Having a nickname isn’t mandatory when you sign up to be an MMA fighter, but it sure does help express one’s identity better. There are several UFC athletes who have lived up to their nicknames. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor is the one who comes to mind instantaneously. Another such fighter is the UK’s very own Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards.
Being born in Kingston, Jamaica, and having moved to Birmingham, England at the mere age of nine came with a hefty price to Leon. As if poverty wasn’t enough to have struck the Edwards family, more unfortunate circumstances followed to hover over their lives.
By the time he turned 13, the Jamaican-born lost his father in a shooting incident, an event that went on to scar him for years to come. Right after his father’s unfortunate demise, Leon went down a deep and negative spiral. He joined hands with gang culture and criminal activities, leading to robberies and fights. It wouldn’t stop there, ‘Rocky’ went on to get arrested multiple times for knife crimes and street fights.
What is the meaning behind Leon Edwards’ nickname?
The 31-year-old originally earned his nickname from his friends in school. However, fight fans have always wondered about the reason and the story behind it. In a deeply personal letter penned to ESPN by Leon himself, he stated how his youth days and the loss of his father impacted him and his decisions.
Speaking about Aston, the place he moved to in Birmingham, the welterweight champion shares, “It was in a constant gang war. There was the Johnson Crew and the Burger Bar Boys. They were rivals, and violence constantly broke out between both sides. I fell in with the younger kids. I didn’t plan to get into a gang. It’s just what you did. It was a means of survival. People don’t understand that your options are limited when you don’t know any better.”
His father’s demise didn’t make anything easier for him, in his words, it “f**ked” him up. He further elaborates, “It pushed me more into gang life and crime, toward the negative. My mid-teens were my darkest years. My crew was involved with fights, robberies, and stabbings. We sold some drugs. We smoked weed and drank, a bit.”
Leon states that it was mostly fighting that got him into all sorts of troubles during his teen years. He fought for multiple reasons; sometimes to defend his friends and other times just to intimidate his rival gang members. “Squashing beefs” never seemed to appear as an option in a world where everyone sorted matters by ‘throwing down.’
“That’s why my nickname is ‘Rocky’. I got that from school. That’s before I got into MMA. I got it just from scrapping in the streets.” insinuating that it is based on Rocky Balboa, the famous fictional character portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, who goes through hardships and sorrows in life, only to find victory and joy in the end.
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