At 35 years old and nearly two years off the circuit, Michael Grant has headed back to the ring to become the heavyweight champion. “I want the big-daddy belt,” the six-ft, seven-in. tall, 260-pound boxer says.
Grant, who lives with his wife and family in Stockbridge, became interested in boxing when he was 19 years old after watching the first match-up between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. “I looked at Bowe – he was a bigger guy – and I thought, ‘I can do that,’” Grant says.
During a trip to Las Vegas, one of his friends met hall-of-fame referee Richard Steele and told him about Grant. Steele decided to meet him upon learning Grant’s size. After meeting for lunch, Steele invited him to the gym and, as Grant says, “one thing led to another and here we are.”
In addition to fighting some of the best boxers in the sport (including a match-up with Lenox Lewis for the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation heavyweight title in 2000), Grant trained with some of the best – Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum, Larry Holmes (“Larry didn’t want to spar with me because I was a young kid, a young strong kid,” Grant says. “Sometimes I didn’t know my strength and would throw a punch that was too strong for him.”) and Evander Holyfield. It could be said that he was mentored by giants, but Grant doesn’t see it that way. “You always want to have someone in your circle that’s larger than you, and they were larger than me and [boxing],” Grant says. “I kept them as my measuring sticks, and I increased and increased more and more.” His current record is 43 wins, 33 knock outs and three losses.
When he isn’t training for an upcoming match, Grant – who played college football and had several National Football League teams interested in him – coaches his son’s football team. “I love teaching football and basketball,” the father of three says. “Any sport that I’m familiar with, I love to teach.”
I created a section for H Magazine called “Henry’s Heroes” to showcase ordinary people doing extraordinary things. One of the people I found was heavyweight boxer Michael Grant. The publisher, a fan of Grant’s, accompanied me and the photographer to the interview. At one point, the star-struck publisher asked Grant to punch the photographer. Grant, whose hands can be considered lethal weapons, mercifully declined.