Mark Hunt has had one of the most amazingly mercurial careers in combat sports history. From a youth spent in and out of jail, to the height of kickboxing success and two entirely improbable MMA runs, mixed with long losing streaks, at times to terrible competition. Mark Hunt has seen some of the greatest highs and deepest lows that MMA and Kickboxing have to offer. He sat down with Alexander Spiers of 2 on 4 Sports in this 3 part interview on his life in fighting. You should definitely read the whole thing, but here are a few key passages.
In Part One he talked about his rough introduction to kickboxing (and the heights it would take him to), and his improbable salvation from returning to a life of crime.
An altercation the previous weekend had drawn Hunt into a fight to help protect a friend. "I'm running over there and I slip over. We end up sitting next to each other and these four guys are kicking the shit out of us." Sam Masters, a bouncer at the club and friend of Hunt's helped police break up the fight. "I was so angry though, I walked back over there and started blasting away."
"Sam grabbed me and stuffed me in the toilets to stop me from getting arrested," Hunt recalls. Impressed with the teenager's right hook, Masters offered Hunt his first fight, a Muay Thai bout in four days time. Despite having no training and never having seen a kickboxing match, Hunt was game. "I asked Sam about it and I thought I'm a tough guy, why not? That was my attitude back then, I can do anything."
"I was in a phonebox with 40c to my name, just me and my brown leather suitcase," said Hunt. "I was just about to rob the Indian store up the road. I prayed, I said God I need help, I'm about to do something I don't want to do. But I'm a survivor, I always have been." Walking towards the store he was preparing to burgle, Hunt was stopped by a man who offered a lifeline. "He ran a halfway house and told me I could stay until I could come up with some money. I had a place to live and I started again."
Part Two of the series focused on his rough introduction to MMA, and his growth in Japan's Pride FC.
At the pre-fight press conference for his first fight, Hunt's naivety with MMA would reveal itself - much to the amusement of those in attendance. Matched up with Japanese grappler and Olympic gold medalist Judoka Hidehiko Yoshida, Hunt was questioned about how much grappling he had done in preparation for the bout, to which he proudly replied that he'd completed eight hours of training. "The whole room cracked up laughing and I was like ‘hey man, it was a good eight hours!'"
"I didn't even know who Wanderlei was. Her words exactly though were ‘the Japanese people want to see their champion fight,' and that was Wanderlei, four years unbeaten." Learning more about Wanderlei's status in Japan further solidified Hunt's decision to take the fight. "It was an opportunity. I didn't know his stats, I didn't know he was one of their stars. I just took him like any other fighter - If you've got two arms and two legs, I'll knock your face off."
After battling so hard to get his fights owed in the UFC, coming up short in his debut with the promotion hit Hunt hard. "That first loss in the UFC was a tough one," Hunt tells me. " I hadn't fought in a year and you start again, different organisation, different scenario and it all plays into it." Extenuating circumstances aside, the loss to McCorkle is one that clearly doesn't sit well with Hunt. "He'd never do it again. That's his claim to fame, me. I lost that fight and all I can think is ‘man I'm freakin' stupid! This guy's a moron!"
"You back me into a corner, I'm not going to lay down and die. I've been down that road too many years in my life. No, I'm going to get up and bite you in the face!" Hunt exclaimed with ferocity, drawing the attention of the entire cafe in a moment equal parts exhilarating and isolating. "All I've ever said I need is an opportunity. Give me a chance and I'll take it with both and and run with it."
In my closing question to Mark, I asked him the proudest moment of his combat sports career. The answer, was easy. "Mate, it's right now. To still be doing what I'm doing at my age, that's absolutely my proudest moment."
There's a ton more in there (including Hunt on his fights with Fedor, Struve, and Dos Santos), so really go to 2 on 4 Sports and read the whole article by Alexander Speirs. It's a great interview with one of the sports most endearing and exciting athletes, and it makes for a great read.
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