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Tywan Claxton waits for time to run out in match Sunday afternoon. The Bobcats defeated Garnder Webb University in the Convo. 

Wrestling: Tywan Claxton leads passion-driven life through coding and fighting

The path to inner peace is never linear or straightforward. Former Ohio wrestler Tywan Claxton epitomizes the idea of adapting and making the best of the cards that were dealt.

Claxton, currently residing in Denver, has been exploring the realm of mixed martial arts and boxing ever since leaving the limits of Athens. In his career, he is 6-3 in the octagon.

Fighting with the company Bellator, Claxton made a name for himself when he knocked out his first opponent, Jonny Bonilla Bowman, with a flying knee. Since then, Claxton has bounced around, becoming a self-described “free agent” for a few years. Now, Claxton is focused on both boxing and kickboxing because both of his last fights came in those respective formats.

The biggest question surrounding Claxton is what pushed him into the life of fighting. Truthfully, he has been fighting his entire life. Starting at King University in Bristol, Tennessee, Claxton was an All-American at the Division II level. After wrestling in one tournament in 2012, Claxton made a life-altering decision.

“I went back for my sophomore year and I wrestled … in that first tournament of the year and then I decided to leave the school on my way back home,” Claxton said. “I stopped at (Ohio) just because of some guys on the team … Cody Walters and Phil (Wellington). They hit me up and said I should stop by … I got there and thought that maybe this (college) thing wasn’t too bad.”

In two seasons Claxton went 52-16 at Ohio from 2013-15 with a pair of NCAA Championships qualifications. He won a pair of matches at the NCAA Championships.

At the time, the transfer rules in the NCAA were a lot different. Claxton and Ohio thought because Claxton had wrestled in a single tournament for King University, he was eligible to use a redshirt.

The NCAA ruled that because Claxton had wrestled in one tournament, it counted as a full year of his eligibility. Claxton was officially finished with his collegiate career in the most gut-wrenching way possible.

WRESTLING…Tywan Claxton Feature

Ohio redshirt senior Tywan Claxton, right, wrestles against UNI junior Tyler Patten during the meet at the Convocation Center on Feb. 6, 2015. 

In the years since the NCAA has loosened transfer rules, it has given athletes like Claxton, who were robbed of a final season of eligibility due to murky transfer rules, a lot to think about regarding what could have been. Claxton does not believe that his ineligibility was a robbery but an opening of a new door.

“I try not to live in the past,” Claxton said. “If I didn’t feel like I missed the opportunity to complete a dream that I started … as far as being a National Champion or an All-American at Division I, then I probably wouldn’t be fighting people in cages right now.”

Claxton finds peace because he gets to chase a similar dream, getting involved in mixed martial arts at Ohio.

Claxton got into MMA because he liked that he could test himself and his limits. He cites organized fighting as the perfect way to humble oneself as it tamps down egos often.

His path after becoming ineligible took him to South Beach, in Miami. Claxton joined a fighting team, the Blackzilians, led by Greg Jones among other trainers.

The most notable moment of Claxton’s MMA career came with his first fight with Bellator, a professional MMA league. Facing Johnny Bonilla Bowman in 2017, Claxton delivered a flying knee that knocked out his opponent

“It was something that I practiced while training, but I was just messing around with it,” Claxton said. “I just thought it was going to be a long fight and then I threw the knee and that jumpstarted my career.” 

Outside the octagon, Claxton is far from a stereotypical fighter. Many fighters rarely dabble with anything besides fighting due to the demanding nature of the profession. However, an interest that captured the attention of Claxton was coding. He got into coding while at Ohio and had ideas for different apps.

He went into a profession that gave him three options: switch his major, commit a lot of money to the development or simply not do it. Claxton did not like any of those options and decided to learn how to code by himself. 

“I just picked up a book and figured it out, playing in different coding languages,” Claxton said. “I’m not an expert and I am working on it, so in between training sessions, I’ll code.” 

Claxton’s main goal is to have a plan in place for when he no longer is fighting, a time that is coming in the next six or seven years. Career aside, Claxton wants to be a source of positivity and joy for those around him; he wants to become the best version of himself for the world. 

“There are peaks and valleys that go with (coding),” Claxton said. “On the other end of the spectrum, there are peaks and valleys that come with (fighting) and extreme emotion.” 

One of the biggest things that Claxton returns to consistently when discussing his future is that he wants to live a “passion-driven life.” The entire concept is rooted in the notion that every day, he is going to attack his goals to the best of his ability. 

Between his literal fights and the brawls of his daily life, Claxton has no reservations about his abilities or his desires. He fully jumps into each of his different passions and does so with a smile on his face. At the end of the day, he believes there is nothing worth doing if it is not done with passion and energy.


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