Evander Holyfield Throws Punches At Bullying In Vancouver

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EVANDER HOLYFIELD
Touched by Amanda Todd's story, champion boxer Evander Holyfield has committed himself to do his part to fight bullying. (Facebook) | Facebook

For the past 22 years, Evander Holyfield made his living pushing and punching men around the boxing ring.

The former Heavyweight Champion of the World is known in the sporting world for his toughness, determination and explosive power.

That's why it might come as a surprise to some that Holyfield is in Vancouver this week to fight bullying.

The legendary boxer from Atlanta, Ga. said he was touched after he heard the story of Amanda Todd, a B.C. teen who committed suicide after years of bullying.

Holyfield decided that he wants to stop similar tragedies from happening in the future.

"It's gotta stop," he said.

"I think it starts at home. It's very important for parents to be able to be truthful to the kids so the kids don't take their own lives," Holyfield said in an interview with Stephen Quinn for On the Coast on CBC Radio One Friday.

It's hard to imagine a five-time heavyweight champion being the victim of bullying, but Holyfield said he faced taunts from his schoolmates at a young age because he was having problems learning to read.

His mother, who had a 6th grade education, insisted that he go to school and learn to read, even if he was behind the rest of his class. She taught him to persevere and keep his cool despite the hurt that was caused by the bullies that targeted him for his lacklustre reading ability.

"I cried, but my mamma told me, 'you're going back. It's gonna take some time, but you're going to learn how to read,'" he said.

"When, at a young age you learn to face your fears, that makes the difference between people being champions and people not being champions," Holyfield said.

Holyfield said his mother continued to have a major influence in his life, always teaching him self-respect and self-control.

He says it's parents who have to ensure their kids don't bully others, and are ready to face bullying when it comes around.

Holyfield is scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for the Amanda Todd Foundation on Monday, Jan. 28.

The event will be held at the Fraserview Hall in South Vancouver.

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