Friday, 11 January 2019 13:05

Bible knocks out champion fighter

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Bas RuttenBas Rutten, who grew up in the Netherlands but now lives in the United States, was a champion mixed martial artist in the 1990s who went on to become heavyweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2015.

In a video made by Anthem Philly, a project of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, he describes being bullied in childhood because of his extreme eczema. Other children called him a leper, he said. The itching was fierce – he would alleviate it by repeatedly punching a tile he kept by his bed. He was expelled from several schools.
Aged 12, he went to see Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon and, inspired, he persuaded his parents to allow him to train in taekwondo. The bullying ended, he said, when he broke a bully's nose.

He was baptised and confirmed as a child but, when he was about 12, his family stopped going to church. He was not interested enough to go on his own, he said. "As a kid going to church is a kind of intimidating thing – there are all these crazy statues there looking at you and nobody's happy."

He returned to the faith after working with Catholic actor Kevin James in the wrestling comedy Here Comes the Boom. James invited Catholic speakers on set, and Rutten went along to a talk. "I got sucked in – that was it, it changed my life." He started listening to an audio version of the Bible and reading it at the same time.

The first time the Bible really changed him, he said, was when he realised he was "enslaved to drinking". He explained: "I was a heavy drinker – it stopped me from drinking. Now I've got moderation, something I never had in my life."

He was fascinated to relearn about the faith. "As soon as you start learning about [Catholicism], relearning it, you're hooked," he said.


Champion UFC fighter describes his journey to Catholicism (Catholic Herald)

Marcus Amann

Marcus Amann is Mission Projects Officer for the National Centre for Evangelisation. An adult convert, he has had a diverse career as a high school teacher and ghostwriter in the IT industry and in genre fiction.

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