Former world champion boxer Evander Holyfield is at the center of an international controversy after the 51-year-old fighter said being gay “ain’t normal” and is something that can be cured.
Holyfield, who holds two victories over Mike Tyson, made the comments on a celebrity edition of “UK Big Brother,” a reality television show.
Here’s what the man known as “Real Deal” said when asked if there were any gay boxers:
“That ain’t normal!” he said. “The Bible lets you know what’s wrong and what’s right. If you were born, and your leg was turned this way, what do you do? Go to the doctor and get it fixed…The only thing I’m trying to tell you is you know how handicapped people, you can’t say because they’re born that way you can’t move that…Yes, it is a choice.”
Holyfield also said in response to a statement that more gays in sports should come out:
“What would be good about it? That ain’t normal. … It is a choice, come on, that ain’t the way nobody is made.”
Holyfield, famously glorified in Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s hit rap song “Nothin’ but a G Thang,” with the lyric, “and that’s realer than real deal, Holyfield, and now you hookers and hoes know how I feel,” sparked outrage with his comments.
Boy George, former lead singer of Culture Club, delivered a counter left hook to the champ:
“Shame, I had such admiration for Mr Evander Holyfield, he seemed dignified and I was sure he was a cool, smart, giant!”
Holyfield is an evangelical Christian. He has 11 children with six different women.
Holyfield was swiftly reprimanded for his comments. He was told his behavior was unacceptable and told that offensive comments would not be tolerated.
One of Holyfield’s kids, Ewin, defended his father. He told TMZ.com that his father is no bigot and that he treated a gay uncle like a brother.
“My dad feels that being gay is a choice … and naturally that’s how things work. You cannot procreate and make a baby with two women, or two men. But at the same time, my dad is not going to judge someone for their sexual orientation.”
Holyfield is a former U.S Olympic bronze medal winner in boxing. He is a former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion. Holyfield’s star rose when Mike Tyson bit off part of his ear in a PPV fight. Tyson, frustrated by Holyfield’s head butts and elbows in the fight, retaliated by biting off a piece of Holyfield’s ear.
Holyfield also was in the ring, fighting Riddick Bowe, when the infamous “fan man” incident occurred. A man in a parachute landed in the ring during the fight at Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Holyfield is also the only man to win the heavyweight championship four times.
The former champion also once said that prayer healed his irregular heartbeat, allowing him to return to fighting.