Monday, June 28, 2010

A Stitch in time is all you need


In the sports of MMA and boxing, there are some interesting and popular figures to say the least. Fighters such as Georges St. Pierre and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. are celebrities at the highest level. The same can be said for notables such as Dana White and Don King, whose personalities have made them as big as the fighters they promote. Then there is 'Stitch' Duran; he doesn't fight and he doesn't promote yet he's known and beloved worldwide by sports fans everywhere. What does this humble man do that makes him so popular? He preps fighters before they go into battle and more importantly, he patches them up and keeps them going when a Stitch in time is all they need.

Jacob Duran, or 'Stitch' as he is more commonly known, is easily the most recognizable and popular cutman in the world of MMA and boxing. An expert in his chosen field of endeavor, he has successfully turned cotton swabs and Vaseline into an art form that has transcended outside the cage and ring. There's so much to this success story; his life is being chronicled in a book to be released in the fall. I was lucky enough to talk to the man recently about this and so much more.

A son of Mexican immigrants, Stitch was born and grew up in Central Valley, California. Oddly enough, his original love of sport was not in the combat arts, but rather another passion within the Hispanic community, baseball. It was his dream to play baseball for a living, but when he got older and realized the dream wouldn't become reality, he joined the Air Force, which took him to Thailand in 1974. Little did he know the cultural exchange he was about to experience would change his life forever?

While stationed there he discovered kickboxing and was so fascinated, he decided he had to learn for himself. He studied a combination of Taekwondo and Thai Boxing for the duration of his stay and when he returned to the states he continued his training while a student @ Oakland-Alameda Community College and then his own school. Inevitably he trained and worked with such fighters as former legendary World Champion Dennis Alexio and another fighter named Dave Rooney. It was Rooney who gave Stitch his nickname. According to Stitch, Rooney had a small cut above his eye and working with just a piece of tape, he closed it up so nicely Rooney took one look and said "you're so good I don't need any stitches."

Stitch was now on a new path, but he yearned to know more. So he started researching and reading everything he could about the human anatomy, first aid and most importantly coagulation; that is the process by which blood forms clots. This knowledge along with techniques he's picked up over the year's proved the difference between being just another working cutman to working with boxing world champions and becoming one of the official cutmen for the UFC.

With the growth of the sport of MMA and the UFC, Stitch's popularity has grown as well. So much so, he's made wrapping hands and working cuts something people aspire to do. There is one problem though, while most athletic commissions require a license, they do not require formal training or certification. When asked about this Stitch said, "this is a problem, which is why I have begun to initiate programs to educate commissions including a video presentation I have produced."

He's also produced a documentary entitled 'Boxer's Nightmare', which focuses on the many pitfalls, including finances, that befalls fighters once their careers are over. Unfortunately, to this point it has fallen on deaf ears because "the powers that be, which are the one's making money on the fighters don't want it to interfere with their business."

Not settling for working in the biggest MMA organization in the world or with boxing champions such as the Klitschko brothers and Andre Ward, Stitch also has other business ventures. He has his own signature clothing line, has starred in movies and TV shows and is sponsored by another major clothing line and energy drink. He is creating his own line of cutman equipment and has a biography entitled 'From the Fields to the Garden: The Life of Stitch Duran' set for release in late September. Stitch said, "part of the book signing tour will take place around UFC events where I will have appearances at the local sports bars after the Friday weigh-ins."

To truly understand how popular this humble giant has become is summed up in the following story. The wife of a U.S. Marine stationed in Afghanistan bought the Signature Stitch Duran Tapout shirt for her husband. She contacted Stitch to tell him how much her husband and his fellow Marines loved the shirt and it's saying, 'Listo Para La Guerra', which is Spanish meaning 'Ready for War'. Stitch was so moved by this, he decided he wanted to send shirts for the entire unit. When he brought it to the attention of the guys at Tapout, they volunteered to ship the shirts, thus 50 shirts were immediately sent out. Here is a photo Stitch received from the Marine Sargent that he is extremely proud of; it is our nations finest all wearing their signature Stitch Duran shirts:

Tapout

A devoted family man, when I asked Stitch how his family feels about his chosen profession he said, "They love it; they all know the ins and outs of being a cutman." When asked if his wife follows boxing or MMA his response was, "she watches the fights more closely than I do. She tells me when the cutmen are doing something wrong."

For a fighter, the cutman doing something wrong in their corner can mean the difference between a win and a loss. That's why more often than not, whether it's stateside or overseas, if either the UFC or a major boxing event is taking place, chances are Stitch Duran is working a fighter's corner. Why? Because when it comes to closing a cut, slowing down swelling or keeping a fighter calm in moments of desperation, a Stitch in time is all you need.

I want to thank Jacob 'Stitch' Duran for granting me this interview; it was a personal honor.

Stitch would like to thank his sponsors Tapout and Xyience



2 comments:

  1. Sam, as you can see from my facebook pics with Stitch Duran. the Man is truely humble in person, and before i got the honor of sitting ringside at a UFC FIGHT NIGHT event in Charlotte, NC i thought that they would be all uptight. but to my surprise this man Stitch Duran was respectful, a comedian, and an all around great person. This article had me glued to learn more of what is behind the man. Great Article.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome Sam. Stitch is a great guy and his experience in combat sports is never ending. I'm the one who worked with him on his book and I appreciate you spending time talking to him. He's got a ton of great stories!

    Zac

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