BUSTA’S PERSON OF THE WEEK: Tony Burton, a man of faith and strength

March 08
05:00 2018

By Busta Brown, The Chronicle

“You’ll go through stuff, but you don’t have to look like what you go through,” said Dr. Tony Lewis L. Burton III, PhD.  Burton was 650 pounds, and he’s completely blind in his left eye. He’s now 240 pounds.

“I lost 400 pounds, Busta.” I replied, not everyone believes they can do that. He gave me a warm and very confident smile and then replied, “But they can. You can do anything you wanna do. It’s all mental.”

Dr. Burton attended University of Tennessee at Martin on a football scholarship, where he played offensive lineman. He was 350 pounds. “It was expectable to be that big, because it had its advantages when you’re playing offensive line.”

He said eating big meals was a part of maintaining his football weight, and with the help from his coach, he worked out and lifted weights. “And I was playing sports all the time, so I was a healthy 350. I carried that weight in a positive manner. When I graduated from college, I stopped playing sports and working out and not long after that I moved here. I kept those same eating habits, but not exercising. That’s how I got to that point of being 650 pounds.” Burton said it wasn’t the eating that caused the fast and extreme weight gain. “It was not exercising. Plus I love to cook, so people came over my house and I would eat all the time, without working out. Then food became a crutch for me. It was comforting,” he said.

The Winston-Salem businessman said he didn’t notice the pounds piling on because of his lifestyle. “I wore tailor- made clothes; I had nice vehicles and a charming personality,”  he said.

At 650 pounds, he didn’t lack confidence, and his inner circle loved him. “Back in those days, believe it or not, I was called Big Sexy.” I said the name big sexy glamorized being overweight. “It made me very comfortable, I didn’t have an issue with it.  I was mobile and I enjoyed being 650 pounds. At work they called me Big Tony.” He went on to say if you’re comfortable with yourself, then everyone around you will be comfortable with you as well.

Dr. Burton came to a realization that being Big Sexy began to cause big problems.  The weight took a toll on him mentally, physically, and personally.

“When I went to a buffet, people would look at me like, why in the world are you here? This is what got you this way, so why are eating at the buffet?” We laughed, yet we knew the seriousness of his situation. “That’s the stigma that came along with being overweight, but my confidence helped me get over it. I didn’t care what you thought about me, because I knew who I was, and that God made me who I was.  But he also told me it was time to make a change.”

That message was clear when Burton had to take an epidural each day to help him walk, breathing treatments, and sometimes his veins would pop in the middle of the night.

“Although I was confident with who I was and my friends were as well; I had to realize what I was doing to myself. The night I woke up with blood in my bed due to my veins popping, I knew I had to make a change, and quick.” Burton also shared his battle with losing complete sight in his left, and other trials and tribulations that he overcame with prayer, faith and hard work.

Most men rarely show the beautiful and warm side of their personalities. Not Tony; it flows naturally. It comes out even moreso when he talked about his wife and how she stepped up as his rock.

“She’s everything to me. There’s God and then my wife and children,” Burton said.

Burton was educated at the University of Tennessee at Martin (1989, BS Business Administration – Concentration: Administrative Data Systems), Winston-Salem State University (1996 Middle Grade Education – Concentration Math and Social Studies) and Columbus University (2003 MA– Education Administration and 2008 Doctor of Philosophy: Education Administration). Dr. Burton uses his various degrees and certifications to make a marked impact in the life of youth.  Currently Burton servers as chief executive officer of Northwest Child Development Centers Inc., dba MudPies, a nonprofit child care organization providing services in Forsyth, Davie and Stokes counties with an annual average budget of $3 million.

Check out the rest of my interview with Dr. Tony Lewis L. Burton III PhD to find out how he lost over 400 pounds, became a very successful businessman and one of the most influential in men Winston-Salem. 

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