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Kendall Holt reflects on boxing career, new endeavors

Former WBO junior welterweight champion Kendall Holt has shared the ring with an abundance of elite-level competition, including former two-division champions Timothy Bradley and Danny Garcia, former titilists Lamont Peterson, Ricardo Torres, David Diaz, and many other talented foes. But at 38 years of age and seven years removed from his last fight, Holt has turned his attention away from boxing for the time being.

After losing his last professional fight to Lamont Peterson in 2013, Holt decided to pursue higher education and study dialysis treatment. In fact, he was recently hired at a local hospital, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary halt on that process.

“I’m in the medical field, so I would go to different businesses and I would draw people’s blood and help them with their medical insurance,” Holt explained in an interview with ESBR. “So I would go there, check their cholesterol and glucose levels, give them information and education about cholesterol and how it affects the body, and recommend different things that they can do to improve it.”

Holt’s current endeavor is quite a far cry from his previous profession, in which he was fighting at a world championship level. While he was unable to beat fighters like Tim Bradley and Danny Garcia, he gave them solid fights, which is significant given the level of success that both Garcia and Bradley have achieved in the years that followed.

“Those guys are the best [that I’ve faced] because of what they were able to do after their fight with me,” Holt said. “I mean look at Tim Bradley, his career just kept going up and up and up. Danny Garcia, his career exploded as well, so those guys proved that they are the best of the best.”

In his junior welterweight title unification bout with Bradley in 2009, he dropped Bradley hard with a left hook in the first round and had him momentarily hurt. But out of all of the stellar names on Holt’s resume, one stands out as his biggest accomplishment: his title-winning effort and knockout against Ricardo Torres of Colombia in 2008.

Torres dropped Holt twice in the first round and had him in trouble. “I remember looking at Mike Tyson [in the crowd] and getting hit and going down,” says Holt. But seconds afterward, he came back to knock Torres cold with a right hand and win the title in what might be one of the wildest first round knockouts in boxing history.

“Man, that guy can punch,” Holt said as he recalled the action from that night. “People still post that fight ‘til this day, they tag me, and it gets thousands and thousands of likes and comments on social media. So today that fight still excites people. But for me, when I sit down and watch it again I still get chills.”

Photo by Ed Mulholland/USA Today

While he put Torres out with a right hand, Holt is primarily known for his devastating left hook. Because of an injury to his right shoulder, Holt had to rely on his left to do most of the damage.

“After I beat David Diaz, I started having shoulder problems,” says Holt. “I started getting shoulder pains all the time and I had calcium deposits. So around that same time I had to get injections [for shoulder pain] and my left hook took on a mind of its own. I had to start working overtime [with the left] because of the lack of production from my right hand.”

One fighter that Holt would have liked to add to his record is former two-division champion Zab “Super” Judah. In the early 200’s when Holt was just beginning his professional career, Judah was someone that he looked up to as a role model for young African-American fighters like himself. He even remembered being “starstruck” meeting Judah at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York.

“When I was a four-round fighter, I always felt that for me to make a name in this sport and for me to be somebody, I would have to fight with Zab Judah,” Holt said. “Growing up, Zab Judah was everything all the young black fighters wanted to be. He was world champion, he hit hard, had a bunch of highlights, hung around with all the best rappers, always in the limelight.”

In the aftermath of his last professional bout against Lamont Peterson, Holt intended to compete again, but promotion and management issues, along with juggling his college education, prompted an extended hiatus from the sport. For now, he is noncommittal on a possible return, and is currently occupied with starting his own boxing glove apparel business.

“I just started my own boxing glove line, Holt Boxing,” Holt said. “Those gloves are gonna launch June 17 and if anybody wants to check them out and see what they look like, they can go to @holt.boxing on Instagram.”

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