Sports

As a young man growing up in a tough Atlanta neighborhood, Evander Holyfield found inspiration in Muhammad Ali. With that inspiration as a starting point, Holyfield rose through the boxing ranks to become a four-time champion.

He’s in Louisville to speak at the “I Am Ali” festival’s Gala of Greatness tomorrow night at 6:30 at the Ali Center. Listen to our conversation in the player above.

On aspiring to be as great a boxer as Muhammad Ali:

“When I was at the age of eight, I was told I could be like Muhammad Ali. And the only thing I knew was that he was a champion boxer. So I took it at that time as being a boxing champion. But that’s the best thing that anyone ever told me I could be.”

On carrying the torch with Muhammad Ali at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and considering them equals in the ring:

“At the end of the Olympics when I was watching, they started talking about all [Ali’s] humanitarian work all the things he’d done and I realized I’m way behind. Shoo, I don’t even quantify. It let me know him more as a person and what he was trying to do. He loved people. He wanted to bring people together.”

On Muhammad Ali’s lasting legacy:

“What did ‘The Greatest’ mean? [Ali] tried to tell people, if you’re great, then do something for somebody. How many people want to be great? It’s amazing, a lot of people are very selfish. They accomplish something and the only thing they think about is themselves. But Ali went out and he was an example to the people. If you make a mistake, correct your mistakes and go out and help somebody.”

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for WFPL News.