When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? Have those dreams changed or are you still pretty close to those dreams you had MMA Dreams, what are your dreams? as a kid?
I remember growing up in South Dakota hoping to someday be the Toughest man alive. Back then that meant the Heavy Weight World Boxing Champion at the time. Keep in mind the closest Boxing Gym was 3-4 hours away. And never produced anyone of significance but that was my Dream. I read all about the great warriors of the past. From all the Old Boxers life Mohomad Ali, Sonny Listen, Jack Dempsey. And any other boxer I could dig up info in the Library at our School. I did this during study hall. Maybe I should have studied harder to get better grades, but I couldn't help myself.
After I had read about all the boxers and their fights and their lives. I turned to figures like Achilles, the Roman Gladiators, the Wild West Gun Fighters like Wild Bill and Ringo. Great leaders like Alexander the Great, and generals from the past. In fact my fascination with Alexander continued into my adult life. I would venture to say I have read at least 10 different books alone on his life story.
Why did I want to be like these individuals? Guys who would look danger straight in the eye and not flinch. I wanted to know everything I could learn about them from where they went to school. What their passions were, and so on and so forth. Alexander's teacher as a teenager was Aristotle. Think about that he had one of greatest minds ever giving him private tutoring lessons. This had to have effected him greatly, the way he looked at the World had to be forever changed. I wanted to know where they were born friends family ect... I just found it all so incredibly interesting.
Growing up in South Dakota riding alone on a tractor for 10, 12, sometimes 18 hours a day. I had lots of time to contemplate how I would have reacted in those situations. Moving on into my adult life, I remember watching the first UFC. Then afterwards reading everything I could get my hands on. In regards to Royce Gracie and the Gracie family in general. Having arguments with my friends on why Royce fought in the first UFC instead of Rickson. Fast forward 20 years I feel incredibly lucky to have met some of these bigger then life individuals. At the time that helped to create my own MMA dreams.
Conclusion: I never fought as a Gladiator in ancient Rome. But I really feel I know what it would have felt like. After Headlining events like UFC 67 in Vegas in front of a sold out crowd at Mandela Bay. Having my picture in a face off position on Billboards as you drove thru the Vegas. They even had my picture and name on a carpet that was the size of building with my pic on it as you walked into Mandlay By Casino.
Now I know Gladiators sometimes died, and not very many guys die in the cage, but at the same time a few do. You know the risk for injury but you sucked it up and went out there to see if you would have your arm raised at the end of it. But this all started for me as a wide eyed kid in the middle of South Dakota driving a tractor. Cultivating corn, and stacking bales, bored, passing the day imagining that one day magazines would write stories about him.
I was probably lucky that I spent all that time alone growing up. I know I was lucky that my mom encouraged me to join the wrestling Team. Without that as my base I would have never been able to accomplish everything I did in MMA and Jiu-Jitsu. (Thank You Mom). I feel really lucky to have accomplished all the things I ever did with my fighting career. When it originally ended I really wanted to keep fighting, but I am glad I stopped when I did.