Ravens safety boxing as pro, hires top trainer

NFL football star Tommy Zbikowski who plays for the Ravens, knocks out Richard Bryant to win their Heavyweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on March 12, 2011.

Last week, Chad Ochocinco declared that during the NFL lockout he would try out with an MLS team, fulfilling a childhood "dream" of playing pro soccer. Many dismissed the announcement as a PR stunt.

But another NFL player - Ravens safety Tommy Zbikowski - seems to be very serious about pursuing - and dominating - another sport: boxing.

According to SI.com, Zbikowski has hired legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward, who has worked with dozens of champions, including current heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko. Steward will be in Zbikowski's corner when he fights in Atlantic City on Saturday night.

Zbikowski is already 2-0 as a pro and earlier this month he knocked out Richard Bryant in the first round on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga title fight in Las Vegas.

"He has such beautiful balance," Steward told SI.com. "He has a great natural rhythm and he's always in position when he is punching. He doesn't box like a football player. He boxes like a boxer."

Zbikowski's transition from hitting halfbacks to heavyweights is not as much of a reach as one might expect. That's because the former Notre Dame standout starred as an amateur boxing, going 75-15, according to ESPN.

Zbikowski turned pro before his senior season at South Bend but decided to postpone his boxing career when he realized he would be picked high in the NFL draft (Baltimore picked him in the third round in 2008.)

Now, with the NFL season in doubt, Zbikowski is back in the ring and has a Hall of Fame trainer in his corner.

"He told me boxing was his first love," Steward told SI.com. "I don't know where this is going to go right now but he seems committed to it."

But is Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti upset that one of his players is risking injury by trading jabs and body blows in the boxing ring? Apparently not.

"I think it's awesome," Bisciotti told The Baltimore Sun. "I wanted to walk him into the ring but I'm not allowed to communicate with him. I would get the Don King hair going."

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com


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