Champion kickboxer and Nashville native Omari Boyd may be just what the sport needs to take off in the U.S. — at least that’s what some of his fans say.
At a gym in North Nashville, Boyd was getting ready for a big fight the next day against Team Canada.
“This dude finna get flatlined," Boyd says with a laugh.
Boyd oozes confidence. He’s wearing a shirt with his own name on it, followed by his personal monicker, “The Bodysnatcher.” The nickname comes from the way he takes down his opponents.
“Man, most of my knockouts come from body shots," Boyd says. "I like killin’ the body.”
In the ring, he’s relentless — launching volleys of hooks and kicks at his opponent’s torso. And more often than not, he sends his opponents hurtling to the floor, fast. His record is 70-4.
Boyd’s fighting looks energetic, violent even — but he disagrees. “Aggressive but intelligent” is what he calls it. He even compares some of his fights to chess matches.
"I try to be aggressive, yes," Boyd says. "But... it’s just an aggressive sense of I’m here, I’m not goin’ nowhere, and I’m here to push you to your limit.”
The strategy-first approach is no surprise. Boyd has a master’s degree from Tennessee State University and works for a parts manufacturer in Memphis.
“Civil engineer by day… butt-kicker by night," Boyd jokes.
The duality of his roles isn’t easy. But Boyd is pretty sure that some day, he'll make enough money fighting that kickboxing will be his full-time gig.
Still, for someone whose professional career is just taking off, he seems to have some hardcore fans. His friend and manager, Bryan Telluric, flew all the way from Denmark for the Team Canada match in Nashville.
“He’s so good I want to travel just to see him fight. In his weight division he is the best, and he is going to prove it also,” Telluric says.
To a few, Boyd isn’t just the best. Some think he might be the catalyst for an American kickboxing revolution. Apparently, there’s even been talk of Team USA moving their operations to Nashville for Boyd’s sake.
Kevin Walker, a coach for Team USA and the owner of Bonafyde MMA in North Nashville, explains that kickboxing is still relatively unpopular in the U.S. because there’s no true professional circuit.
“We have some great talent here, but you never see them," Walker says. "And by the time they get good enough to compete, because there’s not an outlet, and there’s no exposure and support, they go overseas.”
But Walker says that Boyd is proof of the talent here at home. Back in July, Boyd became the first American to medal in kickboxing at the World Games.
Boyd may need many more knockouts to change the way Americans see kickboxing. But as for that Team Canada fight he was preparing for, his opponent hit the mat a minute and fifteen seconds into the first round.
See Boyd fight in the video below: