Saturday, March 13, 2010
Gerald Harris: A renaissance man with no limits
In the dictionary, the word renaissance is defined as "a renewal of life, vigor or interest". Synonyms such as 'resurgence' and 'reawakening' are also listed. All of these can be aptly applied to UFC Middleweight Gerald 'Hurricane' Harris.
At just 30 years of age, Harris has had more careers in his adult life than most have in a lifetime. Yet, what separates Gerald from most is that he's been successful at everyone, thus making you wonder just how far can this guy go? According to Gerald Harris, Hollywood is not out of the question.
I had the pleasure of meeting Gerald last summer when I made my way to Las Vegas to visit and hang with the crew of MMA Junkie Radio. Lucky me, right place at the right time, I got to hangout with Gerald while the crew of the show were interviewing Paulo Thiago. Over time, I kept in touch and he's been funny every single time. Little did I know, I was actually communicating with a Professional Comedian; I found this out when I conducted a 30 minute interview with Gerald over the phone recently.
Not your typical MMA fighter, he didn't grow up fighting in the streets or come from a tough background, but he did have a lot of competition growing up; He was one of nine children in his family. With that many brothers and sisters around, along with his parents, Gerald already had an audience at home for his uncanny sense of humor, something he's always possessed. The self-professed 'class clown' is an upbeat spirit that loves to laugh and enjoys making others do as well because his personal view is, "life is too short not to be happy". So, it was only natural that after honing his skills at home and all through high school and college, he would try his act on stage and become a professional stand up comic.
The comedy would eventually take him to the State of Florida where before long he was making a name for himself locally selling out shows in theaters and small arenas. All the while he was doing this while managing, promoting and producing his own shows himself. He was so good at comedy, he eventually got a shot at BET's talent competition 'Coming to the stage', where he would only end up losing his spot to renowned comedian 'Lil Duval'. Though he really enjoyed doing the comedy circuit, he realized it wasn't paying the bills. Thus, he moved on to the next chapter in his life, teaching.
As a high school history teacher, Gerald taught for three years, two in Florida and one in his native Oklahoma. Enjoying the teaching field, he figured this is where his life was headed until, by chance, a friend he met at a local gym while working out convinced him he should try his hand at MMA. Initially, Gerald had no interest, but when a few hundred dollars were promised, a starving teacher went for it.
That was 3 1/2 years ago and in that period Gerald Harris has won 14 out of 16 pro fights, appeared in the seventh season of 'The Ultimate Fighter Show' and personally talked Dana White into giving him a shot in the UFC. All this after biding his time and putting together a seven fight win streak in what he affectionately calls, 'The Bum Fight Circuit'. He's quick to point out that he means no disrespect when he uses this term. It's just his comedic spin on the many small, and sometimes unprofessional, promotions he's had to fight for over the years to finally make it to the big leagues. He jokes that at one weigh-in, instead of a scale they used a "teeter-totter".
Finally in the UFC, Gerald won his first fight by TKO, earning a $30,000 Knockout of the night bonus and more importantly, another fight on March 31 against grappling wizard Mario Miranda. When I asked him if his new found KO artistry will force him to try to keep the fight standing, Gerald said, "there is no plan to a fight; Too much thinking will get you in trouble". He also pointed out that when he fought BJJ practitioner Fabio Leopoldo, it was he that took the fight to the ground and more than held his own.
He also told me that his first two years; he strictly fought on raw skill and determination. It hasn't been until the last year and a half that he's actually learned how to properly train and compete professionally. Most notably he is excited to announce that he is officially a member of the renowned Greg Jackson Fight Team, dividing his training time between New Mexico, Colorado and his native Oklahoma.
With so many diverse careers so far in his life, I asked Gerald if he's given any thought as to what he may want to do when his fight career is over. Without hesitation and with much determination he said, "Acting". He says that he idolizes Jamie Foxx and uses him as an inspiration of someone that has come from a similar background to become a worldwide superstar. He has a high regard for Foxx's talent and demeanor and hopes to someday emulate his career in Hollywood. Considering he's been a success at everything he's tackled thus far, I see no limits as to where this Renaissance man can go.
I want to personally thank Gerald Harris for this interview. Gerald would like to acknowledge his sponsors: Affliction Clothing, Muscle Pharm, Brookside Tattoo and Piercing, SportsSupplement.com and Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, along with thanking his teammates @ The Grudge Training Center. For more info on Gerald Harris, check out GeraldHurricaneHarris.com.
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