time world heavyweight champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield. Holyfield is an alumni of USA Boxing and is the only five-time heavyweight world champion.

“Evander has been a fantastic supporter of our events,” said USA Boxing spokesperson Julie Goldsticker. “We always love to have our alumni here. So it’s great for our coaches, officials, and some of these young athletes who probably weren’t even born when he was competing in the ring, but they know what he means to this sport.”

Holyfield arrived in Charleston early Wednesday afternoon and made his way to the Civic Center around 5:30 p.m. for a meet-and-greet with fans and media, where he gave young boxers a lesson about fighting through adversity.

“The three things I was taught was listen, follow directions and don’t quit,” said Holyfield. “If you don’t quit, you’ll reach your goal eventually. That’s been the greatest thing about the amateur boxing game.”

An Alabama native, Holyfield qualified for his first Junior Olympics at age 13 and became the Southeastern Regional Champion at age 15. Six years later, Holyfield won the Olympic bronze medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

“When I hit 11, I lost two matches and I was crying and I didn’t want to do it anymore, but my mother wouldn’t allow me to quit,” said Holyfield. “My mother said ‘Son, if you quit, you’ll never reach your destination.’ My whole big thing has been to inspire people not to quit. It’s up to you. If you don’t quit, you will be successful.

“I’m the only man in the world to be heavyweight champ five times. A lot people said a lot of things about what I wouldn’t be able to do. But my momma said never let anyone else determine your destination. Determine your own.”

In preliminary round action Wednesday, Daniel Gonzalez (114 pounds) is one step closer to defending his 2013 title after defeating Treston Domingo 3-0. Gonzalez, who hails from Moreno Valley, Calif., is also the 2013 World Junior Champion. Dylan Price (106) of Sicklerville, N.J., last year’s most outstanding boxer award winner, continued his success, defeating Cody Sullivan of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., 3-0.

West Virginia’s lone competitor, Zach Bartrum (125) of Huntington, fell to Evan Sanchez of Parlier, Calif., 3-0.

The tournament continues today with the quarterfinal bouts beginning at noon.

The semifinal rounds start Friday at noon with the championships scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 per session.

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