IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd knows what it takes to make a champion and a champion he is. Sacrifice, dedication and the willingness to fight under any circumstance and against any opponent that gets in the way of his goals. Since Byrd's debut back in 1993 he has compiled a respectable record of 37-2-1 (20) and has held the USBA, WBU International and the WBO heavyweight belts and currently holds the IBF heavyweight title. He is a champion, a family man and a man of faith, and his faith comes first. In a sport where trash talking plays a significant role along with a flashy entourage, Byrd has let his hands do the talking and has kept his career a family affair. Byrd's father Joe Byrd plays the part of his manager and trainer, his wife is his business manager, his mother is in his corner, and he makes his ring entrance with his son by his side. With his calm demeanor Byrd shows nothing but respect to his opponents out of the ring, but in the ring he turns into the stylish southpaw that has brought him to this very point in life. We all have seen the fighting side of the champ and now we will take a peak into his personal views and thoughts on life. As a loving father and husband, he is a dedicated Christian and knows the importance of being the best role model for the children as he can possibly be. In the second installment of an exclusive interview Doghouse conducted with Chris Byrd we get to know his personal side and talk about his faith in Christ, his future after the sport and possible future opponents.
Benny Henderson Jr.: You are very open with your beliefs. How does your faith in Christ play in your career?
Chris Byrd: Oh, it is major, my faith in Christ is just huge, it is everything. It is my first love then it is my wife and then my kids. I give all my praises to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ because he allowed me to be in this heavyweight division to represent him. And I represent him as champ because it is more exposure I get to represent Christ even more. This isn’t about me it is about him. And people may love it or lump it, but this is who I am and while I am here this is my mission field to let Jesus shine and let him get all the glory and praise.
BH: Having you parents in your corner, how does that work?
CB: Oh man it is great. Son and parents usually doesn’t work and we have made it work. We have has our rough times but that is just coaching and boxing. They have been there since I started the sport and we are still doing it now. And many boxers can’t say that, for me it works and it is great.
BH: Coming from a boxing family did you feel that you were obligated to fight?
CB: Not at all, my father never pushed us into boxing. If we wanted to do it, it was up to us. On that note he didn’t want us to waste his time either. His thing was if you come to the gym you didn’t come to play, you come to train. This is not a place to play and if you were coming to play, stay home. We wanted it, especially my brother Patrick who was really good and I just wanted to be like him. My brother Ronnie was really good and I wanted to be like him also. I just went really to watch those guys and go on a trip. Then I started to picking up and getting better. It was never a force full thing in our family.
BH: What fighters did you look up to growing up?
CB: Oh my goodness, every major fighter out there. It was guys like Aaron Pryor, Ray Leonard and John 'The Beast' Mugabi, man I can name hundreds of fighters that we watched on free television on non-pay TV especially back then. There were a lot of fighters my brother and I would try to imitate. It was just great growing up in a boxing family and having so many people in the family love the sport of boxing. We tried to imitate every one of them.
BH: My brother and I would put the gloves on and do the same thing but I always got the raw end of the deal.
BH: You are in the spotlight so do you feel it is your duty to be the best role model as you possibly can be, and do you have to strive at it or does it come natural?
CB: It is a little bit of both. It is more on me as a Christian than an athlete. I think if you represent Jesus Christ people expect you to be a little bit different. They expect you to be a role model and expect you to be a clean living guy. Somebody who doesn’t run around on his wife and party a lot, I’m that type of guy and it’s not fake. I live my life for real, I’m not perfect by any means but I try to be a role model to the kids. I try to be the perfect athlete if you will. That is how I live my life, I feel you shouldn’t drink or smoke and you should train real hard. Just live a clean healthy life and all the way around be very honest. That is the perfect athlete in my opinion. So what you see is what you get.
BH: In the future there could possibly be a Vitali Klitschko versus Chris Byrd II. What are thoughts on a rematch and how would you approach this fight?
CB: I think it would be great I’m actually very excited to have that mission. As a fight I would approach it basically the same. I fought him the first time on a short notice so I would have more time to train for him. I would be so pumped up and ready to fight him. To me everything is competition and I feel you can’t beat me and when I get in the ring I am a counter puncher. I change up, I am like a chameleon; I can change up all different ways to try to beat you. I would be just so excited to get the rematch. Whatever happens, happens; I will just train hard just like I always do and the best man will come out on top.
BH: After the McCline bout is there any particular fighter that you would like to face?
CB: Hmm, good question. Yes, I would love to fight guys like James Toney. He talks a lot about me and my wife so I would love to fight him. No animosity, it's not like I hate him but he is talking trash so he has to step up to the plate. That is how I feel you should fight. We will see who is the best guy. I am not a big trash talker so I don’t try to get into all that craziness that goes on with trash talking. I think you have to step up, if you are going to talk trash I believe you are going to have to back it up. He is the guy who is on my list of fights.
BH: I remember when he talked all that trash about you.
CB: Oh yes, I am like whatever, sign the contract. Let’s fight. I love the sport of boxing and I will fight you anywhere, I don’t care.
BH: Looking into the future, what will you do after boxing?
CB: Minister, anything dealing with the ministry and helping kids. I’m a big kid myself and I want to help kids and be a part of the ministry. What ever the Lord calls me to do I will do it. That’s the things I will be doing.
BH: Is there anything you want add to this interview?
CB: Well for the fans I want to say thank you for the support and for the fans that really enjoy my style of boxing. They hung with me through the good times and the bad times and still were fans. Hopefully I can give them more enjoyable fights in the future.
I would like to thank Chris's wife Tracy Byrd for setting this interview up and I would like to personally say thank-you to Chris Byrd for his time and his thoughts. It was a pleasure and an honor to talk with you and to finally meet you. For more info on Chris Byrd he welcomes you to visit his website: ChrisByrdBoxing.com - Official Web Site of Chris Byrd.
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