Ebo Elder: Sparring Spouses
By Dory Nissen
The 700 Club
North American Boxing Organization Championship and World Boxing Organization Championship are only two of several titles that lightweight boxer Ebo Elder holds. But his success stopped in the ring. At home, his marriage failed,and Ebo found himself divorced and miserable.
"I started boxing when I was two-years-old, as soon as I could stand up. My dad bought me a heavy bag and taught me to jump rope, and I began my quest for a world title. I love the sport, I trained hard, I looked at my boxing role models -- Haggler, Hearn, Sugar Ray Leonard. I loved it, and I dreamed of being like them one day," Ebo recalls.
He holds several championships and ranked among the top five lightweight boxers in the world. But what the world didn’t know…
Ebo’s fighting went beyond the ring into his marriage with his wife, Amy.
"The arguing between Amy and I had no real reason. There were no big issues. It was always over small, meaningless things. It would ignite this fire inside of us that would build and build until literally, we could not fight anymore."
Amy remembers, "I was very angry at him, I was angry at myself too. Every day, I would ask, 'Why are we not getting along? Why are we arguing? Why are we fighting? I’m going to do better today.' And it never happened."
What did happen was their marriage. It ended after Amy saw Ebo’s car parked early one morning at a former girlfriend’s house. Amy knew he had spent the night.
"I really thought we were going to make it. I thought we were going to get some counseling and work things out. But when I saw his car that day, I realized that he wasn’t trying as much as I thought he was, and I felt that I was putting all the effort in, and he wasn’t giving anything back."
Ebo and Amy divorced. Ebo turned all of his attention on his career and tried to forget the wife he lost.
"Turning pro made it a lot easier to party and have a fast lifestyle, involved in drugs, alcohol, and girls. The more I did it, the bigger the void got, and the more empty I was," remembers Ebo.
Amy too attempted to start over. Raised in a Christian home, she decided to start going to church.
"I would go to church on Sundays, but during the week I tried to fill the void. I tried to hang out with my friends. I partied, and just tried to make myself happy," she says.
After two years of misery, Amy asked Ebo if he wanted to try again. He did. Amy spent the night with Ebo but the next morning immediately regretted her decision. She told Ebo she had changed her mind.
"I went from an emotional high to the lowest low I had ever been. I went from this hope that we were back together and another chance, to it being over all over again," he says.
A month later, Amy discovered she was pregnant.
"I knew that the relationship that we had was over. And here I was pregnant, not married, living with my parents, and I knew that he wasn’t where he needed to be, and I wasn’t where I needed to be to raise a child."
But God was about to do a miracle in Ebo's and Amy’s lives through their newborn baby girl.
"When I saw him sitting on the couch with her, I knew there was hope because he was there. He was there holding our daughter. And I just prayed from that day forth that God would bring us back together and make us the family that we were supposed to be," says Amy.
Ebo too knew he wanted to surrender his life to Christ.
"When I walked in and saw my daughter for the first time, I knew that God had given me another chance. This was an opportunity for a new beginning, and I wasn’t going to let that slip by me. This time I had a tangible reason to get my life together with my daughter, Maddie. I knew I had to do that. I knew that I had to change as a person. And I knew that people don’t change. But I knew that God could change the person."
With both Amy and Ebo focused on living for God, they remarried. Ebo’s radical change made headlines and in the boxing world, he became known as the 'Gospel Gladiator.'
"I used every opportunity to give God glory, to spread His message, and basically to be an evangelist. When you ask God for a platform, He will give you the opportunity."
Ebo has retired from boxing and is now in full-time ministry, traveling the nation, and sharing his story.
"But I know that I was lost, and now I’m found. I was hopeless, and now I have hope. I know that I had no life, and now I have a great life, and it’s all because of God."
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