Evander Holyfield

This week is chock full of real life and I haven't even had time to re-read the patch notes or download the new patch yet. So I thought I'd tell you a funny story that happened to me once. This story deserves a much longer and more detailed telling, but for now I'll just stick to one aspect of it. I hope to someday have the time to write a book about some of these experiences, but until then I hope you enjoy this one.

I'm in West Palm Beach Florida. The offices of one of the richest and most famous defense lawyers in the country. An ocean-side white building with Bentleys, Mercedes, and other rich people type cars parked outside. I'm understandably nervous. I had flown down the day before with my business associate to make a presentation to a group of investors and owners in a fledging cable network. And also to participate in a charity golf tournament, even though I had never played golf before, that was happening the next day on two pristine PGA golf courses in West Palm. I was understandably nervous.

I waited in the office, the presentation room was just down the hall and I could hear people arriving. Eventually we were asked to join them and I entered a small conference room that was packed with people around a large table. The table was too big for the room, the walls were at the backs of both sides and the ends. As our host made his introductions I scrambled to do my AV Club heritage proud and hook up my laptop for the presentation.

My nerves did not get better. The introductions did nothing but make things worse. The man I would be sitting next to was Marlon Jackson, brother of Michael Jackson. (Who I would meet in person only a few short months later.) A Hall-of-Fame baseball player. A famous Hollywood director. A musician. Business leaders. A representative of Jesse Jackson's. The table was chock full of famous or semi-famous African-American leaders. And, at the far end, Evander Holyfield. Heavyweight champion of the world at the time. The man whose ear Mike Tyson had made a meal of only a short time before.

Oh, and yes, as you may have guessed by now - I was the only white person in the room.

I made my own introductions and began telling my story, why I was there and what I hoped I could do to help. Once I got going the nerves vanished, as they normally do. I'm very passionate about what I do and I believe in what I can achieve. At the time I was speaking with some authority. The nation's third largest cable company was a client of ours and we were also doing regular work for Comcast and Time Warner at the time. And while I had never specifically had a cable network as a client before, I had been involved with several on different projects. So nothing here, other than the setting and those involved, was all that unusual.

Until the snoring started.

I do want to give Mr. Holyfield the benefit of saying that it was a rather warm day in West Palm that day. The conference room was small and stuffy. But the Heavyweight Champion was sound asleep at the other end of the table. And snoring rather loudly.

I've given presentations under some weird conditions and in many strange places over my career, I once pitched two Major League Baseball players in a hunting cabin while several dead Elk, that they had shot, were being dressed. And I've given the shadow puppet presentation many times due to bad AV. So I'm no stranger to dealing with the unexpected. I soldiered on. But eventually someone else at the table stopped me and asked if I'd like them to try and wake him up.

To this day I think my response is what ultimately won us the business.

"Let's let the Champ sleep. I'm not sure he would hear you anyway with that ear of his."

There was a slight pause and then everyone laughed. The ice had been broken and the rest of the meeting went easily and casually. Eventually Mr. Holyfield joined us on his own. I don't think anyone ever said anything to him about what he might have missed. Which is probably for the best.


  1. Wouldn't you have a few inches in height over the Champ? Better reach too, I'd wager.

    1. Yes, I am taller than him. But I'd still lose that fight. Badly.

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