FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- Evander Holyfield's wife claims the boxing great hit her several times after an argument about her payments to their church, and she has received a temporary protective order against him.
Candi Holyfield, the boxer's third wife, said her 47-year-old husband hit her in the face, the back of the head and her back on the night of Feb. 1 after she refused to show him check stubs of her giving to the church, according to Fayette County court records. He was concerned she was not giving to the church.
"He said that I was being disrespectful," Candi Holyfield, 30, said in the Feb. 3 court filing. "He started telling me that I needed to start putting God first in my life."
The argument started in the middle of the night, and when the boxer turned on the light and saw her face, she said he apologized, according to the court documents.
Evander Holyfield did not return several phone calls to his cell phone seeking comment. Belinda Foster, a publicist for the couple, said in an e-mail Wednesday to The Associated Press that she'd spoken to both of them and that they remained a "strong married couple."
It was unclear whether there was a criminal investigation. Police in the couple's hometown of Fayetteville, which is about 20 miles south of Atlanta, declined to comment.
A magistrate judge signed a temporary order Feb. 3 banning Evander Holyfield from being within 500 yards of his wife and their two children, a 6-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18.
Candi Holyfield said in the protective order that the abuse against her began about six months after they were married July 1, 2003, and started again when she was pregnant with their first child. She said at first it was "mainly emotional" abuse but physical incidents have escalated since 2008.
She claimed her husband choked her in front of their daughter and housekeeper in 2008, and that last year he hit and grabbed her in front of their children. A few weeks ago, she said, he threw a bottle of water at her.
In a statement released Thursday by the publicist, Candi Holyfield said her husband was a great man and father.
"Our current situation should in no way be considered a reflection of his character. I have been with this man for nine years and will be the first to say that he has many qualities and characteristics that I admire and respect. We are all human. No one is perfect," she said in the statement.
Evander Holyfield, a four-time heavyweight champion who has earned more than $200 million in a ring, has been attempting a comeback.
But he has not fought since losing to Nikolai Valuev more than a year ago and a scheduled Feb. 20 bout against Francois Botha in Uganda was canceled after his manager said promoters were unable to deliver a pre-fight payment.
Evander Holyfield said in the fall that he had resolved his money woes, which were on public display when his sprawling home twice faced foreclosure notices.
One of Holyfield's most memorable fights came against Mike Tyson in 1997, when Tyson was disqualified after biting off part of Holyfield's right ear.