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Former Basketball: Price changes career focus to boxing

Former NISH, UL star prefers challenge of individual sports


When Kelvin Price finished his basketball eligibility at Charlotte in 1999, he played a few years of professional basketball.

His travels took him from Australia to the Phillipines to Venezuela to Huntsville, Ala. When the former New Iberia Senior High and UL standout decided to hang up his sneakers, Price elected to go to four more years of schooling.

 

Only it wasn’t going back to the classrooms at UL or Charlotte. Instead, he went to boxing school in Florida with Roy Jones Sr. as his instructor.

Last Saturday was Price’s first chance to show what he had learned in four years of training. It only lasted three minutes, and he didn’t get a chance to show of all his skills.

But when Mississippi’s Johnny White couldn’t answer the bell for the second round, it was a gratifying first step in the right direction for Price.

"The feeling was great,” said Price, who was fighting on the Roy Jones Jr. pay-per-view undercard. "It had been five years since I had been in front of a crowd. It was fun again with people talking to me and taking pictures and signing autographs after the fight. I didn’t show even a fraction of what I could do, but it was a good start.”

It was also an affirming development for Price. Frustrated with basketball, Price had met Roy Jones Jr. during their days as opponents in the NBA’s USBL development league. The boxing megastar encouraged Price to give boxing a chance.

After all, Price was loaded with athletic ability, had long arms and unusual agility for his 6-foot-7 frame.

This is the same athlete that set a New Iberia school record in the triple jump back in 1994 and also ran the 400 and mile relay.

"I had hit a bag a few times, but never competed before,” said Price, who had gotten to 265 pounds before fighting at 252 last Saturday. "I just fell in love with it. I love it for the same reason I loved track. It’s you. There are no teammates. There’s no one to point the finger at. In basketball, there’s so many things that can go wrong. When I was at UL (before transferring to Charlotte), that was the most talented team I ever played on, but we never could come together as a team.”

In boxing, the only team that has to come together is between the boxer and the trainer. In Price’s case, that’s Roy Jones Sr.

Initially, Price dabbled in the sport while still in Charlotte, but didn’t like the way he was being rushed there.

"In Charlotte, they didn’t teach me anything,” he said. "They just wanted me to go out and right the next week.”

So he hooked up with Jones Sr. in Florida and began four years of training. With support from his family and friends, Price trained twice a day nearly every day for four years.

He only had one amateur fight during that time prior to his pro debut last Saturday.

"It was like I went from kindergarten to the 12th grade then to college and graduate school all in four years,” Price said. "I had to get used to getting hit and learn everything else there was to learn about boxing. I wanted to be ready when I went into the ring. If I was going to do this, I wanted to do it to the fullest.”

Price’s progress has certainly impressed his trainer.

"He’s made remarkable progress,” Jones Sr. said. "I tried to scare him off, but he’s got an incredible work ethic. He’s very agile and he’s intelligent. He’s definitely got the size and reach. His ability to adjust to everything I tell him has really impressed me. Plus, he has that willingness to suffer a little bit. Everybody can dish it out, but can you take it?”

The plan is that Price’s next fight will be Aug. 25 again in Mississippi.

"We’re just trying to get him experience,” Jones Sr. "If you don’t get experience, you can’t develop credibility.”

The future remains unknown, but Price and Jones are thinking big.

"I hope to be the best,” Price said. "I’m not sloppy like most heavyweights are. I’m young in the sport. I’m not all cut up and beat up.”

"I’m counting on him being the heavyweight champion of the world,” Jones Sr. said.

Kelvin Price file

 

 

  • Standout performer in basketball and track and field at New Iberia Senior High; 1994 graduate.

     

  • Signed with UL in basketball before transferring to Charlotte in 1996, where he finished in 1999.

     

  • Played professional basketball overseas in Australia, Phillipines, Venezuela, as well as in the CBA and the USBL; Made his professional boxing debut with a win last Saturday in Biloxi, Miss.
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