To read part one of our interview with Anthony Pettis click here:
To read part two of our interview with Anthony Pettis click here:
MMA fans got to know a completely different side of Anthony Pettis and fighters in general when he appeared on the MTV series, “World of Jenks,” back in 2010. Camera crews followed Pettis around and chronicled his preparation for his bout with Danny Castillo. One of the most emotional segments of the show took place when Pettis discussed the death of his father who was murdered when he was just 16. It was one of the first times since MMA started breaking into the mainstream that we were offered a look into the heart and soul of a fighter. Fans were able to witness how close Pettis is with his mother, younger brother Sergio and head coach Duke Roufus. Since then Pettis has had a daughter of his own who is at the forefront of his mind at all times.
“In the fight game before my daughter was born I drew a lot of inspiration from my pops,” offered the BJJ purple belt. “I grew up for the most part in a single family household, my dad was pretty much in and out of my life. When he was there he was always a good dad and I always respected him. For the 16 years I had him in my life I developed a lot of him in me, a lot of what he taught me makes sense now. He’s still a big inspiration to me, before every fight I’m always at his grave talking to him. All the stuff they showed in the World of Jenks and even the UFC Countdowns is real, none of it is staged.”
“Coming in to where I’m at now, I just had a daughter. She’s a year and half old and is the joy of my life. Everything makes sense to me because of her. After fights I was going out and having fun, I was young and doing the things you think you’re supposed to be doing. Then I had my daughter and all of that changed. Every moment I have that isn’t spent training or doing some kind of business I spend it with her. She changes so much it’s crazy, I’m taking her to Disney World next week and I’m very excited about it. All week just to spend with her, no training, no phone calls, just me and her, it should be a good one!”
Showtime’s mother has always been very supportive, but has a difficult time watching him compete. The bond the Pettis boys have with their mother is very inspiring and goes along way in proving the theory that single mothers are some of the strongest people alive. Single moms often have to play the role of the father, especially when there are young boys involved.
“The way I feel about my mom is explained by the tattoo on my chest, it says “All that I am or ever will be I owe to my mother” She’s pretty much the rock of my family,” Pettis said very proudly. “After my pops died she kept us together. She spent the last of her money paying for Taekwondo classes for three boys, that’s unheard of. It’s hard to find a woman a like that, she is the rock of our family. I really respect what she has done for me.”
Last, but not least there is coach Roufus who helped fill the void of father figure, friend and many other roles. Pettis spoke glowingly of his relationship with the former kickboxing world champion. Today they have developed a bond that gets stronger and stronger in and out of the gym.
“Duke and I have so many different relationships. We’re business partners in the gym as well as in a sports bar and of course we have a coach-student relationship,” offered Pettis. “We have a big brother relationship, a father-son relationship and we have a mentor relationship. He plays so many roles in my life that it’s hard to pick one and he does them all so well. I walked into his gym as a 19-year-old kid and I really didn’t know what I was doing in life. I wanted to find something to keep me out of trouble and I just wanted to fight. I wanted to feel what it was like to be in this kind (MMA) of a fight. Taekwondo is very controlled and very different from MMA. I thought I knew everything, upon meeting him for the first time I told him I was a 3rd degree blackbelt and asked him what class I should take.”
“He told me to take the basic (White Belt) class and I told him once again that I was a 3rd degree backbelt, but he said it didn’t matter this is where everyone starts. We kind of grew on each other and he could tell I had some potential, but he was never a guy to give you too much props. He would always tell me what I was doing wrong. Even in my last fight he told me what I did wrong and it’s something I will always respect. He’s always teaching me something new, whether it’s in life or in the cage. He recently had a baby of his own and he calls me for advice! We have a very cool, close relationship, I trust him with everything. I put my career in his hands and he’s doing a great job of handling it.”
These days Pettis time is very limited and hinders him from doing something he really enjoys, teaching kids Taekwondo classes. He takes advantage of the opportunity to teach when it arises because he understands how important traditional martial arts are and how helpful they can be in molding a young child into an adult.
“I can’t do it as much as I used to and I really enjoy doing it,” Pettis stated. “I’m very good at it, I’ve been in Taekwondo since I was five and I’m a firm believer in what traditional martial arts can do for a person. My brothers and I are prime examples of it, we have been through the worst of the worst. Our dad was killed in a house robbery a block away from our home, but I think the martial arts kept us out of trouble.”
“The life skills are instilled in you as a kid and then you start developing a standup game. You’re poised to have these skills actually begin to take a presence. You’re just punching and kicking as a kid, but you’re also learning discipline, courtesy and respect. Then all of the sudden I realized it was those skills that helped me tackle all the things I went through in life. I can see it in the kids I teach and how their grades improve and they are being good at home, their parents are so happy. Just a little bit of punching and kicking along with paying attention to these kids can help change their life.”