By Jackie Kallen
Defensive end Ray Edwards is not the first NFL player to try his hand at boxing. At 6’5″, 268 pounds, 29 years old, and with a 5-0 record as a pro–he is on his way to fulfilling his dream–the heavyweight championship of the world.
He’s not the first, and won’t be the last, football player to trade the field for the ring. Back in the late ’70s, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, retired from the Dallas Cowboys and tried his hand at pugilism. He had six fights, scoring KOs in five of them. But he ended up returning to the NFL for another decade.
Another Defensive End, Mark Gastineau, started a boxing career in the early ’90s, and amassed a 15-2 record before retiring. He created a lot of controversy because his opponents were “questionable.” It is not uncommon to build a boxer’s record with lesser competition, but the guys he fought were beyond unskilled.
Gastineau was beaten by former Houston Oiler Alonzo Highsmith, who exposed Gastineau as a man better suited for football. He didn’t do much better, although he did manage to put together a 27-1-2 record. His opposition was not very esteemed, either. Many of his wins were against guys with records like 8-7, 2-27 and 7-20.
Edwards, living in the Atlanta area, is training with Xavier Biggs, who feels the heavyweight has a pretty good chance of succeeding. He sees a lot of potential.
“He has good speed for a big man and a lot of power. He does appear to have a lot of natural ability.”
Edwards turned pro in 2011 against Tyrone Gibson, also making a pro debut. Edwards won the decision unanimously. He didn’t fight again for a year and a half, getting back into the ring in early 2013 against Cory Briggs, knocking him out in the first round. He won two more fights last year and beat Alex Rozman this past January.
Without an amateur background, a fighter has to take it slow as he develops his career. Edwards is a smart guy who has a realistic attitude. He knows he has a lot to learn, but is willing to do what it takes to improve and expand his skills.
In order to be taken seriously, Edwards knows he has to step up the level of competition each time he fights. He wants to do that, knowing that you are only as good as the men you beat. With hard training, the right mental approach, and a lot of determination, Edwards has a lot going for him.