Two years ago, Tyrrell Herndon took off his football helmet for the final time after playing his final game for the Richmond Revolution of the Indoor Football League.
But since 2011 he’s been taking shots to the head as an amateur boxer, and as soon as enters the professional ranks, his head gear will come off.
For him the adrenaline of competition and rush of performing in front of the crowd has turned this former defensive end into an aspiring world super heavyweight boxing champion.
“I just like contact,” Herndon said. “I like to please the crowd and get them what they want to see.”
Herndon is now training at the ChampionFit Gym located in San Antonio. It is a facility founded in 2005 by two-time world champion Jesse James Leija.
The 26-year-old former Copperas Cove defensive end took up boxing in 2011 and has since accumulated an 11-4 amateur record and won the South Texas Amateur Boxing Association’s Senior Open Male 201+ championship last month by winning both of his bouts.
Herndon is currently training for the 2014 Regional Golden Gloves competition that will be held in the Alamo City next month.
The former Copperas Cove lineman recently moved to San Antonio to train at ChampionFit, so he can work his way up the professional ranks.
Herndon, like many fighters, has his sights set on Sin City and said his dream venue to fight is the MGM Grand. But those dreams and the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas don’t detract from his main objective.
“I’m not in it to just be average or make money,” Herndon said. “A lot of people get into it to make money, and of course you want to do that, but I’m in it to become great and be a household name.”
Herndon always was interested in the sweet science, but he had the trouble of growing up in a state where football is the undisputed champion of sports.
Herndon played collegiately at Kilgore Junior College and Texas A&M-Kingsville before moving on to play for the Billings Outlaws and Revolution during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
He began his amateur boxing career in 2011 and, for him, the intensity of getting in the ring is bigger than that of putting on the football pads because of boxing’s individual nature.
“The adrenaline is double,” Herndon said. “When I was on a football field, you’re going to go out in front of all the fans and they might be looking at you, but they might be looking at (No.) 54, 25, it’s a whole bunch of places that they’re looking. When you’re walking into the ring they’re looking at you and you only. There is no team to take the focus off you.”
It was during his arena days that a friend suggested he take up boxing and Herndon gave it a shot.
Herndon said that his favorite fighter growing up was Mike Tyson and he studies footage of “Iron Mike” and some of the other all-time great fighters along with current boxers.
“I want to know what the greats did so I can learn from them and learn the little moves that they did,” Herndon said.
Like many boxers, Herndon has a dream of being a world champion just like Tyson was.
Only he prefers to stay at the super heavyweight division rather than move down to the heavyweight class.
Before that can happen, Herndon knows there are more hours in the gym, reps on the punching bag and miles ahead. Although the former football player turned boxer finished his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology at A&M-Kingsville and could easily begin a career in that field, he’s not for taking that route just yet.
Especially when there are more punches, more blood, more sweat and more tears ahead.
“I just have that athletic itch,” Herndon said. “When you have something in you, this passion to be great, listen to it and just go with it. I can’t see myself doing anything else and I know it’ll pay off in the long run.”