His Life Wasn't Easy. What Gave Him The Strength To Fight To The Top Was A Movie.

This is how champions are made.

Evander Holyfield was the youngest of nine children, so going to the movies was a luxury that took second place to things like eating.

But when Holyfield was 14 or 15 years old, long before his memorable fights with Mike Tyson, he became a fan of a boxing icon you may not expect: Rocky. He revealed his feelings about the Rocky movies and how it motivated him in a MOVIECLIPS Trailers series, above, that talks to celebrities about their favorite films. 

"Even though Rocky was white it kinda represented me," Holyfield said. "I lived in a black neighborhood and the people on the bus said 'you ain't no Rocky, you black.' They looked at the color but I didn't look at the color, I looked at the motivation."

The only four-time Heavyweight Champion that has ever lived, Holyfield was most motivated by Rocky's work ethic (and the movie's theme songs).


That motivation was important, too. Holyfield never had an easy road. As a child, he lived in poverty, eating only because his older brothers helped provide for the family. His undersized frame ended his dreams of becoming a professional football player, which helped drive him to boxing. But even then, Holyfield faced adversity. 

In the 1984 Olympics, Holyfield was disqualified for a late punch in a semi-final match. The ref's decision was so poor the stadium nearly rioted, but Holyfield kept his cool. To make it up to him, the International Olympic Committee helped make sure he got his bronze medal, but his heart would always be broken for missing his chance at gold.

"The whole big thing about 'Rocky' is having heart," Holyfield said. "I knew exactly what he was going through, it wasn't a movie to me."

Holyfield is a reminder that even for one of the greatest athletes that ever lived, you never know how they got there until you ask. Watch above for the full story.


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