Alex White is fighting tomorrow night at UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller. However that may not be the hardest thing White will go through in his life. The undefeated fighter spoke with USA Today about how drinking gasoline and being bullied ultimately motivated White.
“I didn’t know someone drank all (the juice) and that my dad decided to pour gasoline in it while he was messing with the carburetor,” White tells USA TODAY Sports. “I took that jug and drank out of it. Next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital. They said it would be a miracle if I survived the night.”
White survived the incident, and with a speech impediment from damaged vocal cords he became the victim of bullying, along with his two older brothers.
“Me and my brothers were walking, and all of a sudden these guys pulled up in a car and picked a fight with my biggest brother,” White says. “Me and my other brother tried to help, and the other guys just held us back. We watched him get beat up, and ever since then I wanted to get strong enough to do something.”
He took his passion to Destruction MMA where coach Joe Worden saw White’s talent.
“He was a very shy kid — didn’t talk much because of the speech impediment,” Worden says. “He started working out, and I noticed he was actually a pretty good athlete. He had natural ability.”
Finally with a passion and an outlet, things were looking good for White, however his parents were moving, and White decided to stay behind to train with Worden.
“It was a gut feeling to stay,” White says. “I was homeless for a couple days. My neighbors kind of took me in for a little bit, and then I eventually got a place of my own.”
Prior to that however he ended up staying with his coach, Joe Worden and his wife Erica. Erica even gave him a job delivering medical supplies for her company.
“Joe and I are the kind of people that we take people in,” Erica Worden says. “(Alex is) a very sweet kid and a genuine person. He would give you the shirt off his back even if it were the very last thing that he had. To see a person like that struggle, that’s very hard.”
“His mental toughness is on another level,” Worden says. “Alex can out-tough half of the featherweight division right now, just pure out-tough them. Mentally, he doesn’t get rattled.”
“It’d be really easy for him to be angry,” White’s friend Eric Thompson says. “He’s taken a lot of negatives and turned it into something positive. He really went through these things and persevered. The UFC really needs a guy like that.”
“I’m a small-town boy, and I’m kind of a role model,” White says. “If I can overcome everything, other kids can also. I can’t let them down. It’s not just me losing; a loss would be them losing. I can’t have that.”