Former St. John's Jesuit and University of Toledo running back DeAndre Ware expected to finally turn pro back in December.
Not as a football player, but as a professional boxer.
The former Rockets standout took an interest in boxing nearly five years ago as a form of rehabilitation following a knee injury suffered at UT.
The boxing ring eventually became Ware's newest playground to showcase his athletic talents and allow him to remain a competitor long after his days of wearing football pads and a helmet.
"I grew up always wanting to be the best and I still want to be the best," Ware said. "I still feel like I've got a lot to prove.
"I'm not done."
It's more like a new beginning for Ware, who will compete on April 5 in a Toledo Golden Gloves title bout taking place at the Believe Center, located near the intersection of the Anthony Wayne Trail and South Avenue.
Ware will look to defend his 2013 Toledo Golden Gloves 165-pound championship during a night of approximately 20 bouts at the nonprofit center. About 20 semifinal bouts are expected to take place at 7 p.m. today at the Believe Center.
Ware, who was 3-1 in bouts during 2013, has fought more than 70 amateur bouts during his career. He was scheduled to fight his first pro bout in December but the show was cancelled. The delay to turn pro led to Ware changing his focus back to trying to win a Golden Gloves national championship.
Toledo Golden Gloves board member and Toledo Police Athletic League director Brandi Berends anticipates a good boxing show each night with roster spots on the line for the Toledo Golden Gloves national team heading to the Las Vegas nationals this summer.
"There will be a lot of newer guys to the national team, so it'll be a pretty new team," Berends said. "They'll all be pretty motivated [to fight]."
Ware is clearly a man not lacking in the motivation department. He's in the gym nearly twice a day, training with weights and on cardiovascular machines in a local gym in the mornings and in the evenings he is sparring and hitting the bags at a boxing gym in Monroe.
That's only his daily schedule.
His nightly schedule for nearly a month has been working as a Toledo firefighter.
He was a member of the Toledo Fire Department's recent graduating class.
"I always wanted to be one [a firefighter] when I was a kid, but once I started playing sports it kind of left me," Ware said. "When the opportunity came back to do it, I took it.
"By the grace of God I got it."
The 26-year-old said he has been told by some to hang up the boxing gloves and focus on being a firefighter. He believes there's room for both in his life.
"People say I should stop boxing because I've got a career, well, that's not how I grew up and that's not how I feel," Ware said. "I feel like that's what I want to do, I want to box and I'm going to keep doing it."
A three-time Golden Gloves national tournament participant, Ware finished third in the 165-pound weight division at last year's Golden Gloves nationals, which is his best showing.
With two careers keeping him quite busy, Ware may be as motivated and focused as he's ever been in his life.
"There's not one day that I get up not wanting to go to the fire department and not a day that I don't want to go to the gym," he said. "It's the best of both worlds."
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