Former Linebacker Turned Boxer Gets Win in First Fight at Home
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
For at least 10 seconds after the final bell, Brandon Denmark and Robert Arnold were still exchanging punches. The three-round amateur heavyweight fight was that heated.
“It was definitely the heat of the moment for me,” Denmark said. “Being in the ring kind of reminds me of being in the trenches so I didn’t stop. I didn’t hear the bell. He swung and I swung, too.”
In the end, Denmark was awarded a unanimous decision to improve his record to four wins and two losses. It gave the host team, Lincoln Neighborhood Boxing Club, its second victory on the way to a 3-3 finish in six of the 14 bouts held this past Saturday night at the National Guard Armory.
For Denmark, a former linebacker on Florida A&M’s football team, it was his first time fighting at home in a 14-month career.
Boxing wasn’t the future that Denmark envisioned after he played his final season in 2013. He was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent and invited to a mini-camp. He missed the first cut and found himself pondering his next move.
It came to him while staring through the plane window on a flight back to Tallahassee from Seattle. He thought about how he was told by the Seahawks he was too small, despite being 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds.
Confusion consumed him about his future.
“I said, ‘What else can I do. What else am I good at?’ ” He asked himself.
Then, the answer began to come, as he thought of his grandfather Tim Ford, a former boxer during the 1960s.
“I’ve always had that fighting spirit,” Denmark said, explaining his decision. “I’m thankful I’m still active as an athlete.”
And, boy was he active in his bout against Arnold. Denmark threw every punch with authority. He missed some, but landed more to keep Arnold backing up.
Early in the second round, Denmark was clipped with a straight right that prompted the referee to issue a standing eight-count on the Tallahassee boxer. He retaliated with a series of lefts and rights that backed Arnold into the ropes. That was enough for the referee to give him an eight-count.
Early in the third and final round, Arnold was deducted a point for an illegal punch. Denmark seemed to have control of the ensuring action, before again taking another eight-count.
But he left no doubt about the outcome with one final onslaught of combination punches.
“It was a pretty good fight, although he got a little wild sometimes,” said Denmark’s grandfather, who was at ringside. “I like what he is doing but I would like to train him and show him some combinations. I would like for him to get to where he doesn’t get tired.”
But Ford, who fought out of Jacksonville and now lives in Monticello, believes his grandson has a bright future in boxing.
“I think he could go a long ways,” he said.
Denmark seems to be set to do just that.
“It’s in front of me and I’ve got to take what’s in front of me,” he said. “My granddad used to box back in the day and they tell me I have the heavyweight frame. Hopefully I’ll find the right camp and find the right trainer.”