Heavyweight Boxing Champion Instructs Eagles RB to ‘Never Quit’

Evander Holyfield attends the Golden Podium award ceremony on October 13, 2015. (Getty)

Evander Holyfield remains the only four-time heavyweight champion in boxing history. Now he’s advising his son on how to earn a roster spot in the NFL.

The 57-year-old retired boxer is the father of Eagles running back Elijah Holyfield, a role he takes great pride in on a daily basis. The elder Holyfield was spotted sitting in the stands and cheering on his son last season during the Eagles-Seahawks wild-card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia signed Elijah to the 53-man roster on Dec. 31, right before that game.

While the 22-year-old wasn’t activated on that game day, he is competing for a spot this year as the backup to starter Miles Sanders. Evander and Elijah recently spoke with 6abc’s Jeff Skversky to share how a “boxer’s mentality” might help him win the job. Here was the exchange between father and son:

“One of the things my dad said that always stuck with me, ‘Try to outwork everybody’ and ‘never quit,’ those are the two things that stuck with me the most,” Elijah told Skversky.

“When you don’t quit, eventually you get it. That’s the special part because you get tested. You get tested in life for how bad you really want it,” Evander said.

“He’s the one that always wants to do everything I did, it didn’t make a difference what it was he wanted to do,” Elijah said. “He didn’t mind getting up in the morning running and wanted to lift weights at an early age.”

Elijah recalled one more major lesson from dad, too. You must always be willing to go the distance and take that extra hit. Eye of the tiger? Maybe.

“Just not being afraid of contact, never hesitating when I run,” Elijah said. “I think that’s a big thing I got from boxing.”

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Holyfield Gets Shout Out from Eagles Head Coach

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson actually mentioned Holyfield by name when running through his depth chart at running back on Wednesday in a radio appearance. He told SportsRadio 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi that the 215-pounder from Georgia was one of the young guys he was excited about evaluating at training camp.

Holyfield will be in the mix to earn a roster spot and possibly a bigger role in the offense, depending on his performance next month. He’ll be in a fierce competition for the backup spot with veterans Boston Scott and Corey Clement, along with rookies Adrian Killins and Michael Warren III. And maybe a player to be named later via free agency. The Eagles already tried (and failed) to sign Carlos Hyde.

“Right now, we’re going to continue to look and see if we can add value, add depth, add competition to that room,” Pederson said.

Remember, Pederson was high on Holyfield going all the way back to the 2019 NFL Draft. The running back went undrafted and eventually signed to Carolina’s practice squad. But Pederson never forgot his name and the Eagles added him at the end of last season.

“We liked him all the way back in the draft,” Pederson said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I actually went to a private workout with him at Georgia this past spring and was down there. We really liked the kid coming out and all-that, so obviously had our eye on that.”

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