Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

A Champion that took a Chance…

With the Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather fight in our midst, fans and casual spectators of the sport find themselves thirsting for boxing. Several youth I’ve encountered have started to inquire about the sport surrounding the fight. This is out of the ordinary around these parts because boxing isn’t a sport many pursue regularly. It involves tireless training and discipline, unbridled aggressiveness and rage, constant sacrifice and heart. It’s one of the only sports in which the sole determining factor between winning and losing is you and you alone. Only the most determined of persons are successful in making it in the sport. And one of those successful few is from right here in Jacksonville, Florida.

Marcus Ellington “Arelius” Upshaw is a middle weight professional boxer, the son of retired U.S. Navy E6 Harry Upshaw, Jr. He began his boxing career on the south-side of Jacksonville in a neighbor’s backyard. The neighbor, a close friend of his invited him to his back yard to box after middle school. 10451847_10155159969000467_6760238368016899849_nHis strong athletic ties would not allow him to back down from a challenge, and understandably so.

His uncle,  Gene Upshaw was an NFL Hall of Fame offensive guard for the Oakland Raiders, and his younger sister, Antonette, played professional basketball in the WNBA. So that day there was no way Marcus wasn’t seizing the opportunity before him. Twenty years and thirty five professional fights later, Upshaw recalls what made him pursue boxing after that unscripted afternoon in the 7th grade.

“I just loved the feeling it gave me. I loved the rush it provided”.

It would be that rush that would motivate him to join a local gym. Gold’s Gym in Beameadows at first, then moving on to others including Team Saviors off Main Street, and another on the East-side. To a boxer there is no boundary; there is no line you won’t cross to fulfill your passion. And Marcus did not let different sides of town stop him from pursuing his dream.

At the gym there were long hours and pain staking workouts but eventually his time would come. While working with Sunshine State Amateurs in just his third fight, he defeated a much heavier favored opponent proving to himself and the boxing world that he was made for the squared circle. Marcus turned pro at the age of twenty six, and upset a 10-0 Ashandi Gibbs  by way of a fourth-round technical knockout for the Florida State middleweight championship. A champion that simply took a chance just a decade earlier.


After nine years in the game Upshaw has already surpassed the average career length of a professional boxer. So what drives him to continue to step into the ring? Answer.. “My kids man.. my kids are my motivation, it’s really why I do it”.  Ironically, the demands of profession has him away from them often. 10806358_10154833638030467_194253034413451829_nHe’s had fights all over  including the Dominican Republic and Mexico where he fought for the World Boxing Council Continental Americas middleweight title. But it’s that determination to provide a great life for his family that pushes him each fight, each punch, each breath.

Marcus currently resides in Miami, it provides more opportunities for matches and training.But his goal is to move back home and open a boxing gym for youth here in North East Florida. With the surge in violence among juveniles ever rising in the city, a boxing venue would be ideal for the environment. It would allow youth to use their anger and frustrations toward a sport that could turn into a life changing experience or even a lucrative profession. For Marcus, boxing has opened some of those lucrative doors . He has been cast for acting, modeling, and advertising positions.  (laughing) “Man… I can’t act…. but for some reason they put me in there anyway”.  Marcus Ellington “Aurelius” Upshaw knows it’s an opportunity. An opportunity just like the one he experienced in his neighbor’s backyard all those years ago. An opportunity that could open up new possibilities. Possibilities that could last for a lifetime if not by simply taking a chance. 

By the way, on the big fight tonight, Marcus picked….. Floyd Mayweather Jr.   Why??  “Scientifically Floyd should win the fight”


UPDATE: 8/17/15

Marcus won the WBC Mediterranean Super Middleweight Championship over his opponent Buğra Öner on August 15th 2015! Congratulations Marcus!!





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