"Real Deal" Holyfield bringing boxing back to Kentucky

Boxing returns to Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Professional boxing making a comeback to Louisville thanks to five-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

Holyfield announced he was throwing his weight behind professional boxing returning to Freedom Hall in Louisville which is where a little-known boxer known as Cassius Clay got his start.

With his gift of gab, the Louisville Lip Muhammad Ali inspired others to believe they too could achieve greatness.

"As a kid when I was 8-years-old I was told I could be like Muhammad Ali,” said Holyfield.

However, in the city that was once the boxing capital of the world, the sport has been on the ropes.

"The reality of it was that in this city and state we didn't have everybody working together to do this,” said Joe Reeves.  “This was the home of the Greatest, and today we weren't even on the map in boxing."

State legislation threatened to knock out boxing in the Bluegrass state, but trainers like James Dixon of TKO gym kept the dream alive.

"Every kid that steps in my door isn't going to become a gold medalist or a world champion, but they can be world champion people,” said Dixon. They can get out of the streets come in my program to get education and exposure."

"The thing that comes with the game of boxing is discipline,” said Holyfield.  “It's the consistency every day doing the thing over and over. Things don't always go your way, but listen follow directions, and don't quit."

That perseverance paid off as the cut rule was reversed, and boxing now has a second wind thanks to the Real Deal Evander Holyfield.

The question that remains now is: can this city produce yet another champ?

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think it,” said Holyfield.  “I only go to places where I think success is going to be."

The I Am Ali Boxing tournament will be held on June 24.

Next week there will be a major announcement on who is on the fight card.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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