I have always considered myself to be a simple midwestern guy from a small town where the high school I graduated from was surrounded by cornfields. My parents divorced when I was 5, and an unstable life clearly stacked the deck against my odds for success. I was the only child of 7 to attend and graduate college.
While earning undergraduate degrees in both Education and Mathematics, I spent any free time I had training in various types of martial arts. I continued my studies to earn a Masters in Education while also teaching high school math. During this time I began competing professionally.
After four years of teaching, I resigned to pursue a childhood dream…the life of a professional athlete. I quickly moved up the ranks and earned the UFC Middleweight World Title. During my career, I launched American Fighter clothing company with several business partners. Our corporate message was about finding the fighter in each of us. Whether you are a person battling cancer, an athlete preparing for competition or a soldier stepping into combat…we are all fighting for something.
As the landscape of the martial arts sports world began to change shape, our brand’s message expanded beyond the boundaries of that industry. The American Fighter name had an obvious connection with military personnel, police officers and firemen. So, we sold our company to another who had the ability to move it into mainstream outlets where the brand continues to grow.
The connection of my clothing brand to military, police and firemen was no accident. I have always felt a civic duty to give back to my community and my country. I have spent countless hours training, and training with local police, as well as visiting military bases both domestic and abroad. I have had the privilege of visiting troops in combat zones, injured veterans in hospitals, and working with organizations such as the DAV and IAVA.
Few athletes successfully transition into second career after retirement, and from personal experience, it is not an easy transition. My personal ambitions center around God, health and competition…and I strive to keep them in that order. I consider myself blessed to work for Asia’s largest sports media property, ONE Championship. My experience in the industry gives me an active role across many departments within the company.
When I’m not busy with all of the above, I spend time speaking to children, corporations, churches or anyone who will listen to me. I delivered my first ever public speaking at TEDx Chicago University when I taught everyone “How To Be A Loser.” If I am speaking, it is generally something concerning faith, fitness, nutrition or motivation.