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Final 16 on NBC’s The Contender– now showing as a re-air on ESPN; W 20, L 2, Draw 2, KO 15.
Formerly boxed for legendary fight promoter Don King;
Brent is married to his wife of 8 years, Leeann, and they have a daughter, Jadyn, and two pit bulls, Duke and Scrappy.
Wife of Brent Cooper;
Member of World Changers Bible Institute;
Member of the praise team at Joy Church;
Housing Coordinator for Marriott Hotels.
CBN.com When Leeann Cooper was on The 700 Club in March of 2006, her husband, Brent was incarcerated in an Arizona prison. He was later released from prison in 2007 after serving a year-and-a-half of a three year sentence. His prison time was cut short due to an appeals process that was approved unanimously by a panel of three judges who overturned the court’s decision for incarceration.
According to Leeann, Brent’s case had several points for appeal, but this appeal was based mainly on improper procedure during Brent’s arrest. While in prison, Brent worked as a chaplain leading 54 people to the Lord. He also led 66 people in being filled with the Holy Spirit. Brent knew that God had a purpose for his life even while he was in prison because that purpose showed through the lives Brent’s been able to touch in jail.
“I’m an overcomer. God created me for greatness,” he says.
A NEW LIFE – FROM ‘BRENT’ TO ANTHONY
Brent’s full name is Anthony Brent Cooper, but he has been called Brent since he was a baby. However, during his time in prison, Brent knew that God wanted him to disassociate from his past, so in honoring God’s request, he changed his name from Brent to Anthony – Anthony meaning, “worthy of praise.” Today, he prefers to go by ‘Anthony’ since he is living in a new season of life.
The family has bonded quickly, especially Brent and his new daughter, Jadyn. He and his wife, Leeann, are also attending the same church and Brent is back on the praise team. He is also a pastor’s assistant, and has already shared his testimony at a youth church service and expects to continue sharing his testimony with whoever will listen.
Recently, the Coopers’ took a family trip to Hawaii- purchased as a gift from their church. Leeann is not only happy to have Brent home, but is also more than hopeful about her family’s future.
“God is so faithful!” she exclaims.
Still boxing, Brent is fighting as a welterweight and has an up-and-coming fight in October, 2007.
TIME OF TRIAL
Drug-related legal charges surfaced (a non violent first offense) against Brent that had been out for several years before he got saved. The charges were brought up in court, and on January 11, 2006, the final court hearing was conducted and Brent was incarcerated that day.
The Coopers weren't allowed to make any contact at all, and Brent was sentenced to three years in an Arizona state prison (the crime was committed in Arizona). Initially, when Leeann first heard Brent was going to be charged, she was shocked. Two days after he was taken away, she found out she was pregnant (they had been trying for a while).
The very next night she was able to contact Brent and tell him she was pregnant. Brent's response was, "I knew it."
ALL THINGS WORKING TOGETHER FOR GOOD
Brent was put in jail and could talk to Leeann freely. Leeann kept her joy and still trusted the Lord. Brent ministered to people while he was in prison. In the beginning, he lead 19 people to the Lord, prayed with 29 others, along with 2 manifested healings. Brent stayed encouraged by reading the Bible, praying, and fasting. Many people have been encouraged overall by this seemingly negative circumstance in the Coopers' life.
A FIGHTING FAMILY
Brent Cooper has charisma, male model looks, and a bright smile that is almost always on. Born into a family of boxers (his father was an amateur boxer and his cousin fought professionally) in Nashville, TN, Brent naturally loved the sport from a young age. He was also born into a family of zealous drinkers.
“Everyone would get drunk and fight,” he says. “I thought that’s just how life was.”
Brent first started fighting at age 15 when his father introduced him to Tae Kwon Do at the local gym. His family never went to church, but Brent was the first to go. He was saved at age seven, and his mother got saved when he was age 10. They went to church together. His father, an alcoholic, only went on special occasions like Easter.
“I was a believer, but I didn’t have a deep, personal relationship with the Lord,” he says. So eventually Brent started drinking and stopped attending church regularly in his early teens.
“I started following in my father’s footsteps,” Brent explains. “I was still a believer, so I preached to my friends even when I was drunk. That’s how I grew up, so I didn’t see anything wrong with it. To me, drinking was just good fun.”
In 1997 he fought 18 fights in 10 months for Don King. Cooper’s boxing career was going well. But Brent’s manager decided to move to Virginia. He didn’t want to go, so he decided to call it quits and began waiting tables. That same year his mother died at age 43 from a seizure. Her death marked Brent’s turn from bad to worse.
“I turned to drugs (cocaine) and alcohol to deal with the pain. I didn’t know how to turn to God for comfort,” he says.
Brent married Leeann that next year. His drug and alcohol addiction took a toll on his new marriage.
“It got really bad. There were times I wouldn’t come home all night,” Brent laments. With divorce on the horizon, Leeann did the only thing she knew to do. She got on her knees and pleaded with God to save her marriage.
A NEW MAN
After Leeann spent six months praying and surrendering to God, God started drawing Brent back to Him.
“It was in baby steps. I stared listening to Joel Osteen, reading my Bible, and seeking God,” he says. “I started changing.”
Eventually Brent quit drinking. He says God strategically placed people in his life to encourage him in his faith. Brent and Leeann continued to read the Word and do Bible studies together like The Purpose Driven Life.
One day while sparring with a friend at the local gym, recruiters came in for a new unscripted drama, The Contender, offering a $1 million grand prize. They asked him to audition.
“It was all God. I had only fought two times in the past five years! But they liked me, my story, and how I fought,” Brent says.
He flew out to LA (along with 6-7,000 contenders) and made it down to the final cut of 16.
“It’s amazing what God does when you completely surrender your life to Him,” he proclaims.
Brent says it was awesome working with Sylvester Stallone, an executive producer of the show, and boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard who hosted the show. Sly and Sugar Ray came around and talked with the boxers each day, he says.
Sixteen boxers came from all over the USA to live, eat, sleep, and train together to participate in physically demanding challenges over 15 episodes. Each episode ended with a five-round professional bout where the winner moved one step closer to the final round.
On the final show in May, fans got to call in and vote for the winner. As a personal trainer, Brent stayed in great physical shape, so when the call came to take part in the show, he could compete. Again, it was just God moving powerfully in his life.
Brent says there were several Christians among the fighters, including Jonathan Reid who is also from Nashville. They’ve known each other for nine years and have trained together. Jonathan lost his bout on the show.
Just after Brent auditioned for NBC’s The Contender, Brent and Leeann received a flyer in the mail for Joy Church. They decided to try it out.
“The pastor was preaching a sermon on Rocky (boxing),” he says. “We joined that day, I was speaking in tongues that night, and we haven’t missed a beat since!”
Brent and Leeann are country singers/songwriters and have a small recording studio set up in their house. They also help lead praise and worship at their church.
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