HUDSON — Former kickboxing world champion Ed ‘Black Rage’ Burris will have a familiar face to local fight fans in his corner when he returns to the ring after a two-year hiatus tonight in Liverpool.
Hudson boxing trainer Todd Smith, of the Anasta Boxing Club, has been working with the four-time champion and will be a part of his corner for tonight’s bout.
Burris, who at one point in his career had a record of 61-0 with 60 knockouts, met Smith about a year ago at Berkshire Farm where they both work. The two clicked immediately and Burris, now 46, says Smith is a major reason why he decided to return to the sport he once dominated.
“We were on opposite sides of the ring — I’m a kickboxer and he’s a boxer — but we still have the same love for competition and for fighting, so we became close and we clicked,” Burris said. “There will be times I’ll call him up with a question about something and he’ll give me some information. It just tells you at 46 I’m not too old to learn. My cup is always empty, and every time it gets filled up I just empty it into a big pitcher and get it filled up again. He has a lot of knowledge and a lot of understanding and he understands it just like I do. It’s like we’re two peas in one big pod.”
Smith has exclusively trained boxers in the past, but is excited to work with a kickboxer, especially one with Burris’ credentials.
“He’s performed at the highest level,” Smith said. “To me, I’m in awe. This is my first time going in the ring with kickboxing. He’s a big guy so he can punch, he’s strong. I think I enhance his boxing skills, it’s like he was sent to me. His boxing skills are unbelievable, he’s very powerful.
“We’ve worked together for about a year now and we just clicked. He invited me to his wedding last December. It’s a privilege to be working with him. This guy came into my life and invited me into his. He supports me and I support him. It’s a great friendship, a win-win situation.”
Despite being out of the game the past two years, Burris said he’s very confident heading into tonight’s fight and has never felt better.
“I feel great, especially since I met Todd,” Burris said. “We started working together and working with his guys and it’s brought back the fighting spark in my heart. He’s been helping me a lot in getting me prepared for this fight along with my Syracuse team. I go home to Syracuse and work with Jim Andrello on my kickboxing and then I come to Hudson and work with Todd on my boxing. I have two coaches in my corner.
“I’m a fighter by nature, not from a physical level, but a mental level and if you’re a fighter by mental, it becomes physical and I just love the competition. I love the drive of it and I just love to be in the ring competing.”
Burris, who has competed around the world and once fought in Chuck Norris’ World Combat League, understands their will be doubters because of his age, but he doesn’t let that stand in his way.
“I’m 46 and of course you have the naysayers out there saying ‘oh, you’re 46, you’re still fighting, you’re too old,’” Burris said. “Then you have people out there telling you that you can do it. It’s really 50-50. I took some time off before, so this is a similar situation and I’m not going to let anyone, negative or positive, predict the outcome of my fight or who I am. I’m just going to go out and do my job and definitely try to come out the victor.”
Smith is amazed by Burris’ conditioning and feels age will be just a number when he steps into the ring tonight.
“It’s a different thing with him,” Smith said. “He’s 46, but he hasn’t fought in awhile and his body hasn’t been beaten up. He’s an avid worker, a machine in the gym. He works out all the time. He takes care of his body. He eats healthy and drinks healthy all the time. I try to pick up his habits. Martial arts is all about focus and meditation and calmness. That’s who he is.”
Regardless of tonight’s outcome, Burris has a message for anyone who lets their age hold them back.
“Don’t ever believe what people tell you about your age, that you can never compete and go to a higher level with young people,” Burris said. “It’s not the physical part, it’s the mental part. If you let your mind defeat what your body is telling you, that you know that you can do it, do it. A strong mind makes a strong body. As long as you don’t abuse your body at an early age, you can still do what you could do when you were 20, and I’m going to prove that on Saturday.”