Boxing is one of the most lucrative sports around for the handful of fighters capable of making their way to the top. But after retirement, athletes across all sports regularly end up in financially compromised situations. Due to the immense difficulty and bodily strain of fighting in the first place, fighters’ earnings are often on the scale of hundreds of millions by the time they wrap up their careers. Evander Holyfield is one of those fighters.
But today, he only holds a small fraction of his former net worth. What happened? Let’s dive into his earnings, his expenses, and his personal history to find out.
Evander Holyfield’s massive earnings from boxing alone
In his prime, Holyfield was a massive draw which meant his per-fight revenue was extremely high. His biggest fight, the infamous Holyfield vs. Tyson II, that spun out of control in a bizarre ear-biting finish by Mike Tyson, brought in just over $100 million by itself. If Holyfield was in the ring from the ’90s to the early 2000s, tens of millions of dollars would’ve been headed his way.
Celebrity Net Worth notes that Holyfield earned a whopping $230 million from fight purses alone. According to BoxRec, he earned that with 44 wins across 57 fights, including 29 brutal K.O.s that helped made him a household name. He had extraordinary longevity, sticking it out for 26 years before retiring at 51 years old.
Peak net worth
At Evander Holyfield’s absolute peak and accounting for spending, he was likely worth just over $200 million total at his peak according to Networth Buzz. His total earnings were pinned down by the Independent as around $513 million, with nearly half of that coming from endorsements and other earnings outside of the ring.
His expenses kept his net worth somewhat depressed despite all that revenue. The same Independent piece notes that Holyfield spent $10 million on a massive 45,000 square foot mansion. The home had 109 rooms, a gigantic 135 seat theater, a 100 seat dining room, and a bowling alley.
The true price was even higher, however. Holyfield took out a mortgage for $14 million on the home. And keeping such a massive space with so many amenities had many extra costs. This upkeep accounted for an additional $1 million in expenses every year.
How Evander Holyfield quickly lost over $200 million of his net worth
Holyfield’s wealth was unimaginably massive, but expenses have a way of scaling up to any level. First, an ongoing divorce settlement wrapped up after he bought his home.
His wealth was quickly slashed in two, and he agreed to $36,000 in yearly payments for child support. The deal also required Holyfield to fund his son’s future education by filling an account with $100,000.
Holyfield also committed to paying for his three children’s private educations as a personal commitment. But his enormous mansion turned out to be a much larger drain on his resources.
He defaulted on his mortgage at exactly the wrong time. In 2008, when the global housing market crashed and dragged most of the world’s economy down with it, Holyfield needed to sell his home. It ended up going for half of what he bought it for. And he remained on the hook for that massive mortgage.
His liabilities from his period bloomed into various directions as his creditors came knocking. A landscaping company sued him for $550,000 for unpaid services. He also had to pay massive penalties to the IRS over previous non-payment when his yearly earnings were still in the tens of millions.
As his net worth fell through the floor over just a couple years, the bills of a much wealthier person kept rolling in. Today, his wealth is stabilized at around $500,000. And with his kids happy, healthy, and doing well in school, Evander Holyfield couldn’t be happier with where it all ended up.