UFC welterweight Leon Edwards wants to use his platform to spotlight a surge in knife crime following a weekend of “heartbreaking” violence in his native Birmingham that left one man murdered and a teenager fighting for his life.
On Sunday, Edwards shared a graphic video of a fatal stabbing to raise awareness about the recent crimes. He later discovered the victim shown in the video was one of his best friend’s cousins.
“It’s getting crazy, that kid that got stabbed in that video I posted yesterday, it was actually one of my best friend’s cousins that got stabbed,” Edwards told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “I only found out about it today; I didn’t even know about it until this morning that it’s one of my best pal’s cousins, so I was like, ‘Oh f*ck.’”
“Yesterday alone there were three or four stabbings in Birmingham, which is f*ckin’ madness in a lockdown,” he added.
Edwards believes he’s in an “perfect position” to speak on the issue given his own past with gangs, which he revealed this past summer in an interview with ESPN.
“I feel like I’m in the perfect position,” he explained. “I’ve been there and done that, and I can try my best to show them another way. It is hard, though. There’s not really an answer that I can give to fix it all. But to see little kids getting stabbed to death in broad daylight, in a lockdown, it’s heartbreaking to see it.
“I posted it yesterday just to shed a bit of light on it, to let people see how bad it is here. The kids need help; they need something to happen, because they’re turning a blind eye to it like everyone else is. You know, [they say], ‘It’s gangs, just leave them to it,’ which is not a good way to look at it. I try my best to talk to the people I know in Birmingham; I try my hardest to try help the kids.”
The recent stabbings have given the top-rated welterweight a stark reminder of what his future could’ve been had he not been brought to a combat sports gym by his mother in his younger years.
“It’s crazy, I showed my friend the video [of a recent stabbing] yesterday, and he sent me a picture of me when I was 15 or 16 into the group chat. There were about five or six of us [in the picture] and out of all of us, four of us are doing life sentences right now, apart from me and the guy I sent it to. The other four kids are all doing life in prison now for murder. I’m very grateful for what my mum has done, for me and my brother, to show us another path. I’m happy that we stuck to it, and now it’s paying off.”
Check out Leon Edwards’ return to Eurobash. It begins at 12:00.