I do. I really do.
Let me tell you why I think fighters are some of the best people in the world.
I just got off of the phone with Muay Thai fighter Rami Ibrahim. I’m interviewing him for a piece on his upcoming fight for Friday Night Fights in NYC. Here I am, talking to a fist-wielding ass kicker, who was nothing but well-mannered and well-spoken, yet considered a “brute” by those outside the industry.
Over and over again, in my interactions with men and women in the fight industry, I meet people who speak with heart and have shown me more respect than almost any other facet of my life. I’ve been involved in this community for two years — and I’ve only had two very negative interactions. And both were from promoters, not fighters.
I’ve never had a fighter treat me poorly. I’ve never had a fighter sexually harass me or make me uncomfortable. I’ve never been sworn at, mocked, or spoken down to. And I’ve had more fighters say thank you for photos I’ve taken, than parents and adults when I used to do portraits.
Now, I’m fully aware there are asshole fighters out there. I suppose that statistically speaking, there has to be. There are douchebags; there are guys who shouldn’t be fighting at all and have more ego than discipline; there are guys who act like dumbasses inside the cage. Maybe I’m just intuitive enough to stay away from them, hence my low level of bad interactions.
However, I’ve shot hundreds of fighters — inside the cage, outside the cage, in the locker room, in the studio. I’ve shot MMA fighters, kickboxers, boxers, Muay Thai fighters. And across the board, they have treated me with all the respect of a queen. The respect you see them show to each other much of the time after a fight — they extend to others as well.
Even the referees are awesome!
Here is my theory. Being a fighter is HARD. Being a good fighter is harder. These guys are disciplined. They have to work hard in training. They have to manage their diets and limit much in their social lives (good, fattening food, alcohol, late nights). They have to answer to other people, like coaches and teammates. They have to work harder in one week than most do in a year. I think this gives a fighter perspective.
And they can’t do all of this without good people at their sides. They can’t do it without a good coach, training partner or team. They can’t do it easily if they don’t have loving support from loved ones. They can’t do it WELL, if they are a selfish, arrogant b*st*rd.
So I continue to involve myself in the fight scene, because I love the people. I know fighters from Minnesota, fighters from New York City, fighters from California, fighters from Canada. And the results are always the same — people who make me happy there is an art form for me to watch, that they can show their hearts in.
My kids with Jordan Parsons, Nick Kirk, Uncle Donald Williams, and Andre “The Diva” Tieva
The uneducated (or judgmental) ask me how I can stand to be around such a “crass, brutal group” of people. After all, they enjoy violence as a sport! The secret is mine, because I don’t want to share them — they are the most genuine, disciplined people you will ever meet. They just happen to punch people.
Me with UFC fighter Rich Franklin