EMU student set to make professional boxing debut Oct. 26; classmates utilize marketing, business lessons to promote bout
YPSILANTI - Ed "Thoroughbred" Williams, an Eastern Michigan University junior majoring in industrial distribution, will go pro Oct. 26, boxing in his professional debut at the EMU Convocation Center
Bob Teehan, coordinator of EMU's industrial distribution program, has turned the event into a professional debut of sorts for two of his classes as well, encouraging students to apply what they've learned about marketing and business relationships to help promote the fight.
Williams, of Detroit, will fight Mike Fitzgerald, of Battle Creek, in a junior welterweight bout — part of the Convocation Center's first boxing event. Fights start at 7:30 p.m. Williams won more than 50 fights as an amateur.
"I didn't want to force the students to do something, so I said 'We can continue with theory or we can apply this stuff in the real world and help a friend,'" Teehan said.
His students — Williams' classmates in the close-knit industrial distribution program —took it from there.
Through the Professional Association of Industrial Distribution (PAID), students in Teehan's relationships in wholesaling and industrial direct response classes designed posters for the fight promoter. They also worked with sororities and fraternities, and other campus groups to publicize the fight and the Greek step show that shares the venue that night.
Williams, 23, has been boxing as an amateur for six years. His "Thoroughbred" nickname is a nod to his family's boxing history, in particular his uncle, Duane Thomas, who was a WBC middleweight world champion in 1985.
As a child, Williams remembers visits to Detroit's Kronk Gym and going to a Christmas party at legendary boxing trainer and Kronk Gym founder Emanuel Steward's house when he was six or seven years old. Seven-time world champion Thomas Hearns was there, along with a host of boxing's other household names. But to Williams, they were just his uncle's friends from the gym; it would be several years before he understood their place in boxing history.
It would be even longer before he laced up a pair of gloves. Though some fighters start training as young as seven years old and his uncle started at eight, Williams' mother — Thomas's sister — wouldn't let her son box until he was 16. It started for Williams when he was in high school at Detroit Denby, and his uncle started training to make a comeback
"I was playing high school basketball and I was on the cross country team, so he'd get me to run with him," said Williams. "He showed me the hand movements just a little and I was hooked from there. I purchased some gloves and started training."
In six years fighting as an amateur, Williams took the silver medal at the 2004 National Ringside Tournament, won two state titles and two Detroit Golden Gloves championships.
In the meantime, his life took a few unexpected turns. Williams became a father after his freshman year at EMU. He left the university and went to barber college. Now, in addition to school and training, he works at a barber shop to support his daughter and pay his bills.
Williams is looking forward to starting fresh as a pro, though he knows the stakes are high.
"When you're an amateur, you have room for error, he said. "Once you turn pro, your slate is clean again, and you might be an amateur world champion, you might be an Olympian and be nationally known, but you can mess around and not make a dent in the pro world."
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
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