The UK’s very own Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards has now become a name bigger than before, and the credit doesn’t go just to him attaining the UFC gold. Being labeled as one of the unluckiest fighters of his time, this wasn’t the first time Leon was an underdog. The welterweight champion has paid his fair dues to reach where he is now.
However, it didn’t take Leon to be a champion before he could give back to the community. Knife crimes have been rising at an alarming rate in his hometown of Birmingham. Thus, the UFC has partnered with the charity Onside Legacy Youth Zone. However, joining Leon are two more MMA fighters namely Darren Till and Jimi Manuwa. This program will help kids aged 12-16 in London, Birmingham, and Liverpool.
Upon asking how this whole thing came together, Leon opens up, “Jimi and I spoke and we came from similar backgrounds, In the U.K., there’s a big knife pandemic, loads of kids getting stabbed. And I came from the same background and he came to me and said we should do something. […] This is very close to me. I’ve lost a friend last year on Father’s Day. He got stabbed in his neck on Father’s Day”
“They [the kids] can say, look Leon did it. It’s a trickle-down effect that’s helping the kids,” he shares.
While this is a brilliant move by Leon and the UFC team, it is noteworthy that the promotion has donated about $50,000 to help with the equipment purchase and coaching fees. While personally teaching them self-defense, the welterweight champion is hoping this will help kids stay off the streets.
How did Leon Edwards lose his father and the impact it had on his childhood?
At the ripe age of nine, Leon moved to Birmingham, England, a place he has been calling home ever since. But the move from Jamaica to England came with a cost. However, by the time he turned thirteen, his life took a very unexpected and unfortunate turn.
Being referred to as ‘The General’, his father was heavily involved in the shady side of life. Leon’s father got shot in a nightclub over a money dispute. While recalling the horrific night, Leon shares, “It was probably like 2 am. I was in my room. Mum was in hers. We hear the phone ringing. I heard her crying, and I knew from then something bad, you know. Eventually, she came into my room and just told me this, your dad’s just got killed in London.”
Even though this seems to be the darkest part of his life, what was waiting to happen was worse. The loss of his father threw Leon down a deep spiral hole. He went on to invite himself into gang life. His ‘crew’ would involve themselves in fights and robberies. They would also sell drugs. However, he has only been arrested for knife crimes and street fights.
Good thing the only lady in his life was always by his side, his mother. By the time Edwards turned 16, she persuaded him to join an MMA gym, something for which she worked two jobs to pay the fees. While Leon’s story keeps inspiring the youth in his hometown, the 31-year-old never stops giving back to the community.
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