‘Butterbean’ Eric Esch Wins His Biggest Fight at Nearly 60 Years-Old

Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch has been defying expectations ever since he graced the sport of boxing in 1994. The American tank found immense fanfare through his spectacular boxing knockouts, where he, a portly man of 5’11.5″, flatlined adonis after adonis. Soon enough, the name Butterbean was unanimously adored and his superstardom was inevitable.

Well over 100 fights later, dipping his toes into kickboxing and MMA in the process, a 57-year-old Butterbean has scored the biggest win of his life – a victory against time.

Though Butterbean enjoyed immense success in his fighting career, it came as a double-edged blade. Esch inched closer and closer to record weight, and as time went on, he eventually crossed the threshold, capping off his boxing career at 426.5 lbs.

“He didn’t train for probably his last 10 to 15, 20 fights,” explained Esch’s son Caleb. “He just wasn’t able [to].”

The wear and tear Butterbean endured throughout his career, paired with the weight gain resulted in the American fighter being bed-bound with a fused hip. Surgery wasn’t possible since Butterbean was too heavy; he needed to lose weight drastically, but where to start?

Butterbean grew to over 500 lbs. Credit: DDP Yoga

“He just couldn’t get up,” Caleb said. “We didn’t think he’d live much longer.”

“I’d honestly given up,” Butterbean remarked.

It was only when Butterbean was invited to a podcast with Bas Rutten, Rick Bassman, and Shawn Ray, that he saw an out. Bassman pushed Butterbean to participate in a TV show with professional wrestler-turned-yoga instructor Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), titled ‘Change or Die’. Page opened five slots for individuals to take part and change their lives for the better.

“There was no one who was worse off than Bean,” said DDP Yoga Master Trainer Josh Nair. “His level of pain was off the charts every single day.”

Butterbean persevered nonetheless, determined to return to fighting form. His tearjerking journey can be watched below in ‘Butterbean’s Comeback – One More Fight’:

By the time Butterbean was ready for hip surgery, he’d dropped below 300 lbs., which was a record low for the heavyweight fighter in many years. Soon enough, Butterbean was able to ditch his chair, and eventually his crutches, the boxing legend could stand just about upright, where he was hunched over before. All thanks to DDP’s Yoga Program.

“For me… being stuck in a wheelchair, I might as well have been dead,” Butterbean lamented. “…. I was looking out the window like old folks in a nursing home. …. Back in the day, I believed I could accomplish anything, I could do anything, but some time down the line I forgot that.”

With this, Butterbean starts a new chapter in his life, a testament to his indomitable spirit and the willingness of others to help someone in need. Another fight for “The 4-Round King” would be unwise, but he could certainly become an ambassador and an advocate for boxers’ wellbeing.

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Mathew Riddle MMA

Mathew Riddle

Mathew is a combat sports journalist & designer. His past bylines include Sports Illustrated, Heavy on UFC, Sport Skeeda, MMA UK, and MMA Sucka.