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Terence Crawford wrestles with legacy, as his three sons stake claim in wrestling

Terence Crawford with his son, Terence Crawford III
Terence Crawford poses for a photo with his 8-year-old son, Terence Crawford III, who’s ranked No. 1 in the nation in his wrestling weight class (December 2019).
(Courtesy of the Crawford family)

Three-division world champion Terence Crawford used boxing to emerge out of the rough side of Omaha, surviving a bullet to his head in 2008 along the way to make millions.

But, he’s clear he doesn’t want his children to follow in his footsteps. Crawford, who has three sons and two daughters, wants them to wrestle instead because he believes it will build them a better foundation.

Crawford was a wrestler himself, just like his father, grandfather and uncles, before he broke out as a modern-day, pound-for-pound elite boxer. But it’s not what he wants for his sons, Terence Crawford III, 8, Tyrese, 6 or Tacari, 3.

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Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs), a WBO welterweight champion, fights Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Crawford, who will make almost $4 million for the fight, does not take many breaks from camp. But he bends every rule in the book when his sons are in wrestling competitions.

Crawford, who trains in Colorado Springs, took a break from training camp in November and headed to the Tulsa Nationals Kickoff to watch his 8-year-old, who’s ranked No. 1 in the nation in his weight class, win yet another tournament. Terence Crawford III has won nationals as well, and placed first in has last three tournaments. That same weekend, Tyrese placed second in Oklahoma.

“I don’t want my kids to box — no way,” Crawford, 32, said. “Boxing is a dangerous, cruel sport. I love the sport, but I don’t want to see my kids in the ring, potentially being hurt, with me not being able to do nothing to help them.

Tyrese Crawford, 6 and Terence Crawford III, 8, pose after competing in the Tulsa Nationals Kickoff wrestling tournament.
Tyrese Crawford, 6 and Terence Crawford III, 8, pose after competing in the Tulsa Nationals Kickoff wrestling tournament in November.
(Courtesy of the Crawford family)

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“Whenever my kids have a tournament, or something going on, I make it a point to make sure I’m there for them every step of the way. That’s real important to me.”

The mostly quiet and indifferent Crawford is headed to what surely will be Hall of Fame honors once he retires. But he’s still seeking a career-defining fight.

Mandatory challenger Kavaliauskas, a two-time Lithuanian Olympian billed as “Mean Machine,” isn’t the credible and marquee test that Crawford has sought.

“I don’t get down on [not getting the fights I want] because I’m still making a living to provide for my family,” Crawford said. “It’s kind of disappointing that I can’t get the fights I really want to get. I don’t feel that I need to chase anybody, or call anybody out because I’m the No. 1 fighter in the division. I’m the best fighter in the world. If the fights happen, they happen. If they don’t, they don’t.”

Top Rank head Bob Arum, Crawford’s promoter for at least another six fights, said he’s on the case for finding his star fighter a palatable opponent in 2020. Crawford is coming off a crushing of Amir Khan in April, his pay-per-view debut.

Arum pointed to his recent deal with longtime rival in PBC head Al Haymon around the Feb. 22 rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury as reason to believe he can get Crawford a strong opponent.

Terence Crawford aspires to fight the likes of Errol Spence Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman, but the business of boxing has made it difficult.

High on the list is unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., who still remains sidelined from a serious car accident, and Shawn Porter, the opponent Spence beat in September in a fight-of-the-year candidate. Arum said that once Spence is healthy, a fight with Crawford can be negotiated in less than an hour, a pleasant development because Arum has previously called Haymon a cancer to the sport.

“We want to make the biggest fights possible for Terence,” Arum said.

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“Bob Arum knows what I want, and how we want to pursue the next two fights,” Crawford said. “They understand what I expect out of them. I want to continue to be successful with the challenges they put in front of me and make sure I win them in tremendous fashion.”

Crawford does not care about the critics who point to his sub-par hit list compared to that of other star fighters.

“They can criticize me all they want,” Crawford said. “I’m going to get that. I’m not worried about what the critics say, or how they feel I should go with my career. I’m feeling strong, and everything is falling in place.”

As Crawford wrestles with his career-defining moment, he’ll watch his three sons do the same.

“They’re tough, they know how to defend themselves, they box,” Crawford said. “But I’m the one that supposed to defend them. I’m the one going through the sacrifice so they can do something better with their lives.”

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