“And your winner, by Unanimous decision!”
I couldn’t hear the announcer’s voice, despite standing right next to him. My body was coursing with enough lactic acid to bring down a horse. Needless to say, I couldn’t hear that I had lost my first kickboxing fight by Unanimous decision. The loss didn’t surprise me.
The first round, of the three round fight, I dominated by flooring my opponent with a looping left hook. The second round was close, but I knew that he had gotten the better of me. The third round was all his though. I had completely gassed myself out by the time I reached the third round. My arms felt like they had lead weights at the ends of them, keeping me from punching. I could have sworn I had cement shoes on my feet because I couldn’t move my legs to save my life.
The third round consisted of my opponent walking me into the corner and beating me senseless for two minutes straight. So, when it came time to announce the winner, I didn’t need to hear the announcer to know I had lost.
I was sixteen when I started training in kickboxing. I had my first kickboxing fight three months after signing up. To say that was ambitious was an understatement. I had never been in a fight before in my life, but that’s why I took the fight so fast. I wanted to prove to myself that I could hold my own in a fight. That first kickboxing fight, where I spent the last round getting mauled in front of hundreds of spectators including my family, got me hooked. That adrenaline rush, the feeling of being fully alive, I couldn’t get enough.
Since that night, I have known that I am a fighter. It’s in my blood. Nothing makes me feel more alive than going toe to toe with another guy that is my equal. In those moments, everything else in life becomes irrelevant. All of the importance put on having a high paying job, fancy cars, and worldly possessions is lost during a fight. The person in front of you doesn’t care if you make $100k a year, or if you drive a BMW because all they care about is connecting their fist to your face. It’s extremely humbling to have your ego shattered by a right cross.
Up until that first fight, I had a very different idea of what the picture perfect life looked like.
The picture perfect life check list:
– MBA degree from a top 25 University
– Six-figure job with a fortune 500 company
– Three bedroom house with a white picket fence and a tire swing
This is what I imagined the “good life” looks like. I can’t argue or deny that this is a good life. To be making more money than anyone knows what to do with, the sense of importance and prestige that comes with having an MBA while working for a major company. Truly, this is a life of safety and luxury. A person would be crazy not to strive towards this life.
I was on the path towards the picture perfect life. I have a bachelor’s degree in Finance, and I was going into my final year as an MBA Candidate at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. I had one of the highest paying MBA internships in the country, and had six-figure salary job offers on the horizon when graduated. To put it into perspective, I was given a $10,000 signing bonus just to work a summer internship! $10,000 signing bonus for a summer job?!?!?! For being a freshly 23 year old kid, I was living out a life most people can only dream of. That is, until I decided to leave it all behind.
I’m leaving behind the corporate life for the fight life. I’ll be swapping out my three piece suit for raggedy workout clothes. My dreaded commute through traffic will now be a brief walk to the gym. My morning routine won’t involve checking my emails, rather running sprints til my legs collapse. Business meetings won’t hold any more passive aggressive comments by coworkers. Instead, my coworker’s fists will do the talking for them. Also, my happy hour will include a lot more protein shakes and a lot less margaritas.
I’m leaving the cushy office job, I’m leaving the MBA program, and I’m leaving my friends and family. I’m leaving everything in my life behind to chase a wild and possibly even stupid dream. I am baptizing myself by fire.
I am moving to D’Iberville, Mississippi to fight for the Alan Belcher MMA Club Fight Team. I am taking the biggest risk of my life. There is no clear path here, and no guarantee that it will work out. I am as scared as I’ve ever been. Yet, in my gut, I know I am making the right choice.
Oddly enough, this is the most liberated I have felt in a long time. I am doing what I feel I should be doing. I am doing what I want to do. My goal is to be the UFC Lightweight Champion, and I’ll be damned if I don’t give it all I’ve got.