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We lost £2 gambling against Evander Holyfield

ShortList takes on the former world heavyweight champion of the world in some sporting bets

We lost £2 gambling against Evander Holyfield

When I learned that Evander Holyfield was going to be bringing his sizeable frame over to Shortlist HQ, I knew that I had been handed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I owed it to myself, and to my children, and to my children's children, to seize the moment with my bare hands.

When he arrived and seized my hands in his bare hands, I realised that I am a small man and Evander Holyfield could break all the bones in my body as easily as you or I would peel a banana.

The former heavyweight champion of the world, infamous for having his ear irreparably dented by Mike Tyson's snarling teeth, was in WC1 to promote his new gambling website, Real Deal Bet UK. I thought, therefore, that I'd get into some bets with him.


I'm not known for my arm-wrestling, I'll be honest. Not known for it. But this was the day to prove my doubters wrong: I would enter the ring with Evander Holyfield and emerge triumphant. I would grip his hand and slam it down onto the table, leading a conga dance of victory around him, my admirers clinging onto me, chanting my name.

In short, this isn't how things went down.

Evander agreed to the arm-wrestle, which was good of him. He also expressed concern that he might snap my arm off, which was equally good of him. He had been expecting a big guy, not someone of my stature. Oh yeah, I thought - that's right - climb under my cloak of false security, keep up that confidence, Evander. You think I've got nothing up my sleeve, but once that gun goes off, I'll unleash the beast upon you. I will be crowned heavyweight champion of the world, and you will be weeping salty tears of failure.

We bet £2 - high stakes - on the length of time I would last before he brought defeat upon me. I said 15 seconds; he plumped for 5 seconds. Arrogant.

Arrogant but accurate, as it turned out.

As you might be able to ascertain from the video, Evander narrowly beat me.

I lasted four seconds, which I think is pretty solid, given that at his prime my opponent could probably have killed anyone on the face of the Earth with nothing more than his right hand and a bad mood. He's 53 now, and I can tell you first-hand that he's still strong enough to lift a lorry.

I was £2 down. I was utterly humiliated. I needed to exact my revenge.

Lob Maltesers in the gob

I was pretty confident that I, nominal world champion of Throwing Things A Little Way Into The Air And Then Catching Them In My Mouth On Their Descent, would destroy Evander Holyfield in a game of 'Who can fling the most Maltesers into the air and catch them in their gob?'

The stakes, again, were high. The stakes, again, were £2.

After my humiliation, the crowd were baying for more of my blood - they wanted to see Evander throw plenty, possibly hundreds of Maltesers into his mouth, winning more of my money and heaping yet more shame upon me.

This was not to be the case.

Yes, the word you're looking for is trouncing. That was an old-fashioned trouncing. Holyfield had no option but to concede defeat after it quickly became apparent he was up against some sort of Maltesers Jedi. (Not just Maltesers, mate. I do it with grapes; Skittles; peanuts. Yes, I am available for parties.) We didn't even get to the 10 throws we had planned - Holyfield had to pull out early for fear that he might never able to recover from the shame.

I had won back my £2 and we were even once more.

American football challenge

Having recently learned that the NFL was Holyfield's first love, I knew that our final bet (another £2) would have to pertain to American football somehow. I waddled to Argos, bought a ball, and was ready to go.

The challenge was to throw the American football into a bin placed about 20 yards away from us. It soon became apparent, however, due to wind and the quality of the contestants, that the challenge should be adjusted: the aim was simply to hit the bin with the ball.

This is how we fared.

It was a long and fierce battle, and in the end, after approximately three days of hopeless lobbing and frustrated grunts, a victor emerged: Mr Evander Holyfield. He managed to graze the bin with the football and thereby win the final challenge. He took my £2 and drove off into the sunset.

It was quite a day. I learned that you never truly know how powerful an athlete is until you have actually squared up against them. Prior to our meeting I imagined I might have put up a bit of a fight against Holyfield in an arm-wrestle. But you cannot fathom how strong the man is. You cannot appreciate, until he has gripped your hand and effortlessly brought it down on the table, the other-worldly strength of a world champion.

One day, Holyfield will be back at ShortList HQ to defend his crown. One day he will return and I will win back my £2. Until then, I will be waiting in the shadows. Planning. Practising. Plotting my revenge.

For more about Evander Holyfield's betting site, visit

Follow Ralph on Twitter: @OhHiRalphJones