Fighter of Faith Ebo Elder: The Gospel Gladiator
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (April 22, 2005)
Blessed be the Lord my rock
Fighter of Faith
Who trains my hands for war
And my fingers for battle
Spiritually driven, radically saved, warrior of Christ, man of God, Ebo Elder holds many titles and the WBA lightweight championship of the world was well on its way. The fast paced, always action packed Elder, 22-1 (14), was set to face the undefeated WBA lightweight champ Juan Diaz, 27-0 (13), at Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada on ESPN’s first ever pay-per-view extravaganza April 23rd, but after Diaz suffered an injury during his last sparring session the fight has been postponed. Elder, who proved to be ‘The X-treme Machine’ last December when he came back and knocked out Courtney Burton in one of last year’s most exciting fights, was more than ready to face Diaz. In fact, he was ready to claim the title which he says no doubt he would have won, but with the setback the victory will have to wait.
The Georgia born fighter started the ‘sweet science’ at the tender age of ten and in his stellar amateur career Elder banged out a 125-12 record and earned the Silver Medal at the 1998 Goodwill Games, but after a motorcycle accident his 2000 Olympic dream was shattered, so the twenty-one year old set out to embark on a professional career.
On June of 2000 Elder won his pro debut with a first round knock out over Jason Thompson at the Fox Theater in Detroit Michigan and fought out a perfect 7-0 (4) record for his rookie season, stopping three of his opponents in the opening round. The tough-as-nails southpaw continued his domination over his opposition and in 2001 stepped in and defeated Jaime Morales in a twelve round UD for the vacant IBA Continental light welterweight title. Just two months later Elder captured the WBO Intercontinental super lightweight title in front of the ‘ShoBox: The New Generation’ crowd with a sixth round technical decision over Dagoberto Najera. Elder was on a role; the undefeated southpaw was tearing through the boxing world leaving behind a list of defeated fighters, but his perfect record was about to become broken in a humiliating way. After sixteen straight victories Elder stepped in with the fight veteran Ubaldo Hernandez and in the first round tasted the canvas and fell to a devastating defeat. After the loss Elder was stripped of his ranking and became estranged from his manager/father Greg Elder, and boxing was no longer in his vocabulary.
After letting God take control of his life and patching up the torn relationships, Ebo found a new perspective on life and got back to what he does best. Elder returned to the ring and on January 2004 made his victorious return with a third round stoppage over Tyrone Wiggins. The man was back and he was ready to set the record straight. Six fights later and all vicious victories, including four knockouts and one thrilling showdown against Courtney Burton, the Gospel Gladiator was set to get what he has strived for April 23rd on EPSN PPV. The mild mannered man trains hard and is focused for any throw down, his faith in God has brought him this far and his Christian faith will carry him even further. Not only hoping to earn the WBA title in the near future but in the process help guide others to the Light, which illuminates his pathway through life. Out of the ring Ebo is soft-spoken and very meek, but let him lace up the gloves and step into his office and Elder becomes a warrior, and is always willing to entertain the fans with his skillful trade. Elder stopped by the Doghouse to discuss the postponed bout and talk about his faith. Enjoy!
Benny Henderson Jr.: Hey Ebo, sorry to hear about the Diaz fight being postponed, how disappointing was it to hear of the cancellation?
Ebo Elder: Well I found out after my last hard workout [Laughs], the camp was over all the work had been put in a ton of money had been spent and when I when I was told the fight was off it didn’t hit me at first. It took awhile to really sink in but I realized that just like everything else in my life, I got to keep in mind that God knows more than me, he knows what’s going on, he was not surprised one bit by Juan getting cut, he knew it was going to happen. And his plan is just a little different than what I thought it was and it is going to happen a little different. As long as I stay in his will and be focused on him in the future I’m going to look back on this and man, this worked out perfect I am glad it happened that way. So at first yes I was disappointed a little bit, but when I really got on track with what I know to be the truth it is okay, and it ain’t no big deal.
BH: What will happen now, did all your training just go to waste?
EE: Yeah pretty much because the prophecy that I received was that the seventh comeback fight would be for the world title and I would win it, and that still stands. I told everybody I am not going to fight again unless it was for the world title, so they are postponing the fight and we should do it in probably June, July maybe August at the latest.
BH: Are you going to continue training until then or wait to start all over, what will you do now?
EE: Well I have taken a few days off to just kind of enjoy myself out here, I’ve got my wife out here with me and we are having a little vacation but I’m going to resume training soon. I’m actually going to go work out here in a little while. I will just stay in shape and be ready to go and wait till we hear a confirmed date and just began preparing for that. It is a shame that the training that has been done until now has been for nothing but, I am always learning and improving things and it won’t be a waste, I’ll be better for the next fight than I would have even been for this one. A lot of good things are going out here in Vegas anyway, I got tied into an awesome church out here and making a lot of new friends and connections. We are definitely making the best of time.
BH: You still going to attend the fight this weekend?
EE: Yes, my wife and I will be there. We still check the fights out and enjoy the atmosphere and what not. I can’t say that I don’t wish I were fighting. It is very unfortunate with what happened and I hope Juan just heals up quickly and we can get the show on some other time.
BH: Man what a fight it was against Courtney Burton and even an exciting finish, where did it come from?
EE: Well, in the beginning of the fight I was talking with God and I told him it was going to cross my mind to quit because I knew how hard of a fight is was going to be, early on I knew Courtney Burton came there to win. So early on I knew quitting would cross my mind and God told me if you don’t quit then I will do what you can’t do when the time comes. And from that point on I knew I was going to win the fight and I knew it was going to be a knockout, because I know God and when he does something he does it in a big way, he doesn’t just do it small. About the eleventh round I was very tired, I think Courtney and I both were but I may have been more tired than he was. In the twelfth round you’ll see that I went to go throw and left and it got caught in the ropes and at that point I pretty much just handed it over to God, I said alright, I don’t have anymore in me and that is when he did it, I felt strength come in I had confidence and every shot I landed. Right after that came the double jab left hand that started the knockout, it was a very emotional fight for me because we knew it was a God thing the whole time, but when God actually works in your behalf in such a way in front of thousand of people it amazed me that I could even be part of it. I was just blown away and taken back with emotion after that.
BH: Would that fight rank in your all time toughest bouts?
EE: That’s definitely my all time toughest bout, now I had a couple of tough ones as an amateur but they were a lot shorter. That was my all time toughest fight and I would say my greatest win to date.
BH: After your long layoff you have seemed to come out swinging with six straight dominating victories establishing your dominance and proving to the masses that you are legit in my opinion, but do you feel that you have made your point to the boxing world that you are the a force to be reckoned with or is the Juan Diaz fight the point maker?
EE: I think beating Juan Diaz will put me at level where I have never been and people are going to say that I’m not just a good fighter but I am one of the elite champions. But my real thrust in this is not that I am a dominate fighter or a world champion, my real thrust in this is that I am just a regular guy that can’t really can’t do anything on my own but I have got the power of JESUS with me, and through that I can do these things. I am only doing what HE allows me to do; I have proven that before when I lost to Hernandez, that when I’m not with CHIRST and not in his will I can’t really do anything in the ring, but when I am in his will he makes it possible.
BH: Who were some of the fighters that you looked up to when you were growing up?
EE: One of the first fights I ever saw was Hearns versus Hagler, and I remember watching Sugar Ray Leonard and I would say that Sugar Ray is probably one of my favorite fighter to be honest. He was an amazing athlete and a very smart guy, he was a smart fighter and did a lot of good things, he was fast and I just really loved his heart. There are some great fighters in that era. I met Evander Holyfield when I was ten years old and he was a big support to me and I was always very fond of Evander. When I was eighteen and fought in the Goodwill Games I met Roy Jones Jr. and became a big fan of his, I think he is awesome, he has done some amazing things.
BH: You display a strong faith in the ring, what brought you to become a believer and how important is your faith not only in your every day life but also to your boxing career?
EE: Well, I have always been a believer, I was raised in a Christian family and I always have believed. But there is a big difference in believing it and walking it, even Satan believes but obviously he doesn’t walk it. I have had to mature as a Christian and grow into walking the walk and not just talking it. There is a gigantic difference in the two, now the important in my walk in my regular live versus my fighting life really my walk is my life and the fighting is just a side show that God has given me just so that I can have a platform and a stage to tell people about my walk in general and how God has changed my life. Boxing is just a time to get the person who doesn’t know him, and if I can do that then I have succeeded in my boxing career.
I want to thank Chris O’Connell for all his help on getting this interview, it is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank the Elder family for their kindness on setting this up and a big shout out to Ebo for his time and thoughts.
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