Video: Former world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield is ‘Real Deal’ for Gorleston charity organisers
18:43 22 September 2013
Charity organisers in Gorleston certainly agree that legendary world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield is the “Real Deal”.
His nickname may have been earned in the ring successfully fighting the likes of Mike Tyson, but it is his generous spirit that knocked out Louise Bullen, project development manager for The Bridge, a small charity that provides hot meals to the needy in the hall of Gorleston’s St Mary Magdalene Church.
For accompanying Holyfield on his visit to the town’s Kingfisher Amateur Boxing Club yesterday was a van load of essential food items paid for by his personal charity.
As he presented the first cases personally to Mrs Bullen he revealed that he had a passion for helping others driven by the fact that growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he was “first generation out of the ghetto” .
He said: “My focus is on helping disadvantaged kids. I am the youngest of nine children and my family came from a poor neighbourhood.
“The local boys’ club taught me to box and play football and without that I would not be the person I am today. It is important to give back.”
The presence of Holyfield, now 50 and officially retired since 2012, enthralled young boxers at the club like Dylan Parker, 14, and sister Hermione, 11, who watched him sign a vest that will be framed alongside one signed by Muhammad Ali.
The four-time world heavyweight champion recalled that “someone told me I could be like Ali when I was eight”.
He said he was now proud to take over as torch bearer from Ali who had done so much good work around the world.
Holyfield, who is currently on a British tour, had been the star guest at a sporting dinner at Dunston Hall on Saturday and was due to host a similar event at the Cliff Hotel, Gorleston, last night.
The Bridge charity had been recommended to him by an official at the Kingfisher club whose wife volunteered there.
Mrs Bullen said: “We provide hot meals every Tuesday lunchtime and cater for up to 60 people.
“It is aimed at elderly people who really appreciate the company but it is for anyone in the community; we have people come along with mental health issues and drug and alcohol problems.”
She said the charity had also become a distribution point for the recently set up Great Yarmouth food bank.
Mrs Bullen said the tough economic times had seen demand for their services increase since they started three years ago.