Home Boxing News Ex-NFL star Langford using boxing as a platform to educate young...

Ex-NFL star Langford using boxing as a platform to educate young minds

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (May 3, 2011) At this time a year ago, Jevon Langford sat ringside at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas absorbing the atmosphere in the waning moments before Floyd Mayweather’s title bout against “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

His weight had ballooned to nearly 400 pounds. Excessive drinking and partying had taken its toll on his body – and finances. Divorced, depressed and far removed from the spotlight he once adored, Langford decided to change the course of his future rather than continue to lament his tortured past.

“I sat there watching that fight thinking, ‘I could have all of this if I get my act together,’” said Langford, a former NFL defensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals who also won six bouts as a heavyweight boxer before leaving the sport eight years ago.

“I was tired. This lifestyle wasn’t even fun anymore. If you’ve been at the top before and you’ve been something in life, it’s hard for a man to just sit there and accept this. I just knew I was a better person than this and had to do something about it.”

Twelve months and nearly 140 pounds later, Langford is lean, focused and ready to renew his boxing career Friday, May 6th, 2011 on the undercard of Jimmy Burchfield’s “Champion Breed” show, presented by Classic Entertainment & Sports at the Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Fox Theater in Mashantucket, Conn.

Langford (6-0, 6 KOs), originally from Washington, D.C., and now training with Peter Manfredo Sr. in Pawtucket, R.I., will face veteran Tobias Rice (2-3, 2 KOs) of Macon, Ga., in his first fight since May of 2003. Unlike most professional athletes, Langford isn’t stepping back into the ring to recapture lost fame or fortune, but rather to use boxing as a platform to ensure future stars will travel a much smoother path to stardom than the one he traveled growing up.

“A lot of people use boxing to get girls and money. They let it define them,” Langford said. “I’ve been in all of those situations. That’s why I’m different. I’ve got a story these guys haven’t been through yet. The real character of a man is tested in how you come back. Not too many come back when they’ve been knocked off that block, but I’ve already come back.”

The depths to which Langford sank provided the inspiration for his recent turnaround. A fourth-round draft pick by the Bengals in 1996, Langford quickly crafted a niche as a pass-rushing specialist before a flurry of coaching changes and injuries derailed his career toward the end of the decade.

After failing to cash in after his contract expired in 1999 – a knee injury limited his production during his contract year, which diminished his value on the open market – Langford quickly lost interest in football. Two years after re-signing with the Bengals, Langford became an afterthought, cut during training camp in ’02, but the beginning of his boxing career helped eased the initial pain.

The great grandson of Hall of Fame boxer Sam Langford, Jevon Langford stepped into the ring for the first time in 2001 during his sixth and final season with the Bengals – a decision that irked Cincinnati owner Mike Brown – and become the first professional athlete to simultaneously box and play football. Langford signed a promotional agreement with Burchfield in ‘02, but despite winning each of his first six fights by knockout, he never fell in love with professional boxing the way he once loved football.

“When I was doing it simultaneously, it was about the crowds and the name,” Langford said. “Here I was just being a gimmick. I wasn’t living like a fighter. I wasn’t doing the right things, so it was time for me to be done with it.”

Langford turned away from boxing and turned directly to alcohol – “I drank like a fish,” he said – while paying for his friends to fly to his home in Vegas for weekends of expensive partying. His marriage ultimately suffered, ending in divorce in 2006, and he lost custody of his two children. The money he earned during his playing career quickly began to run out, too.

“My lack of discipline took over,” he said. “Life was like a revolving door. I had no structure other than football, and when that was gone, I was in self-destruction mode.”

Having hit rock bottom, Langford eventually remarried in 2008. Jayna Langford gave birth to the couple’s first child soon after, and Jevon Langford credits his second wife with providing the backdrop for his resurgence.

“She had to have seen something in me,” Langford said. “Women don’t take in broke-ass dudes and just let them live there.”

While Langford has always taken responsibility for his mistakes, he also points to his cultural upbringing – or lack thereof – as the catalyst for his undoing. Growing up in Washington during the nationwide crack epidemic of the ‘80s, Langford was raised by his father after his mother left their family when he was 10. Blessed with natural size and speed, Langford got by solely on his athletic ability, starting with his high-school days at Archbishop John Carroll and continuing throughout his college career at Oklahoma State.

“I never cared about school as long as I ran fast and got sacks,” Langford said. “If I produce on the field, I’ll get drafted – that was my mentality. My father kept me in line somewhat, but I still had no understanding of what school was. I thought I was there to pass the time. I took the shortcuts my whole life, and that lack of discipline and structure caught up to me in the NFL.

“I lived that dangerous lifestyle. That’s why a lot of us are broke. We don’t know anything about banking. I’m breaking that cycle now with my kids. I will tell them, ‘You can be a big star, but you won’t cheat the system.’ I want my son to play sports, but I want him to do everything I didn’t do in my career.”

When he steps into the ring Friday, Langford will throw each punch with a sense of purpose, hoping each subsequent victory brings him closer to his ultimate goal of using boxing as a platform to steer young children down the right path.

“I’m not using boxing to define me,” he said. “I need it to symbolize me to get my message out. Ninety-six percent of the world is filled with followers. Only four percent are leaders. We need more leaders in this world.”

Super middleweight Vladine Biosse (11-0, 6 KOs) will star in Friday’s main event against former Russian kickboxing champion Denis Grachev (9-0, 5 KOs) of San Diego; and New Haven, Conn., super middleweight Elvin Ayala (22-5, 10 KOs) will face George Armenta (13-6, 11 KOs) of Silver Spring, Md., in the co-feature.

The undercard of “Champion Breed” stars New Haven lightweight Christian Lao (1-0, 1 KO) facing Barrington Douse of Springfield, Mass., in Douse’s professional debut; and unbeaten middleweight Thomas Falowo (2-0, 2 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., taking on Cincinnati’s Zach Thomas (1-3). New Haven middleweight Rick Dawson (3-0, 1 KO) will take on Odias Dumezil (3-5, 1 KO) of Winter Haven, Fla., who now trains at 401 Boxing in East Providence, R.I., Providence cruiserweight Maurice Cole will make his debut against Shawn Brooks of Thomson, Ga.; and New Bedford, Mass., junior welterweight Johnathan Vazquez (3-0, 3 KOs) will return to the ring for the first time since November in separate four-round bouts.

Tickets for “Champion Breed”, priced at $40, $65 and $105, can be purchased by calling the Foxwoods box office at 800.200.2882, or online at www.foxwoods.com. For more information, visit www.cesboxing.com or www.foxwoods.com. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7:30.

Visit www.Ringnews24.com for the latest boxing news, press releases, interviews and fans’ own articles, or follow us on twitter @ringnews24

{loadposition boxing}