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The Movie-Worthy Life of Clifford Etienne

The Movie-Worthy Life of Clifford Etienne

People are complicated. Ultimately, it's hard to find people who are perfectly good or absolutely evil. Every person is a mix of good and bad impulses and decisions, mistakes, and efforts to improve. Isn't that why we want to learn more about them and listen to their stories and histories?

Consider the story of Clifford Etienne: A renowned boxer whose life follows the highs and lows of a Hollywood biography. He went through what can only be described as two different redemption arcs. He suffered painful losses, but also found beauty and meaning.


It's a true crime story with heart! And also, people getting punched very hard.

The Hollywood Worthy Life of Clifford Etienne

From the Gridiron to Iron Bars

Clifford Etienne was born and raised in south Louisiana. While in high school, he played football as a linebacker and generated interest from multiple colleges. Unfortunately, a poor decision scratched those plans. A month before the start of his senior year, Etienne was arrested for armed robbery at a local shopping mall.


Despite being only 17 and a first-time offender, Etienne was sentenced to 40 years in prison. However, he discovered a new passion while behind bars: Pugilism. Thanks to good behavior and his success in the Louisiana prisoner's boxing league, Etienne was paroled after 10 years in prison in 1998.

The Hollywood Worthy Life of Clifford Etienne

Now nicknamed "The Black Rhino," Etienne became a professional prizefighter in the heavyweight division.


Tyson vs. Etienne

Before 2003, Etienne had a solid record of 24 wins and only one loss and one draw, with 17 wins by knockout. While not a perfect fighter, he generated plenty of interest. In fact, he won his first 19 fights in a row after leaving prison.

Then he got the opportunity of a lifetime. The chance to face one of the living legends of boxing: Mike Tyson.


At the time, Mike Tyson had just suffered one of the most brutal defeats of his career at the hands of Lennox Lewis and was dealing with substantial financial problems. Everyone knew he was only taking this fight for the money. He was also 36 years old and starting to slow down. Up until the fight, Tyson complained of back problems.

On Feb. 22, 2003, Etienne and Tyson met in the ring...


...and Etienne hit the mat 49 seconds later. He didn't even make it out of the first round.

It was Tyson's last victory in professional boxing. And it would mark a decline in Etienne's career, which soon came to a screeching halt.


Clifford Etienne Returns to Prison

In 2005, Etienne was arrested again, this time for a crime spree including armed robbery of a Baton Rouge check cashing business, carjacking a vehicle with two children inside, hijacking a second car also with two children inside, crashing that second car, and attempting to fire on police officers. Thankfully, his gun jammed so no one was physically harmed by his actions.

Although he tried to argue that he was unaware of his actions due to brain injuries and drugs, he was convicted and sentenced to 150 years in prison. Later, the sentence was reduced to 105 years.


The Hollywood Worthy Life of Clifford Etienne 2

Yet Etienne found some measure of peace. While still incarcerated, he paints and has acquired some high-profile clients, including the City of New Orleans. He uses the money from his artwork to support his daughter and to fight against the minimum sentencing requirements that condemned him to die in prison without a chance at parole. Further, he also works as a prison barber.

Clifford Etienne certainly made serious mistakes and caused harm. But, like so many people, you find new dimensions when you look at him from a different angle.


Why isn't there a film about this guy? We would totally watch it.

References: Boxer Etienne gets 150-year sentence for crime spree | 20 Years Ago Today: Mike Tyson Vs Clifford Etienne | BEWARE THE BLACK RHINO HEAVYWEIGHT CLIFFORD ETIENNE FOUND HIS CALLING IN PRISON. NOW HE STALKS A TITLE | Clifford Etienne

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