He already has a nickname: Blaze the Great. He has been called “the next Usain Bolt,” and it may not be hyperbole. He has a growing Instagram following that just topped 300,000 and viral videos all over the place. He has football skills, too, and has drawn the attention of LeBron James and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, among others.
Oh, and he’s 7 years old.
It was his return to the track over the weekend that drew the latest round of attention to Rudolph Ingram Jr. The Tampa youngster, who said he began training when he was 4, left the competition in his wake, winning the 100-meter dash in 13.48 seconds — which would be a U.S. record for his age group. He appears to be picking up where he left off last summer, when he won the 100 and finished second in the 200 in his age group at the AAU championships.
"I can give him all the tools to be great, but his drive and work ethic and competitive mentality, it sets the bar so much higher,” his father, Ralph Sr., told Tampa’s ABC affiliate. “I have seen him [losing] midrace and just take off and get faster. He does not like to feel like a loser. He wants to win,” his father added.
His Instagram bio describes him as " ‘7 Years Young’ 3x AAU All American 🏃🥇Heisman Winner 🏆🏈Fitness Model 💪📸100 Meter Champ🥇13.48″ which doesn’t seem terribly far off the mark. His goal, he said, is “to get to the NFL,” and he already has a highlight reel.
He has headlines, too. “This 7-year-old running phenom is already faster than you” (SB Nation). “'Blaze The Great,' age 7, looks like he has super speed on the track” (USA Today). “7-year old athletic freak can’t stop going viral” (New York Post).
Wide receiver Mike Evans was among those impressed when Ingram visited the Buccaneers last summer. “I see you cuttin’ up out there,” Evans told him.
And James couldn’t help but pass judgment on one of his videos: “Sheesh!!" James wrote. “Man he shifty as hell and the fact he was switching the ball to his other hand on the right side away from the defender is even more impressive.”
Blaze’s father runs his Instagram account and supervises his workouts, and he said he is trying to ensure that his son has a normal life.
“I have never missed a practice, never missed a game, and I do all his training sessions,” Ingram Sr. told Tampa’s Fox affiliate. “He’s a superstar to everyone else. He’s my baby. I’m the manager, videographer, trainer, Uber driver . . . without the tip. The tip is just seeing him happy and loving what he does.”
If that includes the NFL or the Olympics, great. If not, that’s great, too.
“What’s next? Rocket scientist? Let’s go. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m behind him,” said Ingram Sr., who has proudly posted his son’s report cards on Instagram, too. “Nobody sees the tree grow. All they see is when it’s big and beautiful. They don’t see it when it’s just a seed — when you’re watering it. You got to stay behind your child and constantly support them and water them. They’ll eventually grow to be something.”