We can’t thank Ron Mann enough for his testimony and story! What an amazing feeling to be a part of a story like this mans! Read it for yourself or click HERE to hear the pod cast. Check out our other amazing pod cast while you are over there, all hosted by the amazing Eddie.
“I’m a professional Cage fighter. Obviously I’ve got one leg so I’m a little different than most cage fighters. I love my Lansing crew. I can go in there and just chat it up. One of the things I love about this company is that when you walk in you feel like family. It’s not like, ‘Oh just come in. Get your stuff and get out.’ These people know me. They know what’s going on in my life. Know how I’m doing. You know if I’m having an off day after a fight and I’m all banged up and beat to hell I walk in and they’re like, “Holy shit you look like hell!” *chuckles*
Let me give you my story. When I was 17 years old because the way my birthday lays I joined the Army. My entire family starting with my Great Great Grandfather served in the military. My grandfather was in Nazi Germany and both my uncle and my father were in Vietnam so I knew I was going into the military. It was guaranteed. It’s a very proud family tradition of mine and I’m happy I served. I was 17 when I joined the reserves. After about 2 years of that I said,” I’ve had enough” and I need to be active duty. I went into active duty in 1990 so that lets you know how old I am. *laughs*
When I was in basic training we went to war in Saudi Arabia, DesertNam. That was a wakeup call like, “Holy shit. We’re in war.” Used to be a long time after Vietnam there was no kind of conflict. Then we had 9-11 and now we have real wars going on so it was a wakeup call for me. I was a combat medic and always knew I wanted to be a combat medic. After 2 years coming back I knew I had to go active duty and serve my country. My service to others is the highest form of sacrifice of self and that’s the way I elevate myself is through service of others. I’ve always believed that and it’s always been pressed upon through my family and the highest way I could serve my country was going active duty. I went across seas and zipped my first body bag at age 19. It leaves some scars on you. The last guy I worked on was one of my best friends. He got shot 7 times. We were doing compressions on him and every time I compressed, blood would squirt out of his head, but he was family. You do whatever you have to do for family so we did what we could. The military was an amazing experience because it let me go experience cultures and gave me drive, purpose, discipline and respect. Back then they didn’t decommission you for 2 weeks. It was, “You’re a soldier with a weapon. Now go be a civilian.” I didn’t know how to do that. I came out and I was crazy as the mad hatter; I mean I was a lunatic. *chuckles* I had my Kawasaki ninja 750, I love my sports bikes, had it up to 164 at one time. That’s as fast as I could red-line that bad boy out. I loved stunt riding. One of my best friends in active duty, Dougie Husset, he was a combat medic with me. We were just north of Mt. Pleasant and doing some stunt riding for some of our friends. I was doing a stoppie and he was supposed to wheelie by me, but I rolled too far forward and he t-boned me at 80 mph. It almost took my leg clean off. As a medic, I went down to do the evaluation and looked down and saw it. I saw the front of it and saw the bones sticking out. I thought, ‘They can have that pinned back together and be walking in a year. No big deal. Then I turned it over and saw most of it gone. I’m a Zen-Buddhist and I believe in a higher purpose and a higher power. There’s something bigger than me and that’s all I need to know. I need to be sub-servient to that and do my best to achieve that higher level. The only way I can describe it is that God reached down and touched me with pain. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s like trying to describe the color red to a man that’s been blind all of his life. Until you’ve had that you can’t understand it. My world exploded. Dougie scrambled up to me and he kept me alive for the next hour while we waited for the paramedics to show up. I owe my life to that man. For the first time in almost 20 years we’ve lost touched and he was actually at this last fight. He got to see me at my best, defending my title for the 170 belt and watched me rock and roll with Tony Montana. 9 full minutes of savage, savage fighting. That to me is the highest expression of myself.
People ask me, “Why would you cage fight?” Well I was on the army taekwondo team and I took the Korea-wide championships and it was 90 days after I left active duty that I lost my leg. There was about 30 days of just severe depression and after that I had had enough. I decided I was done and I had a pistol. I had it cocked and my parents had left the house and at the last minute I said, “No. I’m not going to die like this. If I’m going to die I’m going to die fighting. I’m not going to quit. I’m going to go out fighting.” 30 days after I lost my leg I went back to the gym. 30 days after that I started walking again. I got a prosthetic and the guy said I wouldn’t be able to walk for 6 months. I said, “No. I need to walk in 60 days. It’s going to happen.” I did. I found a guy who was willing to help me push all the boundaries I wanted. Larry Lloyd was his name. 30 days later I started looking for gyms so I could start training again. To me martial arts is just a natural return of what I’m going to do for my life. It was always my rock before and my path to a higher elevation of self, physically and emotionally. It made me a better man and so I decided to go back into martial arts. This was 1996. We didn’t have the Para-Olympics like we do today. We didn’t have advertisement so we didn’t have the billboards and there had never been a martial artist amputee before. I was at Michigan State at the time and they turned me down. They wouldn’t let me train on their teams. A bunch of teams in Lansing wouldn’t let me train even though I had taken the army wide taekwondo championship they would not let me train in taekwondo do schools. I finally found the one place in Lansing, Loredo’s Cross Trainers Sifu, which would let me train. I sat down with Loredo, Julian Loredo. I said, “I want to train here, but I have a problem. I only have one leg.” He told me, “You can train here, but you’re going to do everything that we do to the best of your ability or you can go home.” That’s exactly what I needed to hear. That’s all he asked of me. My teammates never treated me different. There was never any slack. No, “Oh he’s only got one leg take it easy on the guy.” From day one it was a hard grind, but that’s what I needed. You look at me when I walk around or when I take the cage I’m a fighter. I’m not a fighter who’s overcome a disability, I’m not a fighter who’s disabled, I’m just a fighter. It’s because of all the people I have surrounding me to help carry me along. People don’t realize, they see the guy in the cage and they’re like, “Aww man! He’s amazing! He’s a fighter”‘ but you don’t realize the teammates, the family, the girlfriend, the company that supports me. Everyone that helps to get that fighter to that one spot. It’s the whole team. It’s a family it’s not just one fighter. You can’t do this alone you have to be a whole team and you have to do it all together. So I started out by sneaking into tournaments. The kickboxing and boxing commissions banned me from Michigan completely. So we went to Chicago and in 1997 I snuck into a tournament, wore long pants and didn’t tell anybody that I was an amputee. The leg that I fight with looks like a human leg. It’s heavily padded up to make it safe. You don’t want to injure the other guy. In the third round I knocked the guy out. Then we went into the center ring and I took my leg off and held it up above my head. The entire crowd went silent. They didn’t realize. Then the whole place erupted into roars and cheers. That’s when I knew that this was my path to higher elevation. This is going to be the one I took. Sponsorship came quickly after that. I got invited to a team in Tampa and after that I ended up on Fairtex’s team in San Francisco. I’ve been able to travel the world as a fighter. I’ve lived in 3 countries. I’ve been to 13 countries and fought in 7. That’s because I didn’t give up that day. I didn’t quit and decided I wasn’t going to end my life like that. I was going to do the best I could every day. I have up days and down days. It’s a reality, we’re human. Everybody bears their own cross, but we all have to do something to get over it. That’s why I’m big into the community taking care of each other. There’s times I’m going to need to lean on my partners. There’s times when I’m going to need my partners to beat down on me real hard so I can get up to that next level. They always step up and do that for me.
Then, sometimes I need to step up and put it on them. That’s what we’re there for. You sweat for each other, you bleed for each other you, and you cry with each other. It’s a reality. The last fight I had it was a rough one. I came out of the cage and there was this 6 year old kid holding a soccer ball. Now, I’m all bloody and beat to hell. Broke my nose twice and broke my foot in the fight and I sat down and signed his soccer ball. He’s never going to look at someone with a disability the same again. For the rest of his life he’s going to remember, “I saw that dude in the cage today. There is no reason that I can’t get up and do something for myself.” People keep asking, “Why do you still fight when you’re 43?”…That’s the reason why.
I had taken 3 years off of fighting and was eating like a champ, smoking cigarettes, living the life. When I came back to Michigan and I started training in martial arts again a little bit, but I was still smoking. Then I was asked to fight in Wisconsin. I had 8 weeks to seriously train. After a week of training after every practice I’d have to walk off. I was getting sick, throwing up and couldn’t do my rounds, but I was still smoking at that time. So I thought let’s dip instead! Yea, that’s a bright idea. No I don’t want mouth cancer, that’s nasty. Well, my sister was already with A Clean Cigarette and she had 2 kids and she smoked so she decided to quit. She had tried the patch and the gum which was the same with me. The patch and the gum didn’t work for me. Even though I had tried many times to quit it didn’t work. She brought me over to the Elmwood store. I got in there and talked to Slim and got started on the product. It took about 2 weeks of still smoking to transfer completely to A Clean Cigarette. After 2 weeks I was able to switch over and now I’ve been tobacco free for over a year and half. This is the only product that’s ever worked for me! Now, I won that fight. Since I was able to train 6 weeks tobacco free I was able to win that fight in Wisconsin. I decided, “I love this Shit! I can’t retire!” Ron Deleon is now who I fight for in Lansing. We’re still having difficulties getting sanctioned in Michigan to let amputees fight. I’ve fought a lot on Indian reservations because they have their own laws, but as of right now I can’t be an official professional fighter in Michigan. Ultimately my goal is to be the first amputee to fight in the UFC. We’re getting real close after all of our efforts over the past year.
There’s more to this than just quitting tobacco. There’s getting your life back. Whatever path you’re on, it doesn’t matter if it’s martial arts, music, poetry, or art, you’re looking to elevate yourself to the highest plane. You’ve gotta hustle and grind for it but you can get there. Sometimes you need help from other people to take care of you. Lean on them once in a while, but you’ve got to fight for it. As long as you’re willing to fight for it you’re gonna get there.
I’m not willing to stop fighting. At 43 years old and a year and a half free of tobacco I’m able to be the 170 weight champion. I appreciate what you guys have done for me because you’ve helped me get to that level. I couldn’t have done it without A Clean Cigarette. Thank you!”
Again Thank You so much Ron for those words, and WTG on the belt !!!!