Chris Byrd, 1992 Olympic Silver Medalist and Two Time Heavyweight Champion, has shared his story all over the world, whether it is in small towns, big cities, or different countries. Chris loves to share his life of growing up in a boxing family of eight brothers and sisters, where boxing was all he knew. He started boxing under the guidance of his father Joe Byrd and his mother Rose Byrd at the young age of 5. It didn’t take long for him to set serious goals for his life. After not making the 1988 Olympic Boxing Team, he knew he had to reach farther than he had ever reached. He worked hard for the next 4 years, winning many amateur titles. In 1992 he finally reached his goal, making the 1992 Olympic Boxing Team. Where he won a Silver Medal. Along with his Olympic team mates Oscar De La Hoya who won a Gold Medal and Timmy Austin who won the Bronze.
After a glorious return home from Barcelona, Spain, his boxing career did not start the way he thought it would. He shares his very humbling story of not signing the big deals and making the money he thought was due him as he watched his other Olympic teammates soar in the professional world of boxing.
Little did he know it was all part of Gods plan for his life. He shares how all he wanted was wealth, fame, and the world at his feet, but when God brought Chris to his knees he had an immediate transformation. He shares his very powerful and emotional story of his personal salvation and living his life for Christ in the dark world of boxing. His climb to winning titles, having to box friends, his ups and downs, and God's leading through every season.
After winning the silver medal at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, the Lord used this time in my career to allow me to slow down and take a look at my life and myself. I was married to my beautiful wife and best friend, Tracy. We had a healthy, adorable baby girl, Jordan. My future in boxing looked bright, as I was turning pro. Everything seemed right on track, yet some- thing was missing.
It was a time in our lives when Tracy and I desired to live our lives right. We were a new family and we wanted to do what a good family should do. We knew, from many seeds planted in our lives through the years, that reading the Bible was a good thing for a family to do. So we began reading the Bible together, but we didn’t have any understanding.
It was one day during this time in our lives, when I came in from playing basketball with my brothers and sisters, that I discovered a new Tracy. As soon as I came in I noticed something different about her, and I asked her what it was. She told me that she had spent some time with our neighbor who was a born-again Christian, and that evening on our back porch the neighbor had led her through a prayer of salvation. I knew something was missing in my life, but I didn’t want to be like one of those “holy roller” types (some of whom had planted seeds in our lives), so I wasn’t about to inquire further.
As time went on, she faithfully went to church and took our daughter, Jordan, with her. She always asked me to come, but I wouldn’t go... not for a while, anyway. It wasn’t long, though, before I began to think about how my wife and daughter were attending church without me, and I soon decided I should accompany them.
The first time I visited church with my wife I was “checking it out.” The pastor spoke wisdom and truth from the Bible like I’d never heard before (or had never been open to hear before). I listened and absorbed. I went back to church with her the following week, and I again heard the pastor speaking from the Bible.
This time I felt like the pastor was talking directly to me. He described an individual, like myself, whose life was being lived without Jesus Christ. This individual sought true happiness and peace in his life, but just couldn’t obtain it. Something was missing. Though I had never met the pastor before, his message was spoken as if he knew my life.
On that day I recognized that I was a sinner, needing a Savior. I bowed my head and asked Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins, and I placed my faith and trust in Him to be my Savior. That day marked the beginning of my new life - my life following Jesus Christ. On that day I did not get a religion, but I got a relationship with my Maker.
The one thing that was missing in my life was now found. What happened after the 1992 disappoint- ment in Barcelona? Well, I bounced back professionally, hungry to achieve my dreams in my boxing career. I moved up to the heavyweight division and accumulated 36 professional victories.
My greatest triumph so far is my win over Evander Holyfield on December 14, 2002. In this fight I boxed a warrior and won a unanimous decision that brought me the belt and title of “IBF Heavyweight Champion of the World”.
But what has happened since Barcelona that has the most significant meaning of all, is that I found my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While my professional boxing ambitions are aimed high, my ultimate goal in life is to be a Champion for the Lord. Boxing is my career, but Jesus is my life.