My phone rang as I drove home one night many years ago. It was from a newspaper I wrote for, “Would you like to interview Evander Holyfield, the boxer?”

 “Ofcourse,” I said and images came to me of a badly bruised boxing heavy weight with a part of his ear in Tyson’s mouth.

His flight was late and as I sat in the hotel lobby, my mind went to pictures I had seen of world championships. Two men in a ring, more animal than human, glaring, eyeballing each other, moving around, their deadly, lethal fists ready to strike through opponent defense to score points or deliver a murderous knock out. Fans screaming round the ring, and millions screaming in front of television sets all the world over. Men excited, blow by blow, women swooning over brute muscle!

Holyfield had won the boxing heavyweight title, a record four times! Even Muhammad Ali had won it only thrice. Unlike Ali though, Holyfield was no bragger. His was not to growl and snarl before the fight, with menacing words and terrifying threats, his was to meet the opponent in the ring and let his fists do the talking.

His ear had been bitten off by Mike Tyson. But he’d forgiven Tyson for that bloody wound. He was called The Humble Warrior.

He walked in, slow, calm and self assured. He signed the autograph books, he smiled, a tired smile. I noticed, there was not an inch of him that was not pure muscle. I followed him to his room. He lay down for a few moments, “May I ask you a question?” I asked. He smiled, “Where does your strength come from?” I asked.

The journalist from Reuters tried to ask another question but I saw him suddenly looking at me with interest, “I want to answer his question.” Said Holyfield, pointing to me and smiling, “Yes, I believe, my strength comes from the God above!”

 “Thankyou,” I said, but Evander had not finished, ““It was tough at the beginning,” he continued, “to allow God’s muscle power to take over my muscles, but he gently took over and now I thank Him for giving me His strength! Strength not just to fight, but also forgive!”

We talked a while and later he got into one of the waiting cars and left. I waved to a great man and he waved back at me. I felt humbled. He had forgiven Tyson for that dreadful bite, when he’d lost a chunk of his ear, but now I understood where he’d got that strength to forgive. A strength that came from God!

“How many of us?” I wonder, “continue relying on our puny selves, when true strength to do the impossible comes only from a God above?”

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