Multiple boxing world champion Evander Holyfield says representing the United States at the Olympic Games is the highlight of his career ©Getty Images

Five-times world boxing champion Evander Holyfield says that, despite all he achieved during his time in the ring, representing the United States at the Olympic Games was the highlight of his career.

After winning Olympic bronze on home soil at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles in the light heavyweight division, Holyfield went on to become one of the greatest boxers of all time and was the first to win the heavyweight title on four occasions.

He held the undisputed championship in both the heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions and earned victories over the likes of Mike Tyson, also a former heavyweight champion who was famously disqualified during their 1997 rematch for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear, Buster Douglas and George Foreman.

The Alabama-born fighter, who claimed 44 victories in his 57 professional fights, insists, though, representing his country at the Olympic Games was the pinnacle and that his appearance at Los Angeles 1984 is the memory he remembers most fondly, despite being disqualified for a late hit during his semi-final with New Zealander Kevin Barry.

The decision angered many inside the Memorial Sports Arena and the American launched a formal protest, which was upheld by Olympic officials but they refused to overturn the result of the fight, and Holyfield opted to turn professional just three months later.

“Making the Olympic team was the best thing I did,” Holyfield told insidethegames here.

“Every time I stepped into the ring, the whole crowd were behind me and were cheering my name - it didn’t matter who I was fighting.

“It was the first time I had ever been involved in a one-sided match.

“In my later career, I’d go into the ring and someone would always want me to lose but at the Olympics everyone was rooting for me and wanted me to win.

“The whole country stood behind me and I never had a feeling like that in boxing again.”

Evander Holyfield won bronze at Los Angeles 1984 and carried the Olympic Torch during the Opening Ceremony of Atlanta 1996
Former heavyweight world boxing champion Evander Holyfield won a bronze medal at Los Angeles 1984 and carried the Olympic Torch during the Opening Ceremony of Atlanta 1996 ©Getty Images

Holyfield, a special guest of the SPORTEL convention here, gave a mixed response when asked whether he would like to see the Olympic Games return to Los Angeles exactly 40 years since it last hosted the event, with the city on the start line in the 2024 bid race along with Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome.

The 52-year-old, who remains involved with amateur boxing and also set up the Evander Holyfield Foundation, which helps underprivileged children lead successful lives, says he would “love” to see America host the Games again but that the United States “gets enough chances”.

His comments come as a number of anniversaries loom on the horizon for the American, the first of which comes on October 25, which will mark 20 years since he beat Douglas to secure the undisputed WBC, WBA, IBF and The Ring heavyweight titles.

“I always thought as a kid that you had to be unbeaten throughout your entire career if you wanted to be like Muhammad Ali,” Holyfield, who carried the Torch during the Opening Ceremony of Atlanta 1996, added.

“I didn’t think I could be heavyweight champion of the world when I lost my first fight at age 11 but then, when I fought Douglas, I was.

“When I got in the ring I knew it was either going to be an A-grade or an F but I had worked too hard in my life to get an F so I knocked him out after three rounds.”