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Faith Can Win Championships - November 18, 1996

Richard Brian McCarty

Around three years ago, Evander Holyfield lost the World Heavyweight boxing championship. He also apparently lost his career. Doctors had told the former champion his fighting days were over because of a hole in his heart.

Last Saturday night, Evander Holyfield was once again crowned heavyweight champion with a stunning upset over boxing's bad boy Mike Tyson. That fight, and Evander Holyfield's trip to it, serve as examples of how faith and class can still win in America.

Holyfield's heart problem miraculously disappeared a couple of years ago. Doctors were baffled. But Holyfield was not. He, his family, his friends, and his church had prayed for him to be healed to do God's will. And, to this boxing fan and conservative pundit, God's will for Evander Holyfield was clear in Las Vegas last Saturday night.

Iron Mike Tyson stepped into the ring the champ. He is boxing's bad boy, and the idol that the gangster rappers would have young African American males look up to. He is a convicted rapist. He is arrogant. He sees society as his to insult, and women as his to take. His history has him getting into fights with young parking attendants, and fondling women at will ( outside his rape conviction). Add to that an unbelievable ability to box. He is sheer terror in the ring to face. He brings out fear in almost any boxer who faces him.

Except for one. And that boxer was Evander Holyfield. Before he entered the ring, he spoke of God being with him, and that he had no fear. When he stepped into the ring, he eyed Tyson with no fear. And then, to put it in direct terms, he kicked Tyson's butt, baffling the odds makers who had him a 22-1 underdog.

And, the first thing he said in his post fight interview was not "I kicked Mike's butt." Instead, it was about God. He said he wanted his fight to show what God had done for him, and what God could do for other people. I have always been a Holyfield fan, and after he said that, I am more proud to be.

So called civil rights leaders, so called African American artists and musicians, all came to the defense of Mike Tyson one way or the other. His destructive behavior not only became excused, but it came to symbolize the destructive behavior of young inner city youths that has become tests of courage and manhood.

But, when Tyson's fanny fell to the floor in Las Vegas, perhaps a new hero and symbol rose up, not only for African American youths, but for all Americans. In a time when the take what's for me gangsta mentality flourishes, Evander Holyfield showed that faith in God, clean living, and hard work can achieve what no one expects--success in a man everyone doomed to failure several times.

It is my hope that somewhere in America some kid saw Evander Holyfield and learned from him. Hopefully he sees that he is not limited to live the frustrated life everyone dooms him to. And, with faith in God, clean living, and hard work, he too can shock the world by being successful. I know one man who was reminded of that by Evander Holyfield. I stare him in the mirror everyday. Thanks Evander, for making a boxing match into a lesson in life.

Richard Brian McCarty has worked on several political campaigns of conservatives. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina and a BS degree from Lander University. An experienced writer, McCarty's columns are written from a distinctly Southern point of view. He is sometimes Southern, sometimes conservative, sometimes humorous, and sometimes all three.

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