Reality TV star in training

Sunday, January 6, 2008
Ray Goodson was pictured during a Shock Performance Enhancement class Thursday at Crossroads Baptist Church in Jackson. Goodson will be one of a dozen contestants in an new reality show that turns athletes into boxers. (Kit Doyle)

After winning the state championship in wrestling his junior year at Jackson High School, going All-American two years in a row at Southeast Missouri State University and playing both NFL and Arena football, you'd think Ray Goodson would be sick of competition. And yet Monday he will board a plane to Los Angeles to start training and then filming for a new reality TV show. The show, Goodson said, is sort of like "The Contender." This time, though, the guys are football players. Twelve men will live together, learn to box, then eliminate each other over the course of the show.

"I can't really live with people," Goodson said. "The only people I've ever been able to live with are my wife and my parents."

Goodson has had two knee surgeries, which put a stop to his football career, but he started a personal fitness program that has taken off with high school athletes in the area.

Shock Performance Enhancement consists mostly of speed and agility training and lung conditioning. Goodson, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall, already towers over most of the people he trains. To stay in shape and keep the physical power that has given him so much recognition, he jumps the hurdles and runs the drills, too.

During tryouts for the show, contestants had to run on a 45-degree inline at 15 miles an hour with an oxygen mask and dozens of monitoring wires attached to their body until they collapsed. They were surrounded by trainers who caught them when they fell.

Ray Goodson, rear, led a session of Shock Performance Enhancement class at Crossroads Baptist Church in Jackson. It is a training program for area teenage athletes.

"As soon as you're done with that, you walk over and take a math test," Goodson said.

But Goodson is no rookie to tests or training.

"There's not anybody going to out-train him," said Carl Gross, the Jackson High School football coach. Gross was the coach while Goodson was at the Jackson school.

"Somebody might be a better boxer than him, but there's not going to be anybody tougher than him," he said.

Goodson's reputation is backed up by his physique: He weighs in at 255 and can bench press 225 pounds for 25 reps.

"The kid is long and tall and rangy and strong and tough," Gross said. "I guarantee you he's been banged around before, guarantee you he's quick, and he's got good hands."

Goodson said his wrestling and football careers have prepared him for the task.

"I know how to use my body," he said.

When asked if he were nervous, he answered a resounding "no," then added that he is a little worried about living with 11 other guys in one house.

"I'll probably go nuts," he said. "I'll probably be the bad personality guy on there. All my clothes are color coordinated and nothing's out of place in our house."

He said his wife supports him and is waiting on the million-dollar purse at the end. His parents, though, were slightly less enthusiastic.

"From a dad's side of it, I didn't want him to go," said his father, Ray Goodson. "You can have surgery on your knee, but your head's a different story."

Goodson said the show is a collaborative effort between Nike and ESPN and will probably be called "Nike Boxing Academy." Neither company returned e-mails and phone calls by press time.

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