Arkansas Across the Water: Rickey Williams and the London Monarchs

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Rickey Williams was one of very few people in America to be drafted into a sports league overseas. Williams was one of the top defensive players in the 1984-1987 Southwest Conference, but received little attention from the American media. He is still one of the leading tacklers in Razorback history today. Rickey was a semifinalist for the Butkus award two years in a row in 1986 and 1987. 

Regardless of how outstanding his numbers were for UofA, his defensive talent was overlooked by the NFL draft. An all-star linebacker, Williams was drafted in the seventh round of the World League of American Football, also known as the NFL Europe, in 1991. He began his professional football career with the London Monarchs. Williams was a critical part of leading the Monarch’s path to the WLAF World Bowl in 1991. A nearly “sold-out” Wembley Stadium hosted the championship game between the London Monarchs and the Barcelona Dragons. The 1991 World Bowl ended with a London victory of 21-0. Upon returning back to Arkansas, Williams used his sports talent to produce a popular charity for young playersin Central Arkansas known as Life Champs. 

Life Champs is a charity that has made a major impact on Arkansas youth. The foundation is dedicated to youth sports leagues, camps, and tournaments for kids in Central Arkansas. It assists young Arkansas players by providing them with guidance, purpose, self-confidence, and essential mentoring. As stated by the foundation itself, “The name says it all. Character, Heart of compassion, Attitude, Mentors, Purpose, and Serving others” (Life Champs Foundation).

Williams is a key example of pride in Arkansas. The former Razorback’s son, Zach Williams, began following his father’s footsteps after taking a Sports Scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas. Zach decided to stick to his roots when he chose Fayetteville after receiving over 13 offers from schools that included Texas, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Florida. He signed his letter of intent with the Razorbacks in 2018. In the Fall Semester of 2019, Zach hit the field as a Freshman and played nine games with the Razorbacks. Like his father, Number 56 has become a critical part for Razorback defense. 

Rickey’s daughter, Sydni Williams, has also been listed on Colorado State University’s women’s basketball roster since her Sophomore year in 2018. An Arkansas historical All-Star, a proud father, and even a World Bowl champion, Rickey Williams has become one of the most recognized names in Arkansas football.

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