Evander Holyfield Net Worth, Early Life, Career

Evander Holyfield Net Worth

Evander Holyfield is a former professional boxer who competed between 1984 and 2011. He is among the most celebrated boxers ever and the only four-time world heavyweight champion. Over his illustrious career, Evander Holyfield amassed a net worth of around $1 million at his retirement.

Evander Holyfield Net Worth

At the height of his boxing career in the 1990s, Evander Holyfield earned over $200 million in fight purses alone. His biggest payday was $35 million for the 1997 rematch against Mike Tyson.

Including income from endorsements and business deals, Holyfield’s career earnings are estimated to be over $300 million in total. During his peak years, he was one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.

Evander Holyfield Net Worth

However, Holyfield lost much of his fortune due to poor financial management and bad investments. He owed over $10 million in debt by the late 2000s and had to auction off memorabilia and his estate to pay creditors.

After declaring bankruptcy in 2008, Holyfield spent years rebuilding his finances. By his 2011 retirement, Evander Holyfield net worth was estimated at around $1 million.

Early Life and Education

Evander Holyfield was born on October 19, 1962, in Atmore, Alabama. He was the youngest of 9 children born to Annie Laura and Isom Coley Holyfield. His father was a former boxer turned welterweight contender. Holyfield’s family later relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where he spent most of his childhood.

As a young boy, Holyfield dreamed of becoming an Olympic swimmer. However, after almost drowning at the age of 7, he was discouraged from swimming and took up boxing instead.

Holyfield trained at the Warren Memorial Boys Club, winning the Boys Club Boxing Tournament. He had a stellar amateur career, winning the National Golden Gloves tournament at light heavyweight in 1984.

Holyfield attended Fulton High School in Atlanta. After graduating high school, he went to college and pursued a career in professional boxing.

Career Beginnings

Holyfield made his professional boxing debut against Lionel Byarm on November 15, 1984, at Madison Square Garden. He won the match by TKO in the fifth round. Early wins against experienced journeymen like Mike Brothers and Tyrone Booze put him in contention for his first title shot.

In July 1986, Holyfield challenged Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA cruiserweight championship. At age 23, he won the belt by split decision after 15 brutal rounds. Holyfield defended the WBA title thrice before adding the IBF belt with a knockout against Ricky Parkey in May 1987.

After unifying the cruiserweight division, Holyfield announced his intentions to advance to heavyweight and pursue greater challenges. His first fight at heavyweight came against former champion James “Buster” Douglas in October 1990. Holyfield scored a stunning third-round knockout to claim the undisputed heavyweight championship.

Championship Reigns at Heavyweight

Holyfield’s victory over Douglas ushered in an era of fierce competition in the heavyweight division throughout the 1990s. His rivalry with Riddick Bowe produced some of the most memorable bouts in boxing history. After losing his titles to Bowe in 1992, Holyfield regained the WBA and IBF belts in 1993 by defeating Bowe in their rematch.

In 1994, Holyfield’s first fight against Mike Tyson ended when Tyson was disqualified for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. Their 1997 rematch ended with Tyson being disqualified again for biting Holyfield’s other ear.

Holyfield’s trilogy against John Ruiz spanned from 2000 to 2001. He won the first match to become the WBA heavyweight champ. After losing the second bout, Holyfield recaptured the title in their rubber match, becoming the first boxer to be the world heavyweight champion four times.

By the late 1990s and 2000s, Holyfield’s performances were clearly in decline as he approached his 40s. He kept competing but lost to younger champions like Chris Byrd and Larry Donald. Holyfield finally called time on his career in 2011 after being knocked out by Brian Nielsen.

Sources of Income

The vast majority of Holyfield’s career earnings came from his stellar boxing career. The purses he received for major fights were often worth multi-millions. Throughout the 1990s, Holyfield was one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, thanks to his boxing prize money and pay-per-view percentages.

Evander Holyfield Net Worth

Another significant income source for Holyfield was endorsement deals. At the height of his fame as heavyweight champion, he earned over $70 million from high-profile sponsorship deals with companies like Diet Coke, Burger King, and Smith Barney. His status as a top boxer made him an attractive pitchman for big brands.

Holyfield also invested in various business ventures that produced additional income. He started record labels, opened a restaurant franchise called Real Deal Grill, and lent his name and image to video games like Ready 2 Rumble Boxing. Though some ventures failed, others, like Ready 2 Rumble, proved lucrative for the former champ.

In retirement, Holyfield continues to earn income from promotional appearances, commentary gigs, and hosting roles that keep him in the public eye. He also likely has smaller revenue streams from carefully investing his remaining wealth into assets like stocks and bonds.

Business Ventures and Endorsements

Aside from boxing, Holyfield successfully promoted himself as a brand and pitchman. In 1996, he landed a $20 million endorsement deal with Diet Coke. He also signed lucrative deals with companies like Burger King and Smith Barney.

Wanting to parlay his ring success into business ventures, Holyfield founded Real Deal Records and promoted the music careers of various artists. He started a promotional company called Real Deal Grill and opened the restaurant franchise.

One of Holyfield’s most profitable investments was in the Ready 2 Rumble Boxing video game. As the star of the game franchise, his involvement boosted sales and popularity.

Personal Life

Holyfield has been married three times and has 11 children. His first marriage was to Paulette Bowen from 1985 to 1991. He then married physician Janice Itson in 1996, divorcing in 2000. In 2003, he married Candi Calvana Smith.

With his boxing earnings plus income from business deals, Holyfield lived a lavish lifestyle with multiple mansions, luxury cars, and even a 109-room, 17,000-square-foot estate in Georgia. However, shady financial planning led Holyfield to bankruptcy in 2008 with over $10 million in debt.


Evander Holyfield has been an active philanthropist, giving back to the community through several charitable organizations.

In 1996, he founded the Evander Holyfield Foundation, which works to provide educational opportunities for underprivileged youth. The foundation awards college scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Holyfield is also a champion for cancer awareness. He became closely involved with charities such as the American Cancer Society after losing his mother to breast cancer. In 2012, Holyfield even shaved his head in solidarity with children fighting cancer.

However, Holyfield has been the primary benefactor of the Darlington School’s athletic program. The prep school named their athletic complex the Holyfield Centre in honor of his donations.

FAQs on Evander Holyfield Net Worth

How many times was Evander Holyfield heavyweight champion?

Evander Holyfield is the only boxer in history to be the undisputed heavyweight champion 4 times. He won the heavyweight title in 1990 by defeating Buster Douglas.

What was Holyfield’s biggest payday?

Holyfield earned his biggest single payday for his 1997 rematch against Mike Tyson. He earned a guaranteed $35 million for the highly anticipated fight, which broke box office records for pay-per-view buys.

Did Evander Holyfield win medals at the Olympics?

No, Holyfield did not compete at the Olympics. He had an extensive amateur career, winning multiple Golden Gloves titles, but just missed qualifying for the 1984 US Olympic boxing team.

How much money did Holyfield make in his career?

Estimates of Holyfield’s total career earnings range from $300 million to over $500 million. In the 1990s alone, he earned over $200 million in purses.

Bottom Line

Evander Holyfield cemented his legacy as one of boxing’s all-time greats over his nearly 30-year professional career. As the only four-time heavyweight champion, he consistently faced and defeated the top contenders of his era.

His epic rivalries with Bowe, Tyson, and others produced some of history’s most memorable bouts. Though financial issues later tainted his reputation, Holyfield remains one of the most beloved and iconic fighters of recent times. His courage, determination, and humility made him a unique sportsman in and out of the ring.

Benedict is an entertainment enthusiast and a passionate blogger. He loves to share his insights and opinions of the ever-evolving entertainment world. When he's not writing, you can find Benedict immersing himself in the latest releases, following the latest industry events, and engaging with fellow entertainment enthusiasts online.


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