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Mitt Romney climbing in the ring with Evander Holyfield

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WASHINGTON, DC — The Mitt Romney of 2012 would never have dreamed of climbing into the ring with former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

It would not have appeared presidential. Plus, the Romneys simply did not highlight their charitable endeavors.

Fast forward through an unsuccessful presidential bid, plus a brief flirtation with a 2016 run, and you’ll see a Romney family far more comfortable in the spotlight.

“The whole thing makes me laugh,” Mitt’s wife Ann said, chuckling, as she told CNN about his upcoming charity boxing match in Salt Lake City. “Mitt might write like a fantastic editorial about the Iran nuclear deal and how troubling it might be and nobody reads it. But he’s going to step in the ring with Evander Holyfield and like the whole world knows.”

As for another presidential bid — an idea Mitt dismissed early this year — Ann didn’t fully rule it out. But she did say she and her husband, the former Massachusetts governor, were focused on other priorities.

“Everywhere we go everyone says the same thing, ‘Please, please, please run,’ and Mitt and I are like, we’ve done that, and we’re going to let the next group come along and see what’s going to happen there,” Ann said. “We’re in a different place right now, and we’re really focused on these charities that we’re involved with and our grandchildren.”

Romney is indeed embracing the theatrics as he prepares to face off against Holyfield in a Friday boxing match to benefit Charity International, a nonprofit that combats blindness in developing countries. Josh Romney, Mitt’s son, serves at the group’s president. Meanwhile, Ann Romney has a full slate of charitable causes that are all her own, including the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Disease. Ann has set a goal of raising $50 million for the center. She also has a memoir set to release this fall, with the proceeds to benefit the center.

Of course, embracing the spotlight has been a long process for this media-wary family.

“I hesitated for a very long time,” Ann said about deciding to document her struggle with multiple sclerosis in her forthcoming book. “I sort of felt that there are a lot of people that went through things that were much tougher than what I went through.” She said she hopes her struggle will help others facing difficult periods in their life, she said.

As for the big fight, Mitt has had plenty of training, like the occasional workout at Fullmer Brothers Boxing Gym in Utah or lifting one of his many grandchildren. And who can forget the annual Romney Olympics where the family competes in challenges like biking, swimming and hammering nails into a board?

“With the Romney Olympics now, it used to be that Mitt would lose to all the boys and that he’d beat all the girls,” Ann said. “Now he’s losing to the girls, so I’m not sure how much that’s going to help him.”