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Love (boxing) & basketball
Former heavyweight champion's niece

By Rory Sharrock

rsharrock@news-daily.com

On the surface, it would appear boxing and basketball are polar opposites, but if you dig deeper, you'll see both sports share several similarities.

Boxers and ballers must have quick footwork, fast hands and stamina. These traits dwell within Jonesboro junior point guard Joi Holyfield, and she displays these skills on a weekly basis playing in the Southern Crescent.

It's no wonder as to where the Lady Cards' floor general gets her uncanny athleticism. She is the niece of former Olympic gold medalist and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

This multi-talented athlete, with a famous last name, has been involved in sports all of her life. In addition to basketball, Holyfield competes in volleyball, track and plans to join the soccer team this spring.

Although she was only a child during her uncle's glory days during the 1990s, she recalls being at ringside during one of his bouts, but fell asleep due to the late hours.

Throughout his illustrious career, Evander has built a reputation for having tremendous heart and being a relentless warrior in the ring.

Those genes also flow through her veins, as she too possesses a burning desire to excel in every form of competition.

"He (Evander) is very inspirational. In every round, he never gives up," she said. "There's not one time where I can say he gave up in a fight. He always continues to fight through all his obstacles. I believe I'm a warrior. I'm never going to give up and let my team down."

This past fall, she showed off that grit with the Lady Cardinals' volleyball team, which finished sixth in the Class AAAA gasports.com coaches poll.

Jonesboro captured the Region 4-AAAA title, and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, but fell 3-1 against St. Pius X.

Currently, her hoops squad is off to a 6-2 mark and 2-1 in the region. Earlier this week, she scored nine points and hit two late free throws to give Jonesboro a 44-39 win over Riverdale.

"This is very important because it's a region game. We wanted to prove that we were No. 1 in the region," she said.

Along with being a leader on the court, she also works hard as a student-athlete, ranking in the top-20 percentile in her class.

"Joi is a real good player. She's the consummate point guard who distributes the ball and gets us going," said Jonesboro girls basketball coach Jamie Horton.

"One thing I can say about Joi, not only is she a good player on the floor, but she's a good kid in school. She's in the top 20 in her class and comes from a great family."

Holyfield will look to post another victory when Jonesboro plays host to Forest Park tonight at 6 p.m.