Evander Holyfield, former world heavyweight boxing champion, is taking on an even greater role in helping displaced communities of the Syrian refugee crisis.
On November 13, Holyfield announced that he would be working to aid the alleviation cause for an estimated of 6,500 refugees fleeing from the war-torn Syrian nation, those of whom have settled in Bulgaria. During the announcement, Holyfield noted, “Somebody helped me and that gives me the opportunity to help someone else.”
The refugee crisis that has taken shape out of the Syrian civil war has become staggering. It’s estimated that 9 million Syrians have been displaced out of a population of 23 million. Syrians are settling in nearby countries such as Jordan and Turkey, most of where large camps have drawn the majority of foreign assistance — muting attention for the relatively small amount that has ended up in Bulgaria.
Holyfield and the Global Village Champions Foundation, the organization where he works as a Goodwill Ambassador, hope to raise awareness and deliver support for these refugees. To future add to the impact of celebrities bridging successful traction to raise awareness, the head of the Global Village Champions Foundation is musician, Yank Barry, from the 1960s band “The Kingsmen.”
The pairing might seem odd, but they are united in their hope to make the lives of the Syrian refugees at least somewhat easier. In an interview with CNN, Holyfield stated, “at some point in time, when you leave this earth… they’ll say: What did you do for the least of them?”
Yank Barry may not be as well known in modern pop culture, but he has been actively philanthropic in recent years. Barry founded the Global Village with Mohammed Ali in 1995, and they worked together until Holyfield took Ali’s place within the organization in 2012. Since the founding of the organization, it has sent out 900 million meals to the needy around the globe and, according to Barry, including “5,000 tons of food to (Syrian) camps” since last year.
During the 1990s, Holyfield’s biggest worries were Mike Tyson’s left hook and how he would retake a heavyweight championship belt that he ended up winning five separate times. Now, he has taken it upon himself to help the world community that he once entertained. While recent reports have claimed that Holyfield has not retained the fortune he accumulated over the course of his boxing career, his reputable standing as a celebrity can still help causes for those that never had the opportunities he did.
While the help from private foundations like the Global Village is welcomed and inspiring for others to emulate, the global community still has plenty of work to do. The UN says that the number of Syrian refugees registered in various EU countries ranks over 62,000 with more likely to come. With so many of them looking for ways to get by, the hungry continue to appreciate the influencers like those in the U.S. for the help that such refugee communities could barely survive without.
– Eric Gustafsson