Ed Latimore: Boxing’s Renaissance Man

By Caryn A. Tate on September 21, 2016
Ed Latimore: Boxing’s Renaissance Man
“Getting punched is traumatic no matter who you are.” (Christopher Nolan/MetCon Photos)

“I could probably have chosen an easier life than that of a fighter, but…what is easy, what is hard, those are just feelings, not facts…”

It’s not every day that you hear about a boxer who is also a military veteran and an author. But heavyweight hopeful Ed “Black Magic” Latimore is all three.

This Friday, September 23, he will face off against Trey Lippe Morrison on Showtime’s ShoBox: The New Generation at 10pm ET/PT in the 6-round telecast opener. I got the chance to chat with Ed as he was wrapping up his training camp.

The Early Years
Like a lot of boxers, Ed had a tough start in life: he grew up in a housing project, in what he calls “a pretty rough area.” But he persevered and displayed a fighter’s will and focus by ensuring that when he left that area at 18, he never returned and doesn’t hold any ties to his old neighborhood or life.

He got a late start to the sport at age 22. “I walked into a boxing gym, the closest one to where I was, and I just decided that if I was going to leave this sport I was going to have to be beat out of it. I don’t really know how to quit or give up on things.”

Latimore went on to have a decorated amateur career with a solid 40-11 record, and was the 2011 Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion. During his four years as an amateur, he defeated Dominic Breazeale and former IBF champion Charles Martin, both by decision. His hopes for competing in the 2012 Olympics were dashed at the All-American Heavyweight tournament, when he was defeated by Breazeale in their second bout.

Ed was frank when discussing his amateur career, even that meaningful defeat. “Me beating Dominic changed my life because that’s what got me to All-American Heavyweight, and that’s what extended my amateur career, really build my amateur stock. And him beating me really changed his life incredibly. That’s what’s cool about the amateurs, it’s the luck of the draw, the random selection, and you don’t know what [any result] will do.”

About the possibility of facing Breazeale or Martin again in the pros, Latimore was practical. “Whatever makes the most sense business-wise. I know just enough about this sport to know that calling out fighters is useless because what ultimately occurs is the best business decision. If those guys fight again, I think it would make a great storyline considering how we all crossed paths at All-American Heavyweight out in California and that’s how we know one another…but if those are the guys I have to go through, they’re the guys I have to go through—it doesn’t really matter to me.”

The Pros
Now a professional, the heavyweight hopeful has built up a promising record of 13-0 (11 KOs). Latimore signed with promoter Roc Nation in December of last year, and has a pragmatic outlook on his boxing career. When asked why, considering his many interests and talents, he chose to become a professional boxer, he said, “It’s just the natural progression. I put a lot of time into my amateur career and made probably some unreasonable sacrifices for the average person. The amount of time you put into developing a particular skill gives you leverage in not just that ability but in related disciplines. I put four years into amateur boxing—by all accounts at least a good amateur career. There’s no reason for me to not turn pro.

“And I enjoy it. It’s not like a chore. I could probably have chosen an easier life than that of a fighter, but…what is easy, what is hard, those are just feelings, not facts. It’s turned me into a way better individual than I think I would have had I taken a normal person’s path and gotten a desk job or something.”

Something Latimore has in common with many successful people who came from poverty and destructive surroundings is what motivates him. “When things get tough, I remember I’m not built to deal with the normal world. I don’t want to go back to [it]. What motivates me is I don’t want to considered regular. I want to do something different. Another thing is self-improvement. I’m a better person because I started boxing in every way, shape, and form. It’s not even a question…I’m very happy with the person I’ve turned into, and I look forward to the person I continue to metamorphose into through boxing.”

Preparation, Style, and Inspiration
When he prepares himself on fight night, Ed’s primary focus is staying calm. “I move around, listen to some good music I like, and I think about how to stay calm. I focus on my breathing, that keeps me calm, I remember I’ve done this before, I think about the advantages I have. I try to put my mind about everything in my favor, and everything that will calm me down. It does me no good to think about the negatives, to think about what could go wrong or where I’m disadvantaged or anything like that…I can’t control those things, but they’re also going to make my job more difficult mentally. If I can find things to laugh about that makes things even better. In many ways I don’t even think about the fight.

“Going up to the ring, I just—I want to get hit. Because no matter how many times you do it, your mind makes the monster bigger than it really is. Then when you get hit, you go, ‘That’s right, this doesn’t really hurt that bad. You know what this feels like, you’re fine.’ Getting punched is traumatic no matter who you are, and you’ve got to remember what that is about. I don’t get particularly nervous or worried because I don’t see any use in it. I try to focus on what I can do well, how comfortable can I get. Above all things, I don’t care about knocking a guy out or hurting a guy—my main concern is staying calm. ‘Cause when you do that, you can react in the moment and live in the moment. So get that first hit out of the way, and stay calm. Stay calm and good things happen.”

Latimore defines his style as “pressure, pressure, pressure. I’m smaller, only 6’1”, the heaviest I’ve been is 220, 225, so I have to give my opponents something to worry about. It’s a lot easier to win the fight when I’m pressing my position…I do not want my opponent to have the chance to sit there and think about anything. I want [his reactions] to be as close to instinctual reactions as possible.”

For inspiration, “Black Magic” looks to fighters including Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson. “I really like watching some of the old Tyson, and the old Joe Frazier fights. I’m a big fan of those guys because they have the same height disadvantage I think I’ll face over the course of my career. And the ferocity and the attack they brought to the fight I really enjoy.

“In terms of just toughness and entertainment, I love watching Arturo Gatti and Roberto Duran. I don’t think Arturo Gatti is the best study for technique but boy, if you want a lesson in heart, you can’t do any better. For some reason, I like watching a lot of Marvin Hagler fights. I watched Hagler-Mugabi the other day and I was like, Man, this is hard fight, but that’s what I really like about Marvin Hagler, how poised he is in his fights.

“Even the Tyson ferocity, especially like in his first 18 fights or so, we’re talking pre- Buster Douglas, you can see how intense and ferocious he is, but it is very deliberate. It’s such a calm, deliberate attack. I think that is such a strong indicator of who will win the fight, who can keep their brain waves even and calm and still execute. It’s like if you’re getting hit in a fight—and this is such a gift of the amateurs—you can learn how to get rattled. I think every guy needs to get rattled. If you haven’t been rattled, and then [it happens] you don’t know what to do. You might do something crazy. But now you’ve been rattled, you know how to calm yourself down, and it’s no big deal. You know how to stay calm and stay in control of yourself.”

Outside the Ring
Ed just finished a nearly four-year stint in the Pennsylvania National Guard in July. Otherwise, aside from boxing, he writes. “I’ve always written. I take things I learned the hard way and break them down the easy way. I draw from many things I’ve learned in life. I’m lucky to have survived unscathed. So I’m in a position to inspire and teach through my writing. I have some free books to download from my website, one about building confidence, called The Four Confidences, to explain how to build confidence because confidence seems to be like work experience. Like, “we need you to have experience to get this job,” but how am I gonna get this job if I don’t have experience?

“So I think that’s a circular flaw we also encounter in building confidence…like ‘I didn’t do well at a thing to build confidence, but to do well at the thing I need confidence.’ So I wanted to write about four ways, four confidences, to build your confidence so you can execute in any discipline you want to. And what I’m working on right now is a book about some Twitter poems I composed, limited to 140 characters, and I wanted to break down to explain what I meant in each poem.

“Boxing can be taken away from me at any time. My mind can’t be. So I like to make sure while I’m developing myself physically to box I’m also not neglecting everything else.”

As he wrapped up his training camp, Latimore reflected on how he spent his time in and out of the ring. “[I’ve been doing] a lot of sleeping, to be totally honest with you. This is the biggest fight of my career, so we have put a bigger training camp in. It’s not like we’re training specifically, we’re just doing more work. I am absolutely amazed by how much I can sleep and eat. I’m talking like 10 hours of sleep, plus food, I think I’ve put out over the past six weeks maybe three articles, maybe not even that, so I’m not doing [much of anything else].”

When asked if he’s grateful that, as a heavyweight, he doesn’t have to be concerned about making weight, he laughed, “Extremely grateful. I don’t think I like boxing enough to where if I had to make weight, I’d still be doing it. Once upon a time I did two cage fights. I did light heavyweight because the way heavyweight works in MMA, and the ground dimension, it just wasn’t gonna work for me to be heavyweight. So I did light heavyweight. And I did it smart, I reduced all the carbs in my body, and just let my body burn fat, and was smart about it. I got down to 203 and 205, and I’ll tell you what, it was still miserable. I could still eat whatever I wanted to eat that was not a carbohydrate. So it was actually healthy for real, but it was horrible. You hear them tell you that sugar’s a drug and you think that’s just something they’re telling you to scare you. Naw, man…I’ve never been on crack, never smoked crack, but quitting crack might be easier than quitting sugar. I don’t even eat Swedish Fish and I’d be walking through the store and looking at these big ass bags of Swedish Fish, and thinking…ah, man, if only I could have one. That’s not even sensible because I don’t even eat that when I can eat it.

“I just don’t think I like the sport to where if I had to cut weight, I would do it. At least not for free, definitely not in my amateur career. Maybe as a pro if somebody said, ‘Come down to 201 for x-amount of dollars,’ maybe, let’s think about it. But as an amateur, no.”

Friday Night’s Fight
Latimore’s looming opponent, Trey Lippe Morrison, is not only the son of well-known heavyweight Tommy Morrison, but has a famous trainer in Freddie Roach. The fight will take place in Miami, Oklahoma, in Morrison’s backyard. Like Latimore, he too has an undefeated record: 11-0 (11 KOs).

I asked Ed if he has any concerns about how these factors could play into the scorecards, if the fight lasts that long (a big “if”—these fighters have obvious punching power, judging by their knockout percentages). “I have just gotten better and that’s all I can do, is continue to improve and keep getting better. That’s all I can do. I don’t want to focus on a specific technique because I don’t know what he can do or what he’s capable of, because even though there’s tape out there, the opponents were not of a caliber that would reveal exactly what he knows. Plus they didn’t go very long anyway. So we don’t know what he’s going to do. As far as the location and how that might affect the judges’ outcome, yeah, that’s always a thing, but all I can worry about is what I can control, and that’s going out and putting on an incredible fight and hopefully getting the stoppage so we don’t have to cross that bridge. That’s the sport we’re engaged in. These things happen. That’s just part of the whole deal. I just have control of me. I can’t worry about anything else.

“I’m excited, I’m looking forward to fighting. This is just another test. I’ve got to stay calm and stay focused on the execution. Even though this is on television, this is still only my 14th fight. So a win here doesn’t say, ‘Oh, man, I’m gonna retire.’ I think as long as I remember I’m just fighting again, it’s the same thing I’ve done almost 70 other times in my life, then I’ll be A-OK.”

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  1. Eric 03:31pm, 09/22/2016

    Ouch. Not going to touch that. I think poor Tommy died still denying he had contracted the HIV virus. It really took its toll on Tommy, he was nearly unrecognizable in the last photo I saw of him. RIP Mr. Morrison.

  2. The Thresher 03:02pm, 09/22/2016

    Well, they sure didn’t give him what killed him.

  3. Eric 02:50pm, 09/22/2016

    Tommy Morrison must have been an animal lover. A prefight clip of Morrison before the Lewis fight, showed Tommy at home with a pet leopard, 2 cougars, and a monkey. Don’t think wild animals make great pets, I’ll stick with the domestic kind. What is it with fighters and big cats? Foreman, Tyson, Floyd, Morrison, Battling Siki, Roberto Duran, etc.? Morrison’s pet cougars and leopard looked fully grown, don’t know if Foreman, Tyson, or Duran kept their critters until they had reached maturity, but I kind of doubt it.

  4. The Thresher 12:24pm, 09/22/2016

    Those who do harm to animals can expect severe pain and punishment.

  5. Eric 07:33am, 09/22/2016

    Tigers have to be one of the most beautiful of God’s creatures. You have to wonder why anyone would want to kill such a magnificent animal. I see the Soros funded Walking Dead were once again putting on a fine display last night in Charlotte.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:31am, 09/22/2016

    The government of Maharastra, a state in western India has decreed that injuring or killing tiger poachers will no longer be considered a crime. The same should hold for the human poaching Walking Dead abroad in this land.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:19am, 09/22/2016

    Eric-Tommy KOs half of the fighters on that list and I don’t think that he even got Honorable Mention. Picture in your mind Tommy hitting some of those ATGs the way he clobbered Razor Ruddock.

  8. Eric 05:50am, 09/22/2016

    And Morrison didn’t make the list of top all time 100 heavyweights on boxing.com. hehe. Look at some of the fighters that made that list and imagine them in the ring with Tommy.

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:34am, 09/22/2016

    Their Pro resumes are like mirror images but amateur experience favors Latimore. Trey Lippe may hit hard but Tommy Morrison hit really hard, every bit as hard as Tyson. Tommy never got the credit for whipping George Foreman’s ass that he deserved, George Friggin’ Foreman for Christ’s sake, it’s as if that fight never happened. RIP Tommy.

  10. Eric 06:39pm, 09/21/2016

    The modern era, where a 6’1” 220-225lb fighter is considered undersized. Doesn’t seem that long ago when this was the normal size heavyweight. Matter of fact, that is about the size of the late Tommy Morrison. I’m thinking Morrison was really closer to 6’1” than his listed height of 6’2”. Had no idea that Morrison had a son who was an active fighter. Have to take a look at the younger Morrison. Wonder how many beaches are located in Miami, Oklahoma. I’m with Mr. Latimore about the Atkins/Keto aka low-carb diet, it taint fun, but it definitely works. Always had tons of energy and felt great on the Atkins diet, and the lard just falls off you. Gotz to get back on it.

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