It is somewhat apropos that Evander Holyfield has managed to stick himself back into the limelight of boxing’s heavyweight division. In a time when hypocrisy is one of the nation’s greatest exports, it seems natural that Holyfield should be in the mix.
In an era where Dick Cheney pounds the desk with one hand while clutching his chest with the other as he questions the patriotism of any that oppose him – while being part of an administration that abuses wounded U.S. veterans by leaving them in mold-drenched, cockroach-infested hospital rooms – Holyfield is the prototype boxer. And in a world where Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich preach family values while divorcing their wives and having sordid affairs, Evander should thrive.
Holyfield has long been one of sports’ great hypocrites. Here’s a man who is widely admired and given endorsement deals for his warrior spirit and Christianity. And while Holyfield deserves respect for his accomplishments and his work inside the ring, his behavior has consistently been an embarrassment, albeit mostly ignored.
Holyfield has fathered at least nine children out of wedlock. He is on his third marriage. And now, his name has come up prominently in a massive steroid scandal. And as evidence uncovered by Sports Illustrated points directly at Holyfield (or “Evan Field”), he proclaims his innocence.
But Holyfield, always considered a blown-up light-heavyweight, fights on in pursuit of the heavyweight title, an inspiration to a nation that expects its role models to be consistently bad people. Perhaps not surprisingly, even in the ring Holyfield has many critics, who point to his repeated use of his head as a weapon in the ring, the same head that caused Mike Tyson to psychologically break and bite off a chunk of “The Real Deal’s” ear.
Holyfield recently stopped a limited fighter by the name of Vinny Maddalone, continuing his comeback and inspiring Michael Woods to write a fawning column – “Is this comeback the real deal for Holyfield?” – over him. While Woods is correct that Holyfield may have success against some of the more mediocre heavyweights of this era, his comeback should come to a screeching halt if he has the hubris to face someone of the size and quality of Wladimir Klitschko.
While you can’t count Holyfield out in the ring, the comebacks of 44-year-old fighters tend to end up with said fighter face down on the canvas. And while we hope Holyfield is able to get through this latest incarnation of his fighting career sans permanent injury, we know that his reputation will stay as clean as it ever has.
Because whether its in the ring or on “Dancing with the Stars,” Evander Holyfield is the perfect fighter and celebrity for a generation that adores hypocrites.
Crossposted at williamkwolfrum.com