TSU Alum Tops Kickboxing Sport, Brings Fight to Alma Mater

By Michael McLendon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU Alum Omari Boyd will showcase his world-class kickboxing skills on Saturday, September 30, in Kean Hall at Tennessee State University, as he along with other members of the American K-1 National Team take on the Canadian K-1 National Team.

Boyd, who became the first American kickboxer in history to receive a medal at the World Games in Poland in 2017, says he got his start as a competitive kickboxer at TSU.

“I met Kevin Walker, and he was doing a beginners mixed martial arts class at the school in the wellness center,” Boyd said. “While taking the class he saw that I had potential. We knew some of the same people, and he offered me my first fight in 2009.”

Since that time, Boyd has progressed to a 70-4 record as a kickboxer, obtaining at least one title belt in every major organization in the United States.

“What’s unique about Omari is his discipline, and he has an indomitable will,” said Walker, who trains athletes to compete for Team USA. “When you combine that with his humility, that’s really hard to find anywhere else.”

Walker, who started his mixed martial arts fitness program at the Ralph H. Boston Wellness Center in 2009, took two other TSU students to the world championships in MMA in 2016. He said Boyd’s experience as a competitive athlete in karate and swimming, and his love for learning, made transitioning to competitive kickboxing a natural fit.

“He did very good his first time out, and from that point I just asked him what he wanted from it.   He just looked me in my eyes and said, ‘I want to be the best in the world?’ Once he said that, I said, ‘Okay. Let’s do it. Let’s do those things to make sure you are the best in the world.’”

Victorious in eight different countries, Boyd has managed to perform at an elite level as a kickboxing champion while maintaining a full-time job as a civil structural engineer with the Thomas and Betts Corporation in Memphis, Tennessee. He credits hard work and dedication as being keys to his success.

“Once I set my mind to something, I just want to be the best at it—hands down,” Boyd said. “Wherever it takes me, it takes me. Wherever being the best leads, I’m going.”

Boyd, who secured a B.S. in architectural engineering from TSU in 2008 and an M.S. in civil engineering from TSU in 2011, credits his family with motivating and inspiring him.

“My dad and my mom, they both put me in karate at a young age. They motivated me to excel in that, and the same thing with swimming,” he said. “I just have younger brothers and sisters. They kind of look up to me so I just tread lightly on things I do because I know there are a lot of eyes on me.”

His mother, Agnes Boyd, who currently serves as Instructor of Sports and Fitness in the TSU Department of Human Performance and Health Sciences, said she always taught her son to be positive.

“I always told my children you can be and do anything you say you want to do. Never say, ‘Shoulda’ woulda’ coulda.’ You just do it. If you fail, that doesn’t mean you failed. You tried it,” she said. “He told me, ‘Mama, I want an Olympic uniform.‘ That’s what my son said before he got on the team.”

Walker said the fight on September 30 extends and expands the historic legacy for international and Olympic sports at Tennessee State University. He hopes it will be a launching pad to open and extend the course offerings and recreational intramural offerings at TSU to get more diverse students and generate funds for the university, as well as increase TSU’s international exposure.

“This particular event marks an opportunity for Tennessee State to be an epicenter and an origin that will bring national and international attention to not only the university, but the city of Nashville as we grow in our exposure and our appeal on a global scale.,” he said.

For Boyd, the fight simply represents an opportunity to do what he loves before a hometown crowd.

“Man, ya’ll come through TSU September 30th and represent,” he said with enthusiasm. “It’s been a long time since I fought at home. “

To learn more about the event, visit wakousa.org.


Department of Media Relations

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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.