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When I met Benson Henderson
Bostonkorea  2010-11-17, 16:45:36   
SunHee Choi
Translated by SoYeon Lee

You may not have heard of him just yet, but Benson Henderson is a Mixed Martial Artist on the rise.  You know, that cage fighting stuff.
While it was once recognized as a human cockfighting took place in someone’s backyards and bar, Mixed Martial Arts has become the fastest growing sport in the world.  The accomplished 26-year-old has already landed a world title and is ranked number 10 in the world. 

Though his job may make him seem intimidating, Benson Henderson is one of the easiest going people you will ever meet.  The past weekend Boston was blessed with the opportunity to see quality Mixed Martial Arts in action as the UFC came to town. Benson Henderson was not fighting but came days before the event to meet and greet at the UFC Expo.  We had the pleasure of getting to know this elite fighter.

Who are you?
Benson Henderson, WEC Lightweight Champion.  I am just a regular average Joe trying to live the American dream.

What is your martial arts background?
My brother and I studied TaeKwonDo.  In High school I started wrestling and by senior year I was second in the state.  I went to school in Nebraska with scholarship in wrestling.  I was not very good initially, freshman year I was 5 and 14.  It was hard, a big transition, but from junior and senior year I became a two time all American.  After I graduated, I trained Mixed Martial Arts.  I started with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing and later trained in Muay Thai.

What is your style overall?
Wreslting, because I wrestled for so long.  If i get hit or hurt I always go to wrestle.  But I want to do the best in everything. That's my goal.  I want to go to Brazil and win a jiu jitsu tournament, I want to go to California and win a Boxing Tournament, I want to go to Thailand and win a muay thai tournmanet I want to do everything everywhere. I want to be good at every single aspect, it makes great fighter when you are the best at every different aspect.

Do you feel being Korean has been a benefit to your career?
Definitely the publicity from it and having hardcore fans.  Koreans are proud people and I appreciate all the support I get from home in Washington.

How was your family initially in fighting?
Originally I was accepted to be a police man for both the Omaha and Denver police departments.  I told my mom I was going to fight instead.  She was not happy.  But when she saw how serious I was taking it, she became my number one fan.

You are a very spiritual person do you find it challenging to justify by others what you do?
In person I have not had backlash.  I have been questioned but to me it's just another sport like tennis, racketball, pingpong, soccer, it just happens to be fighting.  I understand fighting is different but to me it's just another competition.  If we were playing tick tak toe or chess I would want to demolish you.  I have a strong desire to compete and win, no matter what I am doing.  When I reply back to that question about my Faith fans seem to understand my point of view.

How did you balance being both African American and Korean growing up?  Did you feel like people unfairly associated you in any ways?
I didn't feel unfairly associated.  We grew up in a pretty poor neighborhood.  At first all our moms and Emos worked pretty hard but they are all doing better now.  It was pretty ghetto.  A lot of my friends were black and stuff but our whole family was living together in the same house, all my cousins were Korean, Half-White Half Korean or Half-Black Half Korean.

You’re known for Korean tattoos, did you pick them yourself?
I talked to my Mom about them, she was hesitant but I was going to get it anyways, so she helped me choose out the right ones.  I have strength(heem), honor(myung eh) henderson(korean) and junsah.

Is there a specific impact you are trying to have as a Fighter?
Definitely to be a role model for Christians, Koreans, African Americans, and Mixed Races.  The hardest part is I'm not perfect, we are all sinners, it's hard.  Sometimes fans will call me out, like I watched 4 movies with 1 movie ticket and 15 to 20 people write back to me that saying how unchristian I am.  Being a role model is hard, but it is something strive to be.

What is your ordinary day?
I am not an early riser.  I get to gym around 9:30.  We have two different training styles.  During fight preparation training is really strict.  I have to be on time, eat on time, everything is monitored.  When I am not in training for a fight, we loosen up.  Regardless, I am always trying to get better in everything.  I switch between different martial art disciplines in the morning practice.  Have lunch then train in the afternoon.  At 3 we have the MMA class, which we put together the different martial art disciplines together. An example would be to use a Muay Thai clinch to transition to a wrestling takedown to use my Jiu Jitsu to get a guard pass.  At night I help teach class.  I originally worked with the kids program.

Was TaeKwonDo helpful for your career?
The discipline helped me the most.  A lot of the Olympic style techniques don't translate into my Mixed Martial Arts game.  But the physical contact early on helped prepare me a lot.

Do you plan to visit Korea?
I was talking to Chan Sung Jung "the Korean Zombie" and Jung Soo, so I might be going to Korea to train at Korean Top Team.  I just want to go and train for a whole summer.

Anything else you would like to say?
Hi Omha! Mani mani saranghaeyo!  And to the Korean fans who don't know me yet, thanks for your chance to get to know me.  To those who support me thank you so much it really means a lot.
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