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Good Role Models in MMA and Boxing

By Robert Rousseau,
On June 28, 1997, Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear in a boxing rematch. Amongst other things, this act could have been considered criminal. In fact, it was one of many situations during Tyson's lifetime where his outlandish behavior encapsulated what being a poor role model is all about.

On a lesser note - as there really are no instances of poor sportsmanship worse than the one noted above- the UFC's Tito Ortiz got his rematch with Guy Mezger at UFC 19: Ultimate Young Guns on March 5, 1999 ( after losing to the same fighter back on May 30, 1997 ). He took advantage of this, winning the fight via TKO. Unfortunately for sportsmen everywhere, Tito Ortiz put on a t-shirt that read "Gay Mezger Is My Bitch," after the fight and promptly flipped off Mezger's Lion's Den teammates. This, of course, started his well known rivalry with Ken Shamrock.

You almost hate to use Ortiz as an example since it appears he has done a lot of growing up since that time. In fact, a strong argument can be made that he has become a considerate athlete in recent years, as his stint as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 3 would seem to indicate.

That said, there was a time when he was a pretty terrible sportsman and role model.

Couple these incidents with the constant issues regarding Terrell Owens of the NFL, and the sports landscape begins to seem kind of grim. Sometimes, you have to wonder if there are any good role models left out there.

Gratefully, there are. In fact, many of these can be found in sports where being a role model is harder to pull off. You know: the kind of athletic endeavors that involve punching, kicking, and trying to choke your opponent.

Like boxing and MMA.

Thus, let's take a look at four guys you wouldn't necessarily be ashamed to have your son follow in the footsteps of at this time.

Four excellent MMA and boxing ambassadors

Randy Couture

Okay, Randy Couture beat Chuck Liddell for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Title on June 6, 2003. Then he defeated Tito Ortiz to become the Undisputed Light Heavyweight Champion. After taking on Vitor Belfort in two successive matches ( he won the second after taking a finger in the eye in the first ) Couture found himself on TUF 1 coaching against Chuck Liddell, the man he was about to take on in UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell 2.

During the show, Couture could've been talking junk to "The Iceman" the entire time. Fortunately for us all, he's not that kind of guy. In fact, neither of them said anything negative about one another during the entire show.

Liddell deserves some props for this as well.

Regardless, after getting knocked out by Liddell in their rematch, Couture once again showed the class we've all become accustomed to. In fact, he almost seemed to be happy for Liddell, citing the problems Liddell had in getting a shot at the belt from Tito Ortiz after the fight to Joe Rogan.

On February 4, 2006, Randy Couture once again tasted defeat at the hands of Chuck Liddell. Afterwards, he made no excuses before announcing his retirement from the sport. He is now a UFC Hall of Famer and as respected a person and fighter as there has ever been in MMA.

By the way, he's also coming out of retirement on March 3rd to fight Tim Sylvia for the UFC Heavyweight Title.

Randy Couture is a great role model and sportsman because he respects MMA and the people fighting in it. Enough said.

Kassim Ouma

Sometimes being able to simply persevere where others could not have is what makes someone a role model. Such is the case with Kassim Ouma.

Ouma was born in Kampala, Uganda on December 12, 1978 and lived there rather uneventfully until he was seven. It was at that time he was kidnapped and forced to serve in the National Resistance Army for the next ten years of his life.

In fact, it wasn't until he started boxing that he got a reprieve from being a soldier. Further, during a national team amateur boxing tour in the United States in 1998, Ouma used boxing to his advantage again by defecting to America where he was granted political asylum.

Starting over in a foreign land, Ouma leaned on the thing that had helped him twice before.

Boxing. Soon after, this proved to be a good move.

In May of 2002, Ouma stopped Jason Papillion in eight rounds to win the USBA Light Middleweight Crown, capping off a set of stunning achievements considering his early years.

But just when one might believe that things had finally turned the corner for Ouma, he was shot in the abdomen. Think that stopped him?

Then think again.

Ouma rattled off multiple wins after the injury before finally getting the biggest fight of his career. He took advantage, beating Verno Phillips by decision for the IBF Middleweight Championship.

You'd think that the terrible things that have happened to Ouma would have left him bitter. Not the case. In fact, it's the opposite. He's really quite thankful for what he has.

And for sure, when Ouma sits down and prays at night he is thankful for the sport of boxing.

Perseverance and strength are what put Ouma on this list. We could all learn something from him. He clearly respects the sport that saved him.

Georges St. Pierre

Okay, St. Pierre had already been submitted by Matt Hughes before they ended up on TUF 4 together as coaches ( in Hughes' case, a guest coach ). While on the show, Hughes clearly believed that he was in St. Pierre's head and was trying to stay there; it was obvious that he wanted to remind him at every given juncture that he was the UFC Welterweight Champion.

So after St. Pierre came in and dominated Hughes, taking his UFC Welterweight Championship Belt at UFC: Bad Intentions on November 18, 2006, one might have expected some, 'I told you so' kinds of comments from the Canadian. Perhaps just a little something to rub in Hughes' face. Instead, St. Pierre promised him a rematch and told him that he was the best fighter he'd ever faced.

Huh? Well, that's kind of rare.

By the way, while Georges St. Pierre was a coach on TUF 4, he was actually helping welterweight fighters that would be slated to face him if he were to beat Matt Hughes ( which again, he did ). He could've been like Rich Franklin ( another guest coach ) and played things close to the vest, avoiding coaching like the plague. Instead, he came in with the attitude that he wanted to help each fighter achieve their goals regardless of how this philosophy might impact him later.

In the end, though, St. Pierre is a great role model and ambassador of MMA for one simple reason that pervades everything he does: his humility. Everytime St. Pierre talks, he comes across as someone who is happy to be around you, not someone who thinks that you are privileged to speak to him.

Which is why he deserves placement on this list.

Jermain Taylor

On December 3, 2005, Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor defeated the legendary Bernard Hopkins for the second straight time via decision. This time, however, the decision was unanimous and clear.

Taylor had arrived. All told to date, he has accumulated a 26-0-1 record during a boxing career that boasts wins over Bernard Hopkins ( twice ) and Kassim Ouma.

Let's face it, the sport of boxing has hit some rough times; its popularity is clearly waning. That said, boxing is still an influential sport, particularly in the inner cities. That's why it's so nice to hear Taylor speak up in an HBO piece the way he did.

"I'm hoping that I can be a role model for the kids. Not the earrings, the long hair, the sagging pants, and big clothes. I think kids need a new role model."

Lucky for everyone out there hoping to teach the kids right from wrong, Taylor seems not only willing to be a role model, he seems able. After all, this is a man whose father walked out on his family when he was only five years old. Unfortunately, this is the kind of selfish act that is becoming less and less rare. What people oftentimes forget is that such a decision leaves a single mother with only one way to support her children.

She needs to work.

And that's what Taylor's mother did. While she did this, Taylor took care of his three younger sisters, changing diapers and other things that kids his age never had to do. Still, Taylor's unfortunate childhood left him with a better perspective on things. You see, the extra responsibility and early poverty that caused his family to miss so much has him knowing what's important in life- time with the people you love.

"I want my kids to know me - to know what I like, and what I don't like - to know my facial expressions. And the same way for them. I want to know the way they look when they're mad, when they're sleepy. Little things like that are part of being a dad."

Nothing else needs to be said. Jermain Taylor is a an excellent role model and sportsman because he truly understands what's important and embraces his role model status.

In sum, the world has changed a lot; thus, so have athletes. Further, bad news sells and the media is certainly buying. Oftentimes, it seems quite difficult to find sportsmen and role models competing in the professional sports world.

But they are certainly there. Randy Couture, Kassim Ouma, Georges St. Pierre, and Jermain Taylor serve as proof of this. These are special men that many of us can look up to.

Now what's better than that?

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