In an alternate universe, I am Jim Carrey. Give or take 50lbs.
Seriously, it felt like life had played one big cruel joke on me. To have a famous comedian and celebrity Jim Carrey be my doppelganger.
As a lanky teenager, I grew up on a steady diet of 1980s blockbuster action films. The skinny kid in me aspired to be the tough guy trying to start for my high school football team.
A resemblance to breakout comedian Jim Carrey playing roles like Fire Marshall Bill wasn’t exactly helping my cause. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, Dumb and Dumber starring Jim Carrey became an instant hit.
Whether it was the creases in my face or the signature five o’clock shadow that hugs our jawlines, I couldn’t escape the comparisons with Carrey, even in the UFC.
Commentator and analyst Joe Rogan likened me to “Jim Carrey on steroids”. Legendary ring announcer Bruce Buffer even called me “Ace”, in homage to Carrey’s character in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Competing as a professional fighter, I no longer felt the need to validate my toughness or prove my street cred. Instead, I embraced the nicknames.
Sure, everybody wanted something tough for their name, so I tried to spin my version of “Ace” as flawless or like an ace of spades death card. I had a decent run as the middleweight World Champion, which was probably the best tribute I could pay to the “Ace” moniker.
Though I couldn’t quite maintain a perfect record or be a maverick like I had hoped, my association with Jim Carrey would forever become a defining characteristic of my career.
As a guy that’s always been comfortable in my skin and walking to my own beat, I realized that our uncanny resemblance actually helped endear me to fans.
Especially during a time when our sport was wrestling with a rough and violent image, Rich “Ace” Franklin was a standout.
A high school math teacher, wearing neopolitan ice-cream trunks, sporting a Bible verse and having the same Carrey-esque grin anchored to my face.
I recall a time in Vegas during fight week where I was in a health food store when a woman whom I presumed to be a fan approached me, asking for my autograph.
At that time, my face was plastered all over billboards so I wasn’t surprised at being recognized.
“Hey, I’m a big fan,” she quipped in excitement.
“Oh thanks!” I replied all grateful. Just then, a woman who was working at the store, stocking shelves down the aisle, leaned back, cupped her mouth and said “Hey Karen, it’s Jim Carrey!” in an almost audible sort of whisper.
About to sign my autograph, I turn to her slightly bemused, “You know I’m not really Jim Carrey, right?”
She’s like “Oh whatever, Jim”.
I ended up signing the autograph as Jim Carrey.
After all, how many people will complain about being mistaken for a celebrity?