Stone-faced Holyfield has starring role in road rage PSA
ATLANTA (AP) Flashing the same stone-faced glare that once was so familiar in the boxing ring, Evander Holyfield appeared headed toward another fight.
This time the challenge came from a hot-tempered motorist who felt he had been cut off as Holyfield pulled out of a driveway. The driver, unaware he was about to encounter the former four-time heavyweight champion, forced Holyfield off the road and slammed his hand onto the hood of Holyfield’s SUV.
The enraged driver continued to yell curses and threats, demanding Holyfield get out of the vehicle. Holyfield obliged, opening the door. No longer hidden by the SUV’s tinted windows, Holyfield was immediately recognized and the motorist backed away, mumbling ”I didn’t know it was you.”
It was an example of how road rage can lead to unexpected big trouble – and it wasn’t real. Holyfield and his misguided antagonist were only acting in a short public service announcement.
The closing message: ”Avoid road rage. You never know who you might run into.”
Holyfield had no speaking line in the new PSA, which lasts about 30 seconds and is supported by several Georgia law enforcement agencies. He said he was happy to participate because he has seen road rage up close, when he was only 17 and driving a beat-up jalopy instead of a luxury SUV.
He said his car ”just stopped” in the middle of the road and he was challenged by an older driver.
”Somebody was blowing their horn and they got out and they just talked to me any kind of way, you know,” Holyfield said. ”I fought then. I wasn’t heavyweight champ of the world. I was 17, but I could fight and the guy is talking all this noise. He was probably thinking I can’t fight. I was a good fighter. I was an amateur champion.”
Holyfield said he ”did the wise thing” by remembering advice from his mother to ”just chill.”
”But, you know, in a moment I was upset and I knew the man couldn’t whup me and I could have got out there and fought, but I was embarrassed because my car was raggly and it stopped,” he said.
Holyfield, 52, officially retired in 2014 after having no fights since 2011.
”It is a good place in my life now,” he said.
Part of his time is spent using his celebrity to bring attention to causes. He made an appearance at NASCAR’s event at Atlanta Motor Speedway in August as a spokesman for Feed the Hungry.
”I feel it is very important because what’s the point of being successful if you’re not going to use it to help somebody other than yourself?” he said.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said Holyfield was the perfect choice for the road rage PSA.
”Everyone knows Evander Holyfield,” Olens said. ”Everyone knows he’s a former four-time heavyweight champion. And everyone knows they don’t want to mess around with him.”
Associated Press video journalist Johnny Clark in Atlanta contributed to this report.