This bucket list item was complete on 23rd July 2010 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
This may seem like a strange one to a lot of people but the inspiration (or what I thought was the inspiration) came from the movie The Hangover. In one of the scenes Mike Tyson, played by himself, punched out the character Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis.
Following the release of the movie, rumours began to spread about the scene. The rumour was that instead of a classic movie punch where no contact is made, Zach Galifianakis requested Mike Tyson to actually make contact because it would be an honour to be punched by one of boxing’s greats. I had heard multiple people tell me this same story and it seemed plausible enough so I never bothered to research it any further to determine whether it was actually true. At that point in my life it did not matter whether the story was true or not, it was a good story so I decided to believe it.
A few months later when I was sitting at home trying to think of life accomplishments to put on my bucket list, I remembered the story about Zach Galifianakis getting punched by Mike Tyson. I had never really been a boxing fan but during the last two years of high school the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) became popular and my group of friends got hooked on it, as did many others. This is how I came up with the idea of taking a punch from a UFC fighter. I thought it would be an honour to take a punch from a UFC fighter but also, how many people can say they have accomplished this without being a UFC fighter themselves?
When this task made it onto the list I thought it would be a long time before I would be able to cross it off. I ran several scenarios through my head of how I would be able to find myself in the presence of a UFC fighter in the future. I didn’t know how I was going to accomplish this. Part of me thought I was going to have to stalk one of them or go to a UFC event and attempt to sneak backstage and try to plea my case to them. Another part of me realised that walking up to a UFC fighter and asking them to punch me in the face would only make me appear to be insane and it would be highly unlikely that I would get the result I was looking for.
None of the scenarios I came up with seemed to have any merit but then my friend Dave reminded me about a UFC fighter by the name of TG Grant who fights out of Cole Harbour, a community in Nova Scotia within the same municipality as Halifax. TJ was the local hero when it came to the UFC and I thought it would be pretty awesome to have him help me out with this. With TJ fighting out of a local gym it made the endeavour plausible, however I still had to figure out how to arrive at the topic of him punching me in the face.
The first thing I did was look up the name of the gym he was fighting out of, Fit Plus Mixed Martial Arts, and found some contact details. The contact details were for his trainer, Scott MacLean. In July of 2010 I sent his trainer an email expressing that I was a fan of the TJ and that I would like to meet with him if he was available sometime in the future. I decided it was best not to mention my actual intentions via email, as it probably would have been answered with a resounding “No”. After a few days I received a response from his Scott, which indicated that 23 July would be the best day and that I could come by after he had finished one of his training sessions.
I arrived punctually, with my friend Kyle, a digital camera and a hard copy of my bucket list in hand. We met, shook hands and chatted about the UFC and his fighting for a while. It was great to meet him and I enjoyed that he made time for me. After a few minutes I thanked him for meeting me but told him the main reason I was here was to accomplish #50 from my buckets list. I handed him the hard copy of my list and let him read it. Without saying anything else, he said, “No, I can’t do that”.
There was hesitation in his voice, which lead me to believe we would be able to reach an agreement where he would actually punch me. I was also bold enough to ask if I could video it and take a few photos together. After a few minutes of negotiating with TJ and his Scott we agreed that we could do it but a few conditions would have to be met. We agreed that I could film it but I would have to consent to being punch by him at the start of the film. Also, to avoid injuring his hand from punching me, he was going to do it with boxing gloves on and he was not going to punch me as hard as he could. I thought this was reasonable, as I did not want him to get hurt either.
After we reached an agreement of how the whole event would take place I remember the attitude shift of TJ. The original hesitant demeanour turned into an electric one, similar to what you commonly see before these UFC fights start. He punched the palm of his hand a couple times and said, “Ok, let’s do this”. We took a few minutes to set up with TJ standing to my left side so he could hit me with his right fist. Scott informed me to relax and not to tense when he delivered the punch.
With the camera rolling and everything in place, TJ took his stance and landed a punch square on my left jaw. It was enough of a punch to get the point across but nothing that was going to harm either one of us.
After all, my goal was not to get punched so hard that I was left unconscious, it was simply to take a punch from a UFC fighter. Another one off the list.
It was only at the time of writing this blog post that I decided to find out whether the rumour about Zach Galifianakis getting punched by Mike Tyson was actually true. After many hours of searching the Internet, watching videos and reading interviews, I came to the conclusion that it was a classic movie punch after all. Part of me was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t real but the other part of me realised that had I done this research before creating the list then I never would have ended up on the journey that I did.
A big thanks to TJ and Scott for making this happen!
Have you met any UFC fighters? Do you have any good stories from meeting them? Let me know in the comments below.
Make sure to read my next post, [#50 Lesson] Don’t Show All Your Cards When Bargaining, which discusses the lesson learned by completing this item. Want to be notified when new blog posts are uploaded? Subscribe below.
Dave has been on a mission, since 2010, to cross off the 100 items on his bucket list. The stories of his adventures are complimented by life lessons learned along the way and his travel tips are unique to his experiences.