Todd Poulton Fights In & Out Of The Ring
By Barbara Pinnella
In the boxing world Todd Poulton isn’t a household name. In fact, I would wager that most people have never even heard of him. But Poulton is looking to make a name for himself this Saturday when he makes his professional debut at age 45. Yes, you read that correctly, Todd is 45 years old. He will fight on Celebrity Boxing 9: Survival.
Survival is an accurate name for a boxing event that Poulton is involved in, for his biggest fight has been with OCD, Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder. While he has always wanted to be a boxer, there was one thing that kept him from pursuing his dream for all these years.
“Fear,” he replied simply. “Fear is the fuel that gets the OCD going. I remember winning a Division One hockey scholarship when I was in the twelfth grade at Phillips Exeter Academy and I went around with that letter. I was so happy saying ‘This is where I’m going! This is where I’m going!’. But deep down inside, as I ran around with that letter, showing my neighbors, I knew I wasn’t going. And I didn’t.”
But was there any chance that Todd would skip doing Celebrity Boxing? Nope, none. Poulton is still surprised and excited when he thinks about how all this has fallen together. “It’s absolutely unreal,” he told me. “This was something that started out as a little charity match with a local friend of mine, and resulted in me meeting A.J. (Vittone, announcer and now trainer/manager), and A.J. knowing the connections he does and, wow.”
Two years ago, when he was 43, Todd was supposed to have his first professional fight in the state of Massachusetts, but one week before that was to take place the state took his license and would not let him fight. Legally in that state, a fighter cannot have reached the age of 36 and turn pro. Had he had a pro career in his younger years things would have been different.
Poulton has not been sitting idol, and is in great shape. “My mother’s a nurse, and she’s still hoping that a doctor will say ‘No, no, no, you’re way too old’,” he laughed. “But the EEG and the EKG, and all the tests that they run come back like I’m in my twenties. So in a way the OCD has actually been very good because I train hard, I keep fit, and I stay away dangerous things that aren’t good for my body.”
Todd’s opponent will be Chris George, a 6’2”, 230-pounder from Aston, Pennsylvania. Poulton will be the smaller man at 5’10” and 220 pounds, and will fight out of the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Years ago, when he fought as an amateur on the “Club/Bar Room” scene he had a record of 7-0 with 4 KOs. Even though this will be his first time on Celebrity Boxing, he has been signed to do five fights.
While Todd will finally get to capture his dream when he steps through the ropes, he has been living with his Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder for his entire life, and it is important to him to speak about it, both to educate others and to help himself through it. While there are many different forms of this disorder, one of his major hang-ups is with odd numbers. “I found this out when I was in second grade,” he explained. “The teacher was going around the room asking us to point to different measurements on a ruler and she told me to point to the seven. I knew where that seven was, but I could not make my finger go to that seven. I eventually found that out through what they call Cognitive Behavior Therapy. That’s really where it started.”
That is definitely not where it ended, however. “I used to have a mileage sheet I had to use, (and he was quick to point out that he never cheated the system, only himself), and if I went 13 miles I would write down 0/12, because that was an even number. The one would bother me a little bit, but because the one and the two were 12, I could do it.
“Here is what’s absolutely incredible about this disorder. In the last seven years, they pulled up all my reports, and they never found an odd number on it. If that doesn’t tell you something…”
Todd has a daughter who is headed into doctorate school, and when she would mention to her professors in psychology classes that her dad suffers from OCD, he would come in and be the class project on OCD. Or, as he joked, “a guinea pig. I started out at one college and then another college, and now I speak at seven or eight different colleges.”
But as I mentioned earlier, all the talking about it helps Todd. “It’s a very hidden disorder, and people think that if they show their quirks, as we call it, people are going to think they’re retarded, because it’s considered a mental illness. People today don’t want to be labeled anything.”
“I’ll tell you where it makes it hard. I taught for 27 years in special education and I just lost my job recently, what with job cuts and all. It’s hard for me to find a job right now because I went public with this three years ago, and it kind of went all over the country. I’ve had interviews where they ask me to explain a little bit about my OCD, and then I never get the job.
“Half my life has been spent devoting my time and energy to people with handicaps. It kind of stinks to know that people are shying away from hiring me, even though I have an incredible work record, never been in trouble with the law, am a role model in the community – and yet I can’t get a job. And I am more clear and focused right now, because of my medication, and the Cognitive Behavior Therapy. It took 17 months to learn how to deal with this – when my brain is telling me one thing and I know it’s silly. Now I don’t have to go check the stove, or turn the light switch on an even amount of times.”
But with the victories are also things that have not yet been overcome. “Here are two things that I haven’t gotten over yet. I have never, ever, owned a cell phone, and I have never touched a computer, because in my world those two things represent danger; that something could happen to my kids. But this is a real thing. It’s like an alcoholic. People say just stop drinking, but it’s not that easy. I guess they could tell me to stop OCDing!”
Relationships have been difficult. When someone already prone to this disorder reaches the age of 40 or so, it is not uncommon for the OCD to manifest itself in different ways, and his second wife could not deal with it. “She had no idea what was going on, she knew it was freaky, and she left me.
“It was unfortunate, but now as I look at it, I have custody of my daughters, I’m a great dad, I’m a very good person, and I have OCD – OK! And now I’m in Celebrity Boxing!”
Which is exactly where he wants to be. And Todd is not alone, as now Vittone is also the manager of “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Jr.
I hope that you will watch Poulton’s fight, along with the main event between Jonny Fairplay and Michael Lohan. It will be broadcast LIVE on internet PPV Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. The Internet broadcast will be available at www.tvbydemand.com, and will cost $6.99 to view live.
Todd is on the road to winning his battle with OCD. I wish him luck and hope that he also wins his fight – in the second round, of course!
Be safe and God Bless,
Viva La Raza,