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Molding a champion

Holyfield's team works together to ensure success

  Evander Holyfield Evander Holyfield has a team of four people who prepare him for battle in the ring
(Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport)

ATLANTA (CNN/SI) -- Boxing is unlike any other business. When you've made it -- and Evander Holyfield has -- you go long periods between fights. No matter how fit he stays, Holyfield still must sharpen his focus during six rigorous weeks of training.

"The ultimate thing is to have no weakness," Holyfield said. "When I go in as a master, ain't nothing in boxing I can't do."

But he can't do it alone, and the four people who plot his strategy, mold his technique and sculpt his body understand the last thing their boss wants is a bunch of yes men.

"What he needs is to know what he has to do in order to achieve what he's trying to achieve," said Tommy Brooks, Holyfield's co-trainer. "And you can't get that by saying 'Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir, yes champ, yes champ, yes champ.' You know you got to tell him what he needs to know."


Evander Holyfield's believe it or not!


Evander Holyfield and and his co-trainer, Tommy Brooks, explain what it takes to win
QuicktimeQuicktime (1.5M)

Holyfield's other trainer, Don Turner, prepares Evander for combat
QuicktimeQuicktime (1.4M)

Holyfield's masseuse, Sharon Stewart, takes care of his body
QuicktimeQuicktime (800K)

Tim Hallmark prepares Holyfield with innovative training methods
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"Tommy Brooks had the opportunity of working with me coming from the Olympics so he is a guy that pretty much [has] seen every level that I have been on," Holyfield said.

Tommy Brooks is always there -- prodding, evaluating. But if Holyfield has a head coach, it's Don Turner, whose ever-critical eye misses nothing.

"When you're going back, you're defenseless." Turner said.

"Don Turner is a boxing instructor," Holyfield said. "He is the one that comes up with the battle plan."

Turner got his start carrying a spit bucket at Gleason's Gym in New York. He trained Larry Holmes when he lost to Holyfield. Now, he's on Evander's side and Turner calls the champion the smartest fighter he's ever seen.

"I think his intelligence, that's what took him to victory over Tyson," Turner said. "He outsmarted him then he beat him up."

Holyfield is wise enough to know that his body is his temple, and so masseuse Sharon Stewart is there to keep her finger on the pulse of this fighting machine.

"If there's any inflammation, I can ice it," Stewart said. "If there's just a knot, we can work that out. Sometimes he needs to go to the chiropractor, if something is locked up and needs to be adjusted."

Holyfield has built himself into a full-fledged heavyweight through diet and nutritional supplements, and by breaking a long-time boxer's code by pumping iron. This he does under the supervision of strength and conditioning trainer Tim Hallmark.

"The things that he taught me and gave me the knowledge of I have realized 'Hey, this do work now!' The whole boxing world realizes the weights do work. They don't stiffen you up. You still can float," Holyfield said.

Tyson and Holyfield Evander Holyfield (right) and Mike Tyson fought last June in the infamous ear biting bout
(Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport)

But Hallmark has brought in more cutting edge technology, including a harness machine he designed to maximize Holyfield's punching power.

"He's ever more aware of how important it is that he starts with his legs because power is strength times speed. Just lifting weight is not enough," Hallmark said. "When you're hitting a baseball, a golf ball, a tennis ball, throwing a body shot, throwing a right hand jumping off the blocks -- all force -- it starts from the ground up."

The gym is where the heavyweight champion's foundation is poured. And the job of Evander Holyfield's team is to make sure there are no cracks in the concrete.

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