Larry Holmes was born on November 3, 1949, in Cuthbert, Georgia. In the mid-1970s, he was a sparring partner for both competing heavyweight champions, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. From 1973 to 1978 Holmes won 28 consecutive bouts. In 1978 he won the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight crown. In 1983, amid ongoing disagreements with boxing promoter Don King, Holmes relinquished his WBC title.

Holmes retained the WBC crown until 1983, when he relinquished the title to become champion of the newly formed International Boxing Federation. He went on to successfully defend his IBF belt three times, upping his professional record to 48-0, just one win shy of the all-time undefeated mark set by the late Rocky Marciano. But on September 21, 1985, the heavily favored Holmes lost to Michael Spinks in a 15-round decision. A rematch six months later resulted in a similar outcome, prompting a bitter Holmes to retire.

Holmes eventually returned to boxing and fought three title fights. The first of those came in 1988, when Mike Tyson felled him in four rounds. Later, he lost championship bouts to Evander Holyfield and Oliver McCall. Holmes retired for good in 2002. He finished with an overall record of 69-6, with 44 knockouts. In 2008 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.