WASHINGTON – Urging Americans to stop putting a “label” on other people because “that’s when the problems start,” boxing legend Evander Holyfield told PJM that America’s two-party political system was “set up to divide” the country.
Holyfield, who was in town for the National Prayer Breakfast closing dinner, also weighed in on the state of race relations in the nation, saying “every life matters” when asked about the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“When two people can forgive and come together and truly love each other, you know, to love someone, to know that you’re a human being, and it’s not for the color of your skin, it’s that you’re people. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Holyfield told PJM after the dinner on Thursday evening, the same day as the National Prayer Breakfast with President Trump.
“Somehow I think it’s [the political system] already set up to divide when you have a Democrat and you’ve got a Republican. What about just people? If you wasn’t a Democrat and I wasn’t a Republican, we wouldn’t be going against each other. Let’s get the best people who can do the work,” he added.
Holyfield declined to comment on Trump’s job performance, stating that he does not like to judge anyone.
“Well, I try not to get into judging. I think when you judge, somebody is going to be happy and somebody is going to be sad, so I keep my comments to myself and just do what I know I’m supposed to,” he said.
The five-time heavyweight champion was asked if he thinks the country is more divided now than it was under previous presidents.
“I think there’s just more trouble, thinking about it, more so than putting the work in – you have to do the work, you just can’t talk about it, you know what am saying, because you are always going to have somebody feel this way and feel that way. The most important thing is love itself,” he replied.
He said judging people by their political party affiliation is “just like when you get into skin color.”
“You give a person a choice, you say, they think that way because they are light. They think this because they are dark, because they’re tall, they’re short, you know, when it comes to any given time when you label something then that’s when the problems start,” he said.
Holyfield said it’s hard for him to assess the state of race relations in the U.S. at this point in his life.
“It all depends on where you’re at. I’ve moved to a whole other level. Of course, I think it’s better – I’m talking about for me, because I know when you judge life you’re talking about what’s happened to you in your community,” he said. “So, I’ve moved up, so it’s hard for me to speak for everybody. I can speak for where I came from and what I’ve done and all that, but if a person has not yet done that then, of course, they see it a little different.”
When asked if groups like Black Lives Matter have helped improve race relations in the country, Holyfield said he thinks “all lives matter.”
“I think every life matters so if all lives matter, so if this country was founded on people who came here to get an opportunity, you can’t forget that. If you came over here, somebody had to help you,” he said. “There’s always somebody – you just can’t forget that you didn’t make it by yourself. I think a lot of people think ‘we’ve always been on top.’ Nobody’s ever been on top. There’s always change.”
Holyfield was asked if he thinks lawmakers on Capitol Hill are going to be able to move past their party “labels” and solve divisive issues such as immigration policy.
“We are people. If you believe do unto others as you want them to do to you – think about it. If you were struggling and you were trying to get in, you hope somebody helps you in, but won’t nobody help you in. But I do believe that you’ve got to take care of home first. You’ve got to sweep your porch before you sweep somebody else’s porch. You’ve got to know, is this going to mess you up or not?” Holyfield replied.
“So you’ve got to start with yourself. What are you doing? The more mistakes you make, somebody is going to have to help you. Now you can’t help nobody because you are making too many mistakes to help anybody, so the fact of the matter is you’ve got to start at home first, so you’ve got to get yourself right to where you can help somebody,” he added.
Holyfield did not address the National Prayer Dinner, but he explained the role that religion has played in his life during the interview with PJM.
“I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t about faith and about Jesus. Everything that ever amounted to anything in my life was by Jesus,” said the boxer, who would often enter the ring to gospel music.
“Our country was built on [faith]. How can a country at the bottom come to the top? The only way you can come to the top is you’ve got to have Jesus – but when you pull away from it, you start going down too,” he added.
He told PJM he did not plan “at all” to advocate for any specific causes during his visit to D.C. for the National Prayer Dinner.
“The thing is I’m concerned about the country,” Holyfield said. “And when you get an opportunity to come see how people are trying to come together, pretty much I think now that people know it doesn’t work for anybody when it’s not balanced.”