UFC fighter Justin Wren “The Big Pygmy” shares why the person with the most reasons to win usually does. He also shares his message of redemption and empowerment while sharing about the personal struggles he went through in route to finding the vision for his life.
Have you ever struggled to find the vision for your life? Do you ever thought, okay, now that I make it a bunch of money, what’s the real purpose? What today’s guest UFC fighter Justin wren has also asked the same questions and he’s actually been at the top of his sport. And now on today’s show, Justin Wren joins us today to share why the person with the most reasons to win usually ducks. He also shares his message every dimension and empower while sharing about the personal struggles that he’s had to fight through in order to ultimately find the vision that he now has for his life. Ladies and gentlemen, this interview today blew my mind. I know you’re going to love Justin wren. Grab a pen and a pad. It is time to get into the lab. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ve ever found yourself searching for addition where it purpose for your life, this is the show that you need to hear. Sam shows don’t need a celebrity in a writer to introduce the show. This show dot. Two man, eight kids, Koch created by two different women, 13 mode time million dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the thrive time show.
All right. Thrive nation on today’s show, we are interviewing Justin wren
Justin wren, welcome onto the show. How are you sir?
They end up doing great. Thank you so much for having me. This is a awesome opportunity to be on with you.
Well, Justin, I want to ask you to kind of share with the listeners out there, some people are super familiar with your career and some of our entrepreneurs, uh, aren’t, uh, could you share with us what the world of professional mixed martial arts is all about? I mean, how did you first get involved in this?
Well, actually I found the sport of mixed martial arts, uh, earing a year in school. That was probably the, the most that I had gotten bullied growing up. And so I grew up getting it actually pretty heavily bullied. Sat at the lunch table by myself a lot of times. Gets tossed it in the back of the head with food or chocolate milk statewides or, or, or people cis as they walked by. And so when I found MMA, the sport of mixed martial arts, um, I fell in love with it. Oh. But first I thought, these guys don’t get bullied. And so I was initially drew in because of that thought. These guys don’t get bullied. And then I fell in love with the chess match of it, which mixed martial arts combines the, the Olympic sports, those Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling, judo, taekwondo, the Olympic style of boxing that brings in kickboxing from Thailand’s Boy Thai camp brings in Jujitsu from both Brazil and Japan. So it’s just this melting pot of all these martial arts from around the world. And to me it’s like a human chess match. So I fell in love with it because of that.
How old were you when you first got involved or an MMA or some sort of martial arts?
Yeah, I still doubt about MMA when I was 13 years old. Um, but at that time it wasn’t, it wasn’t a real well known sports. And, um, I think John Mccain was calling it human cockfighting at the time. And so I, my parents weren’t very fond of it. And then I started the sport of wrestling at 15 years old. So I started wrestling at 15. Um, I had two Olympic gold medalists that, where my high school coaches. Um, so it was really blessed, blessed by that. And um, the guy took quick. So they made me a 10 time state champion and a five time all American two time national champion wrestling. I transferred out of high school to the Olympic Training Center. Um, and then I started fighting shortly after that is about a year after being at the OTC and wrestling. I had an injury. Um, and then with that injury I thought and haven’t even got to do the support that I did. I love, my childhood dream was to be a fighter. So I jumped right into it at 19 years old.
Yeah. I think the youngest guy I’ve ever fired was 28 years old. Um, and uh, I was 19 years old, whatever. I started fighting. So I was on a reality TV show when I was 21. Um, the ultimate fighter TV show. They were looking at me for some of the people view fights. I was kind of a young gun in the sport, but, but honestly I didn’t handle it very well. Um, I fell into a life of addiction that was a basically a depressed drunk drug addict for several years.
You were talking about, uh, battling a lot of addictions. Could you share with the listeners the low point in what kind of addictions that you were? Again, I don’t want to ask you something. You’re not, I want to paint you into a corner. You’re asking me about what kind of addictions, where you are you battling at that time.
So it was a big addition to drinking, but mainly it was, it was oxycontin and Oxycodone, the time release and the quick release opiates. And so I broke my elbow at this located at a tour of the ordinary collateral ligament and I had to get a attendant, had to replace my ligaments in my hamstring ligament from my hamstrings, sorry, attended for my hamster was put into the ligament where my elbow was. And so, um, it was, uh, it was a tough injury. And from that I got hooked on the pills. Um, and four months waiting for surgery, um, got hooked on pills. It only take like six or seven days to get addicted to. Um, and then after that it just spiraled into where I would piggyback anything and everything. Um, so lots of, lots of different drugs, um, and normally all at one time. So I would just, once I wasn’t sober, whatever was around, that’s what I would take. So, but, but mainly it was the pills.
Was there other injuries where you go?
There’s, there’s been, there’s been plenty of injuries, but that one was probably, that one is probably the worst of them. It took me out for over a year. Um, and it, it took me longer than that with the addiction that took place and coming to a low point to where I was so low that, uh, um, I went on an eight week drug binge where I was a missing person. My Mom and dad couldn’t find me and my girlfriend at the time couldn’t find me and my best friend and roommate couldn’t find me for eight full weeks. Um, and it, it got to the point to where my best friend left me a voicemail and said, I can’t believe you missed my wedding. Um, I can’t believe my best man didn’t show up. And so I was basically that far gone to where, um, I was just, this is a thing and it says hurt people, hurt people. And I was definitely one of those guys that couldn’t help but other people. Um, so even the people that love me the most in that, it never hurt me, only loved me. I couldn’t help it to hurt them. So I was in a very, very dark place.
I heard you say God found you at the very bottom of the pit and then he showed you the way out of it. If the listeners out there that aren’t familiar with, with, uh, what you mean by, by God, do you call God a specific name and what do you mean that the God foundry at the bottom?
I just say that for me, I wasn’t religious at all and I still would say that, uh, that I’m not a religious guy, but for me, for me personally or religion for God has never worked. But a relationship with God transformed my life. And so, um, that’s, that’s what I say is that a relationship with God, like a real, actual, tangible, just got to want to love you and I want to love people. And, and, and basically that’s, that’s the foundation that it’s all built on is love God, love people and love yourself to sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do is I was always okay at 11 people. Um, but it was, it’s been the hardest challenge for me to love myself. And so, um, uh, I think that God, God is good and he created us to love people. And so my faith, I’m a Christian. Um, and that has, has transformed my life
right away. The red flags go up and go kind of a thought. I think some people have that song, not everybody, but some people have that thought. You talking about a relationship and it as much as you can. I would love for you to describe what that relationship means. Are you talking to God throughout the day? Are you, do you feel you hear a voice? Do you have a feeling? Is it like a compass that points you in the right way morally? What does that relationship look like?
It can be different every day. It can be, I like to, to wake up and start with worship music. I like to pray more conversational. It’s not just talking at God. It’s actually also taking some time and listening and it can be listening to his, for his voice to worship or through reading the Bible. But, but really I think it happens a lot of times for me just throughout the day, like little, little smiles or winks. You’re there, Hey, I’m on the right path and just feel like, hey, I need to go out of my way and do something kind for somebody else and just having confirmation throughout the day that I’m supposed to do it. For me, the craziest thing was, um, you know, I, I was a year into my faith and about 11 months into my face and other months sober, and, uh, I decided to say a prayer.
God, what do you want me to do with my life? And I know I can sound crazy. I know I can sound nuts. And honestly, I felt like I might have been crazy for about three days actually for probably three weeks until this kind of thing happened. And Kim true, it can sound nuts and I only to take too much time on it, but, uh, uh, and this is something that I really don’t even share that much, but I’m a, I said a prayer, God, what do you want me to do with my life? And I said that prayer and I got lit up with a vision and the vision can sound nuts. It can sound crazy. And I know that. And I’ve said that like three or four times already because I felt crazy. Um, I saw myself in the rain forest and I was walking down this forest and the split path I heard drumming in, I heard singing.
And as I broke into this clearing in the rain forest and met these people, and, uh, the first guy I met had his ribs poking out and I knew that he was sick and it was costing, I knew there was hungry and thirsty and I kind of observed these people and I didn’t need her interact and talk with them, but I saw them and I knew that their hungry, thirsty, poor, sick, um, oppressed. I knew that they were enslaved, that they literally called somebody else master. Um, and then I came out of this vision and literally cry. I’ve never cried before in my life. So he’s people, I didn’t know who they were. I didn’t know where they were. And so for three days I felt crazy. Um, and I doubted, I have some sort of mental break or some sort of digest and I experimented with psychedelics and all sorts of stuff.
But, um, I said a prayer, I got an answer. And, uh, it was very confusing to me. Three days later I meet this missionary guy and killed as well, like humanitarian that just wanted to make a difference in the world. And whenever I told Caleb Division, I told them in detail and I said that in division, the biggest thing I got was that these people felt forgotten. And whenever I said forgotten, he goes, man, if there’s anyone in this world that’s forgotten, it’s the booty. Pygmies. And I was like, who? He said, they’re in the Congo. And I was like, where? I didn’t know where the Congo was. And uh, Caleb said he had been there before he was going back again. And in that he wanted me to go with them. He said, look, if God gave You a vision, if you go out though.
And so I thought that sounded kind of nuts and crazy. He told me that the rebels to go to the airport we’re flying into, he told me the dangers of Congo and in how the pygmies were literally being raped and killed and hunted and literally, um, even eaten. And the United Nations has confirmed it. But these people had been cannibalized and he said, if you go with me, I’ll go to, and I was like, I don’t know about that. So anyways, uh, three and a half weeks later, sorry, I’m making this story kind of a rambling rant,
interested and intrigued by your story. So you have the floor go as long as you want.
Oh, well thank you. And uh, and this story is something that normally split shares. He pulled something out of me that, uh, that are normally a bit timid with sharing. Put, uh, put me in three and a half weeks go by, killed and I go to the Congo and killed them again. And Colin came with us. They both new division and we land on her or grass runway. We get out, I’m walking, we drive, we get to this clearing in the forest and we get out and they say here or no, we get to a path in the forest. And they said, there you go. That’s where the pickings are. We start this hike and as we get closer we hear this drumming. And as we get closer, we hear the singing. And as we get into the village and meet this clearing, the first guy we meet has tuberculosis.
He’s sick and he’s coughing. Um, and, and in everything in that vision, like Caleb’s grabbing my shorter, Colin’s got him, he said, this is your vision. This is, this comes true. And I remember just falling down and do like a squatting position and being like, oh my gosh, what is this? And uh, and why, why am I here? Who are these people? And what I didn’t know is that this would be the start of what I started an initiative. We started called fight for the forgotten to chief pulled us to the side and he said, look, everyone else called us the forest people, but we call ourselves the forgotten. And whenever he said, forgotten, something resonated in me, I think I started to tear up and cry right there with them. I’m not, I think I know I did and I’m in me. And it just, it transformed my life.
So, so sometimes whenever there’s wild and crazy things happening and, and for me it comes down to my personal faith and, and can I, I think, um, for, for, for our faith to be trusted, it needs to be tested. And so for me, I, I had this wild experience. It was a vision. I felt like a crazy man. I didn’t even want to tell people division. I finally told the one person, he knew exactly who the people were. We went, it came true. So much so that the people even call themselves forgotten, which I told the people killed and colon, like, these are the forgotten people. And so that moment is something I can’t really truly explain except for it’s, it was a god moment in my life and it came true. And, uh, from there, my faith has been tested and I know I can trust it because it’s just led me on a path to, I think I’m where I’m supposed to be in life.
Justin here for a second, there’s a Steve jobs quote. Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently, they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do. And I’d also like to introduce the listeners to a phrase called vocation, which means your calling and everybody out there. Once you find your calling, is it life Awesome Justin? Once you know that you’re doing what you were called to do, like it’s not just a job anymore, it’s like this is what I’m supposed to do.
Yeah. And I thought against people, but really I was supposed to fight for people and that mission driven life or that calling, that purpose to fight for people to live, to love and to fight for people. That has changed everything for me to know that, hey, today, am I living my life to fight for another person, to give them a voice, to defend the weak, to love. They love to empower the voiceless. Like what can I do today to add value to this world, to my country, to this community, to my neighbor, to my wife? How can I make a difference in how can I invest my life, my time into something of meaning and value and purpose. And that to me has been contagious. It’s something that’s drawing me in. It’s something that’s transformed my life the way that I live in. It’s something that’s changed the lens that I view the world through. And so I love that Steve jobs quote you just, you just quoted and man, I think it’s, it’s true ones that think they can will change the world.
I I, my understanding is that when you decided to step back in the ring, you decided to make every dollar from your win bonus after you, when a, when a flight to go back to the pygmy people. I, is that correct? And then what’s kind of your mindset as you’re training for your fights?
Yeah, like a show amount in a win a medal for me and my family. We keep the show notes for us and then when I win and I get a win bonus, they get to give that away. So that’s been something highly motivating for me even getting ready for this next fight. You know, we have some projects and initiatives that we want to do both for the pygmy people in Congo and Uganda where we work, but also here state side for bullying prevention fight sort of reactions now expanded our mission, um, from, from only the pygmies in the Congo to also making a difference here in our own communities and schools and neighborhoods when it comes to bullying. And so yeah, when I fight and I, when it matters, it means something. And that’s I think a lot of athletes, pro athletes. No, you watched the Olympics in, you’ll see the champion on the podium, the one that won the gold medal, so that he did it in memory of his mother or in memory of his grandmother, or he did it for this purpose.
This, because this reason, this person, I think high performers are always trying to raise the bar and add necessity to the reason they need to win. I think the person with the most reasons usually wins. And so I’m just adding that Bart need going back into fighting as, uh, as a former addict and, and uh, in just not having that purpose. I needed to have, have a higher purpose because beforehand I had a reason to use win or loose. If I won, I could, I wanted to celebrate all the hard work that it took and dedication it took to get there. If I lost, I wanted to do a race to the last six months it took to get ready for that fight. Um, and so to have a reason bigger than myself going into the cage, it just adds fired. That’s fuel. I cite these, uh, maybe I used to get nervous. Um, but really I get excited. Like I feel like there’s a fire in my belly or a fire in my bones, a fire in my heart, uh, to get in there, into perform well because when I do, we get to give that away and it gets to make a difference. And so, um, it’s been something that for me personally has helped keep me grounded, help keep me focused in, to help keep me motivated
actually at that moment. Or are you so much adrenaline going through your, your veins at that point that you don’t experience the pain until later or what’s that feel like when you’re in that fight?
Yeah, I think normally the fights or the plane’s delayed until after the fight. Maybe it’s right when the bell is over that then you start filling it with a Trillin’s done. You might feel a steam here or there from a punch and might be like, Ooh, that was a good one. Um, but really you’re not thinking or focused on the pain at all during the fight. So maybe if there’s an injury, I’m not hurt, but an injury you would feel it, but really the punches and submissions and stuff like that, that’s more, that’s more hurting than an injury.
Could you tell us about when your next fight is and what website you’d want to direct all of our listeners to go to learn more about you and the causes that you are now getting behind with your fighting career?
Sure. Yeah. I would say to anyone that wants to find out more, our hub is kind of fight for the forgotten at work on that website, www dot fight for the forgotten tot work. We have some videos and we have some information there. People can follow me on social media. It’s at the big picture and that’s something that the pygmies, they gave me a name, uh, [inaudible] and uh, in my fighting and he used to be liking, but now it’s just, we put them on boom, translated, which is the big picnic and yeah, the big picnic. Um, so the average height for the pygmies is four foot seven. Wow. And I’m six foot three to 60, so I’m kind of distinct vanilla gorilla tape guy walking into the forest. Um, and yeah, fighting a, I hope I side around the summertime. We’re talking mid July now. Um, and might be potentially at Winstar Casino, which is on the border of Dallas or sorry, Texas in Oklahoma.
How many more years do you plan on fighting for this? How many more years do you anticipate?
I think your kids fight for another good side of years. I could cite even longer than that. So I’m 31 now. Heavyweights, you know, the heavyweight main event that happened just a couple of weeks ago, it was a 38 year old and a 40 year old and they were heavyweights. Heavyweights have a little bit longer to site. Uh, then, then some of the little guys speed normally disappears faster than like strength and power and kind of heavyweights are more of the, uh, the power and strength kind of guys. And they fight later in their careers. There’s been guys that have fought for the world championship at the highest level at 46 years old, at 42 years old. So I’ve still got some time on me, but, uh, I want to go out on a good note. I want to raise as much awareness, raise as much funding as I can for the cause and go out hopefully on a high note. So I’m pursuing right now to Bellator heavyweight championship. I want to be the world champion in Bella tour, which is the competitor of the UFC. I really liked their products. Their organization kind of sets themselves apart. We’re trying for the fighters. It’s better for more competition and more fight leagues out there than just one. So, um, yeah, it’s kind of my fight career.
Now my final question is, has there been a specific mentor that’s made the most impact in your life or a specific book outside of the Bible? I’m going to, I’m going to take the Bible as one of them. You said that’s a book recommendation. Is there another, a book or a specific mentor that’s made the most impact in your life?
Sure. Um, there’s been, there’s been a lot of them, but I’ll go with, there’s been a few key ones. Yeah. But one of the few key ones, cause a guy that’s been a guest on your podcast, his name is Craig Rochelle Pastor, and he’s a phenomenal leadership coach and he’s built an incredible organization, I think the largest church in America. And it’s, uh, it’s, but that’s not what he’s about. He’s about it being a bunch of small churches that meet in many locations impact the most amount of lives. And so, um, he’s got a lot of great books out there. One of them is this new one called hope in the dark. And then he also introduced me to another author just by having them at the church. And he had a book, he’s a pastor named Jensen Franklin and Jensen Franklin had a book that’s called love, like you’ve never been hurt. And so those two books that have been really great for me right now is hope in the dark and then love, like you’ve never been hurt.
Right. As we’re doing this show to Andrew’s going to be purchasing a copy of your book. Fight for the forgotten how he mixed martial artists, stopped fighting for himself and started fighting for others. Andrew’s going to buy one on the uh, right now. He’s Andrew, are you? Are you? Are you hitting? He looks, he looks like he’s hitting the buy button. Here you are. You hitting the buy button right now. He’s hitting the buy button right now. It is confirmed. We have purchased the book and I know the listeners out there, if you want to cheer for somebody who’s truly fighting for the forgotten purchase, a copy of Justin’s book, fight for the forgotten how he mixed martial artists, stopped fighting for himself and started fighting for others to day on Amazon or wherever great books are sold. Justin wren, thank you so much for being on today’s show, my friend.
Hey, thank you so much for having me.
I look forward to never getting in the ring with you. I look forward to never disagreeing with you in person. I look forward to meeting you in person. Some days were weren’t in Tulsa. And, and you are an Oklahoma as well, right? You’re an Oklahoma.
Yeah man. I’ll come out and give you us.
All right man. Awesome. Well, hey, good luck with your career, my friend and thank you for fighting for the forgotten.
Hey, thank you so much.
Take care. I appreciate the fact that Justin wren was very candid with, with you and I and I, I would like to follow suit, but also being very candid with you, uh, because you listen to this show on a, on a maybe a daily basis or a monthly basis, or maybe it’s your first time listening to the show and we talk a lot about the f six goals, setting goals for your faith, your family, your finances, your fitness, your friendship, and your fun. And I will tell you, thrive nation, I will tell you mister thriver, Mrs Thriver, I am very intentional about my goals. I have all my goals written down. Uh, yes I do. I have my goals written down, but this is where a lot of times we lose, we lose the momentum. I would say step number one, definitely write down your goals. Definitely take the time.
Invest the time right now to write down your goals for your faith, your family, your finances, your fitness, your friendship, and your fun. But now let’s go to the next level. Let’s, let’s be a doer of the word and not just a hearer of the word, right? Bb. A dewar. Well, what does it mean to be a doer? Um, well, in a biblical sense, if you’re looking at James One 22 through 25 from the Bible, it reads, but be doers of the word and not hearers only. Deceiving yourselves. What? Yeah, he says, but be doers of the what of the word. And not hearers only. Deceiving yourselves. The point is you need to take action, right? You got to take action. So the next step, step two, once you have your goals written down, is you have to schedule time into your actual calendar for the doing of those action items.
Because if you don’t schedule time to do it by default, you won’t find time. You’re going to drift. You’re gonna get busy, you’re going to get a social media update, you’re going to get an e mail, you’re going to get a piece of mail in your mailbox. You’re going to get a cold call, you’re going to get an interruption. There’s going to be a family reunion. There’s going to be a birthday party you’re invited to. There’ll be a wedding you’re invited to. And everybody that I have spent significant amounts of time with, everybody I’ve had on the show who is a what I would consider to be super successful, whether that be financially or in their career, in some aspect, they become masters of saying, no. You’ve got to say no to grow. So step one, define those goals. Write those goals down today. Step two, scheduled time for the doing of those goals. Put it in your calendar. And three say no and say no. Often you’ve got to say no to grow. And now without any further ado, frank.