Sheppard hanging up gloves

Following more than 100 professional bouts, promoter Mike Sheppard officially has decided to hang things up and retire as a fighter.

“I’m just not going to compete anymore. I’m 43 and I’m tired,” admitted Sheppard, who noted his 40th show will take place on Saturday, July 28 at the The Gough Hazard off Core Road.

“I don’t have any kickboxing fights right now, but I’ve got about 20 fights. Everybody is wanting to fight.”

Sheppard, still a teacher at Wirt County High School where he won a pair of state mat crowns, was a four-time world kickboxing champion and fought James Toney for the World Boxing Foundation heavyweight title.

“Even those, like that, something good is going to come out if it,” Sheppard said of not regretting his setbacks. “I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything, even the losses. I’m just a little bit old. I came out of 104 fights, professional, and I can still walk and talk and function.

“That’s part of growth and that’s what I tell people, especially when you are amateurs. When you lose, you are going to work a little harder and fix things. That was me, always. I stayed positive and I lost a lot. I’d like to make more money. Making that quick money was nice three or four times a year.”

Although nowhere ready to retire as a teacher, promoter or instructor at his Dawghouse Gym here in town, Sheppard is always willing to give back to those who seek it out.

Of course, times are different now it seems with today’s youth, something not lost on Sheppard.

“I’m in to combat sports,” he added. “I love it. I know a lot about it. I experienced a lot and I’m here to teach people, to teach the young people. But lately, it’s funny. It’s not funny, but it’s kind of sad. A lot of guys who can really do it, it’s hard to keep them in the gym.

“I don’t know. They’ve got other things to do. I try to tell them, you do what I say and you’ll do better than I did, make more money and see more. But they don’t want to grind it out. I think it’s fun. It must be a little more work than most people want to do. I always thought it was fun.”

When he told me that, the first thing which came to mind was whether or not wrestling practices with coach Matt Ashley were fun when he was a Tiger.

“No. That was not fun. I was sick of wrestling when I graduated,” said the Glenville State College grad.

Now, into his 11th year as a promoter, Sheppard is just going to keep on going.

“I just did what was fun and what I liked and it turned into that,” he said. “I got to go all over the world, make some extra money and experience things people only dream about. The young people have a heckuva opportunity around them right here if they want to be in combative sports.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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