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CBN.com “I had a chip on my shoulder,” says Maurice Watkins. “I was small and had a nickname like ‘Termite,’ and was probably the most likely not to succeed.”
So Termite Watkins found a way to cope.
“I had a dad that taught me, ‘If someone looks at you wrong, you bust ‘em and ask questions later,’” Termite tells The 700 Club. “I’d say, ‘I’m sorry I just whipped your son, but he just called me a name and I don’t take that. So tell him not to call me that again, or I’ll whip him again.’”
The nickname “Termite” stuck because his dad was in pest control. The little boy felt like he just wasn’t good at anything. Much of that stemmed from his home-life and his dad.
“He was what you called a mean drunk,” Termite says. “When he was drunk, he was mean. On the flip side he could be the most loving person in the world when he wasn’t drunk.”
But Termite also credits his dad for turning his life around, by introducing him to boxing.
“I weighed in at 65 pounds with my clothes on, and the next night I fought and got whipped,” Termite says. “After that my dad got me a new trainer, Kenny Weldon, who went on to train Evander Holyfield and Sergei, the Russian heavyweight.”
And no one predicted what would happen in the years ahead.
“All of a sudden I went 65 fights without losing, and I liked that,” Termite says. “I liked to win, and I liked being good at something.”
“I fought in the national when I was 16 years old – and won it. I was the first to win it at sixteen,” he says. “I’ll never forget the joy that was in my heart because I was actually succeeding.”
Life was good for Termite, and about to get even better. His girlfriend got him to go to church with her.
“I remember thinking that day that if I died that second, I would have gone to Hell, and it scared me to death,” he says. “For once in my life I took it personal, that Jesus Christ died for me.”
“And so my life did change. I had a different cause, a different desire to tell others about Jesus Christ and have them trust Him as their Savior. My identity changed, instead of wanting to be the bad guy, I wanted to be the guy to try to help somebody.”
As the years went by, Termite grew in his relationship with God, while his boxing career exploded. He went on to 128 amateur wins and a 58-5 professional record. At 25, he retired from boxing. Then he lost his way.
“I was going through a divorce, retiring from boxing, had a lot of celebrity friends who were doing the drinking, the drugs, the clubbing -- all that kind of stuff,” he says. “Boxing was taken out and I didn’t replace it with anything. And next thing you knew, I started doing things I shouldn’t have done.”
Specifically, Termite started drinking and using cocaine. He later remarried, but continued his lifestyle of partying.
“For a several year period all my money was going to it, I was breaking my family,” Termite recalls.
His wife Sharla had finally had enough.
“She said, ‘You’ve got a choice,’” Termite says. “I said ‘What?’ She said, ‘Well, as of now, don’t come home. Your choice is your family or the drugs.’ I knew she meant business. I thank God that my family is more important to me than the drugs, because I did walk away from them at that point.”
But just walking away from drugs wasn’t enough.
“When you have an addiction like that, you have to replace it with something else,” he says. “I replaced it with Christ in my life.”
“It’s not that it’s easy, it’s not. For any addict out there, I feel for you. Anybody with a drug problem, I feel for you, but the thing is -- you can stop. If you’re not stopping, it’s because you don’t want to.”
The Watkins have been married and serving God for more than 20 years now. In 2003, Termite volunteered to go to Iraq to help our troops with pest control, since he did that on the side. He wound up training an Iraqi boxing team! One athlete made it to the 2004 Olympics.
“Going to Iraq and helping people, that was one of greatest things I’ve ever done,” Termite says. “That’s where I’m most happy, is when I’m helping somebody. That’s, I think, my mission.”
For others looking for meaning in life, Termite has a ready answer.
“The more you do for others, your purpose is revealed, your purpose in life. Fill your void of addiction with Christ, because that’s the answer.”
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