The former presidential candidate showed off his sense of humor in a battle that raised nearly $1 million for charity

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated May 16, 2015 11:10 AM
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Credit: Rick Bowmer/AP

Mitt Romney threw punches – and punchlines – in a goofy boxing match against Evander Holyfield Friday night that raised nearly $1 million for charity.

In a match-up that didn’t quite rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao’s recent “fight of the century”, the former Republican presidential candidate, 68, stepped into the ring – to strains of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” – with the five-time heavyweight champion, 52, for a match that delivered the laughs wife Ann Romney promised.

“I said please, champ, please don’t beat my brains out, because if you did I’d have to become a Democrat,” the sweaty politician quipped after the fight while wearing an amusingly over-sized green belt.

During the highly anticipated Salt Lake City match-up, the politician awkwardly threw punches at the boxing champion, knocking him down at one point in the second round. He took a couple of seconds to gloat, but then promptly ran away as Holyfield chased him around the ring. He conceded the fight as the second round drew to a close, per The Salt Lake Tribune.

Proceeds from the fight benefitted CharityVision, a Utah-based charity which works to cure blindness in poor and developing communities around the globe. Romney’s son, Josh, works with the charity and Ann sits on the board of directors.

Before the fight, Ann told PEOPLE the fight was more akin to a “comedy sketch” than an actual sporting event – and she took part in the fun when she accompanied her husband to the ring wearing gold chains and a Batman hat turned sideways.

Romney, meanwhile, walked in wearing a red robe, and when he took it off he revealed a business suit underneath. He removed it to display his red boxing trunks with help from former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, the Tribune reported.

The former Massachusetts governor trained a bit for the fight, but knew ahead of time he was no match for the burly boxing champ.

“If you’ve ever seen Holyfield train, he is, like, rock-solid. A big guy! Now, Mitt’s gone to a few boxing rings and been coached a little,” Ann Romney told PEOPLE before the match. “But he comes home and shakes his head and goes, ‘Hopeless! Hopeless!’ ”