Sometimes fighting is just in your blood. Sometimes it’s a product of your upbringing and social landscape, and sometimes it’s a matter of sheer survival. For UFC featherweight Darren Elkins, it’s a little bit of each of those.
Hailing from Portage, Ind., this hometown Hoosier learned at an early age just how cruel kids can be.
“I got bullied a lot, man,” Elkins told MMAweekly.com. “I did a lot of speech classes and I got made fun of a lot because of it – called a lot of names.”
In those formative years, Elkins was faced with a common choice that many bullied children are forced to make at far too young an age — fight or flight.
“When it happened, there was only one way to shut them up, and that was with my fists a lot of the time. If you beat up enough guys, they don’t talk (expletive) to you anymore.”
For many fighters, it’s their history that fuels their path to combat sports. Take a young “Iron” Mike Tyson for instance.
As the story goes, an adolescent pigeon-loving Tyson used to have a collection of his favorite winged companions on top of a Brooklyn apartment that he would frequent after school on occasion. One day, a neighborhood bully came by and ripped the head off of one of Mike’s beloved pigeons. The young teen, then so enraged with head-numbing pain at seeing his beloved pet mangled in an act of selfish violence, proceeded to have his very first fight and beat that pigeon-murdering bully into a bloody pulp.
Point being, bullies do suck.
But sometimes, just sometimes, they create paths to greatness.
Similar to Tyson, Elkins is aware that every now and again a little bit of pain is necessary to drive you as a competitor.
“You need something that’s deep inside you – something you don’t even think about,” said the 28-year-old. “It turns into a little killer instinct ball. Wrestling kind of always gave me that escape, but I always kept feeling I was fighting a little extra.”
In fact, it’s the classic American tradition (or at least most of us think so; yes, I’m talking to you International Olympic Committee) of amateur wrestling that Elkins credits for turning him on to a more productive and fulfilling path.
“There was a lot of fighting. There are a lot of tough kids – or at least we all around here think we’re tough kids. I had a huge problem,” he proclaimed. “I got kicked out (of school) a lot. I just had to fight. Then that lead me to getting into wrestling and that kind of took over my life. I started wrestling and I just became obsessed. Competition is what I thrived on.”
Once Elkins realized his love for the mats, his life started to take a turn for the better.
“(The fighting) stopped right around middle school. My speech got better, I was really picking it up at wrestling and my brother was just about to go into high school. It was around that time that things really changed for me and I learned a lot from it. It really helped me and that’s when my focused shifted for basically the rest of my life.”
Elkins would go on to become the Indiana High School State Champion at 140 pounds his senior year of high school and would make his pro MMA debut just three short years later in 2007
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Posted By: TypeABC |
5/13/13 10:38 AM
Bullies do suck! Thanks for your story Darren
Posted By: Rainbows303 |
5/14/13 1:02 PM
The path to greatness is never easy.
Posted By: Wait4it |
5/14/13 1:38 PM
Hes been a fighter his whole life he just gets paid for it now