Boxing coach Mike Stafford passes away

Summarizing someone’s life into a few paragraphs is never fun. It is even less fun when it is so shocking and unexpected.

Legendary boxing coach, Mike Stafford, best known for his work in the last decade with Adrien Broner, Robert Easter Jr., and Rau’shee Warren, has passed away.

While many coaches got acclaim, Stafford was a figure who played the background, building fighters up from scratch, despite having a flashy fighter in Broner, Stafford never clamored for stardom. Stafford was well known for working with fighters since they were a youth, or as some would say 'from the ground-up'.

During the last decade, Stafford emerged as one of the premier coaches in the sport along with vibrant new faces such as Virgil Hunter, Barry Hunter, and Kevin Cunningham looking to be the new faces of boxing as we started into this new era of boxing. The four seemed to be the ambassadors of a new era of boxing who had put a lifetime into the sport, and all came to fame at the same time. 

Hunter would always take to public platforms and explain as well as chastise the media stating Stafford never got enough credit as Stafford had brought up Warren to become a three-time U.S. Olympian, and raised multiple world champions from the ground up including Adrien Broner and Robert Easter Jr..

Mike Stafford's legacy as a boxing coach though isn’t about the world champions he developed, but also his enduring commitment to his community and the sport of boxing. Stafford helped keep young people off the street, he took pride in working with fighters who trained hard.

As he first took his son, Mike Stafford Jr., to the gym to save him from the perils of street fighting it seemed that the elder Stafford saw his son in a lot of young men who entered the gym over the next few decades. Stafford became the refuge for the troubled to learn self-defense, discipline, and a safe haven after school. Stafford’s contributions to pro boxing were only dwarfed by what he did to the city of Cincinnati as helped many young people have a better chance at life.

Never one to talk about himself, Stafford was eager to let his work in the gym do the talking. As his legacy still lives in modern boxing as a fighter, he had an influence on Duke Ragan, is an Olympic silver medalist in the 2020 Olympics and is now signed with Top Rank Inc., and Evan Holyfield, the son of Evander Holyfield, was one of the last fighters to work with Stafford on a one-on-one basis.

Life is short, life is tough and conclusions are hard. Yet, the only solace one can find in Mike Stafford's passing is that he left such a major impact on the young people in his community and reshaped Cincinnati boxing after it was left in the wake of the legend, Ezzard Charles.