Former professional boxer fights to complete bucket list at Kent State Trumbull

Wayne Holloway and his daughter Kia Butler.

Rachel Walker

Wayne Holloway is a household name at the Kent State Trumbull Campus.

If you attended the Kent State Homecoming parade, Holloway was the Homecoming king who kept jumping off Trumbull’s float to take selfies with parade-goers and give high fives to fraternity row.

“We even got President Warren to chant ‘Big T!’ for Trumbull and dance with us,” Holloway said.

On an average day after class, Holloway sets up in the Student Union at Kent State Trumbull to finish school work and always has a handful of students approach him to say hello.

“Wayne always has a huge smile on his face,” said Jim Ritter, the director of Enrollment Management and Student Services at Kent State Trumbull.

Typically after leaving campus in the afternoon, he immediately goes home to his nine-year-old son to help with homework before a night filled with basketball and football practices.

Kent State Trumbull was not always Holloway’s home away from home.

Holloway, a 50-year-old father of three from Youngstown, is set to finally earn his degree in accounting in May 2019.

Holloway started playing football after high school before heading to the U.S. Army. He became a professional boxer through the Army and went to the Olympic Trials. Holloway now specializes in agility training and coaching at the juvenile level. He wanted to have a back-up career aside from training, so he decided to pursue a college degree.

As a former boxer, Wayne Holloway has been through a lot of tough fights.

One of the toughest fights Holloway faced was being only three months and three classes away from graduating from the Trumbull Business College, before it closed in March 2017. He found out he was not able to graduate, despite being three months away from the big day.

Getting a degree was on Holloway’s bucket list, and he was not about to give up.

“I felt like a high school kid picking a new college,” Holloway said. “I threw a big party in one of the classrooms at Trumbull Business College where I announced where I’d be taking my educational talents to.’”

A lot of other colleges said they could take Holloway’s credit, but for a degree he would really have to explain to employers. Holloway wanted a degree that means something and says something.

“I am in it to win it now and I chose to major in accounting. Only a dummy would do something like that,” Holloway said jokingly.

Holloway chose to go to Kent State Trumbull after meeting Ritter, he said.

“Mr. Ritter called me back in and told me they could not use any of my credits,” Holloway said. “He just gave it to me straight which is what I asked him to do.”

Holloway ended up having to completely start over his path to higher education.

“It felt like I got punched in the face,” Holloway said. “I told Mr. Ritter ‘If I have to do it all over again, I’ll do it over again.’”

Kent State Trumbull became home for Holloway, and he also got to check another item off his bucket list.

“I really wanted to take a football five yards on a college field,” Holloway said.

Holloway has used the Kent State football facilities for agility training and got acquainted with some of the field staff. He made plans with previous coach Paul Haynes to rush five yards on the field just once. These plans fell through when Kent State hired head coach Sean Lewis in January.

“Well, it turns out one way or another, I got to check that off my bucket list when my son saw me walk onto the field for Kent State Homecoming,” Holloway said.

The most important part of Holloway’s life are his children.

He made a pact with his two daughters to graduate together when he began at Kent State Trumbull. His daughters were attending Youngstown State, so the goal was for the three of them to graduate at the same time.

Both of his daughters, Kia Butler and Kayla Coward, are taking breaks from school, leaving Holloway in the lead to get his degree.

Butler originally graduated Liberty High School and went to Ashland on a track scholarship. After sustaining an injury, she transferred to Youngstown State for several semesters but has been taking time off.

Butler just applied join her father at Kent State Trumbull.

“I am so glad I made the decision to come here,” Holloway said. “I had no idea Homecoming King was going to come out of it. I am going out with a bang, how about that?”

Next on Holloway’s bucket list is to rent an RV with his family and go out west.

“I want every bit of that family time,” Holloway said.

Rachel Walker is the regional campuses reporter. Contact her at  [email protected]