Difference Makers Magazine

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difference maker: Evander Holyfield

deal realthe W

hen the students of Francis Howell North attended the pep assembly on Feb. 20 to recognize the annual winter dance, Blizzard Blackout, few could hardly anticipate what was to come post assembly: four-time heavy weight champion of the world Evander Holyfield.

“At first I didn’t believe it because I thought ‘Why would a guy of his stature come here?”, senior Pat Flynn said. “I asked Dr. Jones [if it was true] and she said ‘yes’ and I got excited. I mean it’s not every day that a boxing legend comes to your high school.”

Holyfield was in town promoting his new video and song “Bomaye” by St. louis native km (featuring Tenise A. and Jayhut), and to emphasize the importance of giving back to one’s community through the Holyfield Foundation.

“My foundation was inspired by what was given to me as a kid,” Holyfield said. “The Boys and girls club [in Atlanta] taught me good things as a kid.”

Founded in 1993, the Holyfield Foundation is a non-profit organization that gives “at-risk” inner-city youth an opportunity for education and parental involvement in their lives. The foundation works on spiritual, educational and athletic improvement and has shown great success over the years. In 2004 the Holyfield International Track Club saw 12 of its athletes qualify for the Olympic time trials held in Sacremento, California. Of those 12 participants, two made the u.S. Olympic track team and one athlete, David Oliver, won the bronze medal in the men’s 110-meter hurdles competition.

The foundation is currently working on building a youth center based in Atlanta, georgia for the city’s teens to learn life skills, financial and computer literacy and how to raise their self-esteem.

“I think Evander has put so much of his own personal money into the foundation that people came up to him and said that you have to have people help you,” representative kathy Shipley said. “It’s really hard because he keeps giving and giving and he really needs to reach out to others for help, especially with the economy like the way it is.”

During his message to the Francis Howell North student body, Holyfield introduced his new video and song “Bomaye” to the students and faculty.

Although it was to be released later that night, the students and faculty of Francis Howell North were the first to view the video. Quentin Stephenson, the producer of the song, gathered his inspiration from watching the 2001 hit movie “Ali” starring Will Smith.

“I’m a big fan of boxing,” Stephenson said, “and I was watching Ali and I noticed all the adversity he went through and wanted to make a song that said when the times get tough and times get harder, you just keep pushing. It’s those

hard days that make us successful in what we do.”

“Bomaye” was the song that Holyfield walked out to on his last bout on Dec. 20, 2008 against 7-foot Russian Nikolai Valuev. Although Holyfield lost that bout the song grew in popularity and the following weeks saw a massive number of hits on the video hosting website youtube and also on Itunes. Shipley, who is also Stephenson’s manager, got into the mix when their plans for releasing the song at a club in Atlanta were foiled by the club’s sudden closing.

“I thought it would be really cool if we had the video release at FHN because one of sons go here and we’ve worked

together,” Shipley said. “I just thought it’d be fun for the students at North. The Student council did a really nice job setting everything up.”

In the near future Holyfield plans to fight again for his fifth heavy weight title making him the only person in the world with five heavy weight boxing titles. Holyfield feels he can accomplish this feat, and maybe more, by the end of this calendar year.

“I won’t say ‘I quit’ [after that fight]” the 46 year-old said. “But one thing for sure is that I’m going to be the 5 time heavyweight champion of the world. undisputed.”

Founded in 1993, the Holyfield Foundation is a non-profit organization that gives at-risk” inner-city youth an opportunity for education and parental involvement in their lives.

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