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Holyfield admits fathering children out of wedlock

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Posted: Tuesday September 22, 1998 06:07 PM

  Holyfield has nine children, five of them born out of wedlock to four women AP

ATLANTA (AP) -- Two days after retaining his IBF and WBA heavyweight titles, and only one week after his second wife gave birth to their first child, Evander Holyfield admitted that he has fathered two children out of wedlock in the past year with previous girlfriends.

Holyfield now has nine children -- the newborn Elijah Jedidiah to his wife, Janice; three with his first wife, Paulette, from whom he has been divorced since 1991; and five others born out of wedlock to four women.

Holyfield made the admission in an interview published in Tuesday's editions of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Holyfield, who beat Vaughn Bean in a 12-round decision Saturday night at the Georgia Dome, described his wife as "my best friend," but admitted he regretted getting married almost immediately after they met in October 1996.

The couple has been in and out of counseling since then, he said, but he declined to address the future of his marriage.

Holyfield, 35, knows he will be criticized, but said:

"I know everything comes out of the dark and into the light sooner or later. It might as well be now. If you don't want nothing [known about your actions], then do nothing. I'm not perfect. But I have overcome other things in my life, and I will overcome this."

Two boys, Eleazar and Elijah Elias, were born 11 months and 10 months ago. When the women became pregnant, Holyfield said he was sad and angry about the state of his marriage and admitted, "I started going back to my old habits."

He said he told his wife of his infidelity and the impending births and suggested they get divorced, but she declined and the two continued to attend counseling.

Holyfield, who is one of nine children born out of wedlock to Annie Holyfield, had his first child with his first wife a year before the two wed in 1985. Evander Jr. is now 14.

"I thought I should do the right thing and marry [Paulette]," he said. "But that turned upside-down. If you don't take the time to know somebody before you marry them, look what happens. If you look at the situation with Janice, it was the same thing. The same things you do produces the same result."

Holyfield has primary custody of his three children with his first wife. The mothers of the other five children are primary caretakers, but the children spend time with Holyfield. He provides for all of them financially.

Holyfield said the recent births of his out-of-wedlock children made him realize he needed to match the discipline in his personal life that he uses in boxing.

"It took me a long time to figure this out," he said. "How come I keep making bad decisions? How come I can make good decisions in a boxing ring but not in my life? When I'm in training, I do exactly what I'm told to do. But in my personal life, I think that if I don't do what I want, it'll be all right."

Ironically, Holyfield was chosen recently as a spokesman by the National Governors Association for mentoring programs for fatherless children.

He said he was picked because of his background as a youngster and as an adult.

"Somebody asked me, 'Why would you represent kids who were born out of wedlock?' I said because I didn't have a father and I know what it's like. I know these kids will continue to hurt and need to be taught about their situation so they don't make the same mistakes," said Holyfield.

His wife did not want Holyfield speaking publicly about their situation.

"Tell them Evander's wife has forgiven him, and that's all that should matter," she said through Holyfield's attorney, Jim Thomas.

"She doesn't feel too good about this," said Holyfield. "She said, 'Don't tell them anything.' But the way I feel is, let me hang myself with my own words; I don't want someone else to hang me with theirs.  

Related information
Determined Bean falls to Holyfield in 12-round decision
In-depth features on Holyfield from CNN/SI
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