BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
LAYTON – Sometimes, it’s the second love that lasts the longest.
Ogden boxer Billy “The Kid” Zumbrun, who will fight for the Utah Heavyweight Title on Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, started out as a football player. It’s boxing, however, that’s been his passion for the last decade and a half.
“It’s something I love,” said Zumbrun. “When you get exposed to boxing, it lights a fire in you.”
He first came to the sport after graduating college, in between tryouts for different NFL teams. An associate suggested he get involved in boxing, and Zumbrun protested that he was a football player, not a boxer.
“It was just supposed to keep me in shape until the next tryouts,” said Zumbrun with a laugh. “That was 16 years ago.”
Zumbrun will face off against Las Vegas native Henry Namauu for the title match, his second chance at a title in his 13-year professional career. According to BoxRed.com, Zumbrun is ranked 57th out of 391 fighters in the U.S., while Namauu is ranked 73rd. Still, Namauu is more than a decade younger.
“I’m very excited,” said Namauu. “I’m healthy, happy and ready to do what I have to do to make this an awesome fight.”
Zumbrun is just as excited.
“I’m a competitive person,” he said. “It’s nice to get recognized.”
The Aug. 17 match, which will include nine other fights, may help give the sport increased recognition. Utah has been home to several well-known boxers, including 1959 Middleweight Champion of the World George Fullmer, but the sport’s popularity fell dramatically during the last few decades.
“There were a lot of good fighters in Utah before the 1970s, but then I guess the bigger market cities took over,” said Zumbrun. “I have no idea why it didn’t catch on.”
If people came to see the fights for themselves, he’s sure that would change.
“Once you actually watch it, you realize it’s not as brutal as you thought,” he said. “You see the strategy and philosophy behind it.”
In fact, Zumbrun feels that boxing is far better at showing both strategy and philosophy than mixed martial arts.
“The fights last longer,” he said. “It gives you a chance to see more technique.”
Zumbrun, who has a master’s degree in educational counseling, has trained both boys and girls in boxing. He hopes to show parents that it’s not such a bad thing if their children show interest in the sport.
“Some parents are afraid that it will just help their kids get in fights,” he said, “but the more a kid knows and experiences, the more confident he is and the less likely he is to act out. For some kids, it might be a good idea to go train.”
Other fights at the August 17 event
• Maricella Cornedi vs. TBA
• Damien Willis vs. Dante Craig
• Geovanni Sarran vs. Scott Alexander
• Jose Haro vs. DeWayne Wisdom
• Evgeny Churakov vs. TBA
• Fedor Popazov vs. Emmanuel Addo
• Bahodir Mamadjanov vs. Rynell Griffin
• Jessie West vs. Keith Bush
• Charles Presnell vs. TBA
*Fight card subject to change