The journey of an aspiring fighter #57

Published On April 11, 2014 | By Helen Harper | Blog

The most common phrase that has been said to me since I started my martial arts journey is probably, “You should start believing in yourself.” Recently, I learnt that those around me believe in me more than I believe in myself!

When I first saw that The Ultimate Fighter was holding open try-outs for strawweight females, I knew I had to be there. Obviously with my recent career change to a ‘full time fighter’, this was always going to be difficult, and it wasn’t something I had anticipated.

Two of my least favourite things in the world are asking for help and asking for money. But, I have had to let go of my ego and resort to those measures to get myself to the try-outs. It’s been 100% worth it so far though. The response to my fund raising page has been unreal, and the amount of people who have supported me has been insane.

They must actually believe I have a chance to get there, and get in. This was more than I expected at the start of this process!! I wanted to name everyone who has donated to thank them from the bottom of my heart, and for everyone to know what wonderful and amazing people are out there. However, I realise that some wish to remain anonymous and that is understandable.

Instead, I just want to take the time to thank those who have helped me follow my dreams. You guys haven’t just helped me by donating money. You have helped me to believe in myself, and believe that I CAN do it. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like this is just a pipe dream. I feel like this could actually happen.

People really believe in me, and are willing to put their own hard earned cash on the line. That’s money they could use on themselves, for treats, etc., because they have earned that money. But, they chose to help me instead. I am literally speechless (which is an extremely rare occurrence if you know me personally) but I know that the amount of faith you guys have instilled in me is real, and if I put my mind to it, I CAN make it.

Not only have people been kind enough to help me financially, but they have given up their time for me as well. Most recently, the boys at Phuket Top Team, in particular Charlye Vivas, who is convinced he will make it through life without everyone knowing what an awesome guy he really is – have given up his time EVERY DAY to help little old me try and improve my Jiu Jitsu. And of course, the other guys at Phuket Top Team: Donny, Anthony, Andrew and the main man himself, Olavo! Not forgetting my Thai coach, Nit, too, who is simply amazing although he barely speaks a word of English.

While I am on the subject of thanking people, I’d like to express my gratitude to a few more amazing ones who I may not have thanked in a while, but I have far from forgotten them – and never ever will.

In order of how you first appeared in my martial arts journey: Terry Valler, for getting me involved in Jiu Jitsu in the first place despite my constant protests of, “There is no way you will see me rolling around on the floor with a load of random guys!” And look at how that turned out!

Mark Hayes, for setting my head straight when I first moved to Sheffield. I know I wasn’t the easiest student but I do appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

Monkey, for being more than just a coach to me, and like a brother. I did my first ever weight cut in Sheffield and Monkey even came in to the sauna with me, sat there listening my rants and raves about anything and everything (thank goodness it’s got easier since then!).

Eddie, for teaching me ‘small person Jiu Jitsu’ and letting me see it in action for the first time ever.

Wiktor, for giving me the confidence to roll with big guys, knowing I would handle myself well (even though I didn’t know it). Thanks for putting up with my ridiculous questions and how stupid I sounded when asking them.

Boyd, for being the first person to believe in me enough to put me on your team. If it wasn’t for Boyd, I would never have had the confidence to take on half the challenges I now face on a daily basis. Without knowing it, Boyd gave me the tools to forge my MMA career.

Olavo, where do I start? This man is practically a god in the Jiu Jitsu world. He has taught me a ridiculous amount of Jiu Jitsu, but more so the life surrounding the art. Olavo has an amazing attitude to life, and he is someone we can all learn something from.

Andy Roberts, again, where do I start? Andy pretty much took me in under his wing and allowed me to represent his gym in my first ever K-1 bout, although he knew absolutely nothing about me or whether I had any skill. I can’t even begin to thank him enough for believing in me on that occasion and continuing to do so even when I am not in the country.

Kim Root, who has been my daily source of inspiration since being back in Thailand. She has done everything from helping me organise my work out schedule, my diet, and being generally motivational. This girl deserves a medal!

My sponsors Vicious Circle and Calorie, who always support me 100% (along with my ‘almost’ sponsors Battle Balm and Pony Club Grappling Gear which are both awesome and well worth checking out). THANK YOU!!

A couple of other faces to mention, who have in particular helped with the TUF tryouts: Soa, Mario, Paul, Dave, Andrew, Juli, Arvind, Ali and of course, I am grateful to all the wonderful people who have donated to get me to Vegas (don’t worry, you will remain anonymous).

There are many more coaches, both in Jiu Jitsu and in life that have stuck by me and pushed me in the right direction when things got a little tough. Once again, I can’t thank everyone enough. If you have been a part of my life, particularly in the last 3 years, I am extremely appreciative and I love you very much.

Last but not least, I couldn’t have got through life without my amazing family who I sorely miss more than I can put into words. Mum, thank you for always putting up with your crazy, slightly odd eccentric daughter. I know you will never quite understand the whole fighting thing but the fact you support me anyway means the world to me.

Dad, thank you for always being my voice of reason. Even if you don’t agree with my lifestyle, and will never understand it, I know you just want me to be happy and I am!!!!

Sue (my step mum), I know you read my blog every week, and despite you also not really understanding the fight scene, you’re always showing your full support, and encouraging me not to give up on my dreams. Andrew (my step dad), thank you for looking after my mum when I am not there to do it. And finally my little sister Anna, who has never once read my blog in over a year but I know she still cares in a strange kind of sisterly way. We are like chalk and cheese but we will always be sisters and I will invariably love her more every single day.


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About The Author

English Mixed Martial Artist fighting out of Andy Roberts BJJ and Legacy BJJ with a pro record of 4-1.

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