Follow Your Jab, Lead With Your Heart

Arron "Bad Man" Barringer

Mixed Martial Arts is well into the largest period of growth our sport has ever experienced. Each day brings new recognition to a sport that only a few short years ago was a bloody spectacle in the public eye. Not even considered a sport, MMA was dubbed “human cock-fighting” to the ignorant masses.

These times are quickly becoming the “old days”. You know, the time when if you saw an individual with a TapouT shirt on… odds were 100:1 that he trained. Now they sell them in Wal-Mart! MMA shows are selling out from local to national venues. MMA fighters are finally receiving much deserved recognition for their training and discipline. We are finally beginning to see fighters receiving purses commensurate with their dedication, though we still have a LONG way to go on that front.

By most standards MMA is quickly outpacing all the other combat sports and yet we seem to be losing the battle for that which matters most; the hearts of our fans. Oh, I know YOU love MMA. But how many people do you know treat it as anything more than a spectacle? Yet even people completely unaware of even rudimentary boxing techniques  deem it the “sweet science”. They consider boxing a safe sport as opposed to the perceived “brutality” of MMA. Why this die hard devotion to a sport that sees approximately 8 – 10 deaths a year as well as seeing it’s champions become so concussed and brain damaged that they suffer from increased complications in old age? While there may be many answers, I would like to propose what I think is the most important:

Boxers don’t forget where they’re from.

Now listen, I am no expert on MMA. Not even close. I am even less of an expert on boxing, but I can tell you from my in depth research (A Google search) that boxers from Micky Ward to Cassius Clay support a host of charities. They do charity events, appearances, donations and fundraisers. They take time out of their lives to support something other than their own careers on a level that far surpasses the rare Brian Stanns of MMA.

I am not very good at blindly following the herd. I prefer to think for myself and it is for that reason that I volunteered for Recon while in the Marines. I wanted the challenge, responsibility and independence that come with being a part of the selected elite. Even more than that, and crucial to my personal Tao, is the desire to be a part of something greater than myself. (I was a big fan of Samurai and Ninja Turtles when I was a kid.) Another thing the Marine Corps taught me was leadership, especially from the front.

Here it is, my MMA brethren: Let’s start remembering where we are from. From this moment forward, whenever I fight, no matter where, no matter which organization; I will give 100% of what I make from ticket sales to charity. For instance, if I make 10% off every ticket I sell… then 10% of every ticket I sell goes to alocal Cystic Fibrosis chapter. I won’t make a dime off you if you come to cheer me on. If I fight in Sydney, Australia the same thing applies, except I will give my cut to a Sydney chapter. As Americans, we should have a spirit of giving and innovation. As fighters, we should feel compelled to be of service to the communities that sustain our careers. Maybe when we start making a difference, we will see the difference in our careers.

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