WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Former heavyweight boxer Earnie Shavers grew up in Braceville and graduated from Newton Falls High School. He jokingly says his family was so poor, they spelled poor with only one “o” because they couldn’t afford the other one.
Shavers, now 71, still has relatives around Warren, and he was back in town Wednesday to visit. That afternoon, he spoke to 35 high school students in the Inspiring Minds program.
Shavers was given a tour by Inspiring Minds founder Deryck Toles. The organization is located in the former Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Warren.
Shavers’ talk included old stories of his fighting days.
He fought both Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes for the World Heavyweight Championship. He lost the fight to Ali in 15 rounds and was beaten twice by Holmes, but he called the experiences good ones.
“My favorite fight was Muhammad Ali, because it gave me worldwide exposure,” he said. “My best fight was Larry Holmes.”
Shavers entertained the students, such as when one asked if he ever had a major injury.
“I had a broken jaw twice, broken rib, detached retina, broken hand. Other than that, nothing,” he said, laughing.
He also talked about all of the money that he has earned, recently signing a $5-million deal to have his story made into a documentary. He now makes 10 times the money in public appearances as what he made as a boxer.
All that for a man who didn’t go to college.
“Now that I got in the fight game, I can could buy me two or three universities if I wanted them,” he said.
After, he posed for a class picture with the students and left them with one last piece of advice.
“Work hard, listen to your teachers, listen to your parents,” he said. “Be a leader; don’t be a follower. Following the crowd gets yourself in trouble. Be a leader.”
Before Shavers’ appearance, representatives with Talmer Bank showed up at the Inspiring Minds location and donated $5,000 to the organization.
Inspiring Minds is a year-long program developed by Toles to get Warren students on the right path and eventually into college.