Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter’s Journey

Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter’s Journey

History's only four-time world heavyweight boxing champion and one of America's most admired and beloved athletes reveals the dramatic story of his rise from poverty to the very pinnacle of the toughest sport on earth.


#5 on the Sunday Times of London bestseller list

Barely able to make it into the heavyweight division and almost always the smaller fighter in the ring, Holyfield spent his professional career proving the naysayers wrong. Along the way he provided some of the twentieth century's most thrilling sports moments, not all of them on purpose. In Becoming Holyfield, he gives us the exciting inside story of defeating Mike Tyson, the self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on Earth," and then getting a piece of his ear bitten off in the rematch. We learn how it felt to become the undisputed champion of the world by knocking out the man who knocked out Tyson, and we find out what it was really like to be in the middle of a title fight and see a motorized parachute fly right into the ring.

There is heartbreak to go along with triumph, beginning with Holyfield's loss of an Olympic gold medal because of a highly controversial disqualification and continuing through his short-lived retirement following a misdiagnosed heart condition. Along the way we're treated to glimpses of such colorful figures as Don King and Howard Cosell and we come to understand the extra-ordinary power of love in shaping a young boy's life, and the love he tried to return. Holyfield made more money in the ring than any other fighter in history, and gave away millions to support the dreams of underprivileged kids looking for the same kinds of breaks that allowed him to become a champion.

Holyfield's immense popularity cannot be overstated, and it cuts across all ethnicities and socioeconomic classes. The top three highest-grossing sporting events in Las Vegas history were all Holyfield fights, and his highly rated appearances on Dancing with the Stars helped to ensure that show's success. Other fighters may have been bigger, stronger, or more flamboyant, but few could match Evander Holyfield's poise, grace under pressure, or commitment to serve as an inspiration to others.

Publisher Name Date ISBN Pages
Atria 2008 1-4165-3486-5 288

Kirkus Reviews:
" engaging story of a fighter that wins on points."

The New York Post:
"Required reading..."

Publishers Weekly:
"With the help of Gruenfeld (The Street), Holyfield
recounts the story of his career with remarkable
honesty and surprising wisdom...This memoir is a
testament to the strength of his desire and the
purity of his drive."

The Herald:
"Lee Gruenfeld... has rendered it
unmistakeably in Holyfield's tones. I
consumed the book in two sittings and
then interviewed Holyfield. His rhythm
of speech, his vocabulary, even his tone
was exactly that of the book. Gruenfeld has,
therefore, not only told the story in the way
that Holyfield wants but also in his voice. It is
a remarkable achievement. It adds to the
enjoyment of the reader who believes he/she is
listening to Holyfield direct without the need for
a middle man."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"An entertaining read. Gruenfeld does a nice job
of getting Holyfield to open up on several topics.
Even those who have closely followed his career
and the ups and downs in his personal life will
find anecdotes they were unaware of."

The Independent (London):
(BOOK OF THE WEEK) "A fascinating read.
Holyfield remains that shimmering rarity - a
competitor that has lived up to his own, and
everyone else's, extraordinary expectations."

Pittsburgh Courier:
"A knockout of a book!"

London Telegraph:
"Better than most sporting autobiographies. It helps that
Holyfield has an exemplary ghost in Lee Gruenfeld,
who has a nifty prose style and the willingness to put
in the hard hours with the tape recorder. An
intriguing read."

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