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Sports

Former lightweight champ Nate Campbell retires

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Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 03:02 AM

There was a time in Nate Campbell's life when people thought the worst of him.

"I was once told the only way I'd get on TV was if I was going to be on Cops," said Campbell, a Jacksonville native and former longtime Tampa resident. "There was no way I would get on TV being an athlete."

Since then, Campbell has boxed on several networks and was crowned the undisputed lightweight champion when he thoroughly beat Juan Diaz in 2008 - on HBO.

After suffering a split decision loss to Walter Estrada (38-13-1, 25 KOs) Saturday night in Las Vegas, his second consecutive loss, Campbell (33-7-1, 25 KOs) says he is retiring.

"I thank God that along the way, he's allowed me to go to some nice places, meet some nice people," Campbell said. "I'm friends with some of the greatest, coolest fighters of all time - Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley. These are guys that I respect and have admired a long time, so I'm glad to be where I am. Winky Wright, Jeff Lacy, I can go on and on and on. Antonio Tarver, David Santos. All the guys that I grew watching on TV and guys I grew up knowing about. To have my name mentioned in the same company at some point in my life is a great thing."

If there's one thing you can say about Campbell it's this: Success hasn't come easily.

As a 4-year-old growing up in east Jacksonville, Campbell began bouncing from foster home to foster home. As such, he attended 15 public schools during that time. He left high school to wash dishes at an Italian restaurant, eventually earning his GED.

Campbell, 38, was introduced to boxing as a 5-year-old, the lessons coming from an uncle who learned to box while locked up at Raiford State Penitentiary. Campbell didn't follow the path of most boxers, turning profession in their late teens or early 20s. He turned pro at the ripe old age of 27-years and 11 months.

"I'm the last of a dying breed," Campbell said. "When was the last time a guy came from nowhere, with nothing, and became a world champion? It doesn't happen any more. I didn't have the right dimensions, I didn't have the right management, promotions, I didn't have the Olympic pedigree and I still became the lightweight unified champion of the world."

Campbell admitted, if the right opportunity presented itself in the ring, he would climb back into the ring. But for now, the attention turns fully to his wife, Rosa, their children as well as his boxing management company, Voodoo Management, and his ministry.

"I'm starting to write my life story. I'm going to sit down and I'm going to write it," Campbell said. "A lot of people say they want to hear it. A lot of people want to see it on the big screen. I don't know where it's going to lead, but I'm going to tell it all. ... I want people to know you can come from nothing and go anywhere you want to go."

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