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Fighting for a good cause
Kevin Bean (at right) spars with Rich Vitala, Jr. during one of his many training sessions leading up to the Office to Octagon event on June 22 in Boston. (Photo courtesy of yeahbudphotography.com)
EAST MILTON -- Since February, Kevin Bean has been training for an upcoming mixed martial arts event in an effort to help a charity that benefits children.
Bean is one of 18 people participating in an event on Saturday, June 22 in Boston called Office to Octagon, “a physical training regimen and mixed martial arts tournament to benefit underprivileged youth in Boston. Office to Octagon Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children in Boston through structured physical activity, nutritional education services, and youth obesity prevention programs.”
The charity was started by Brendan McKee, who stated on his website, "I accepted a job in finance because I thought it was the next logical step after graduating from Amherst College. What they fail to warn you of is the weight gain, half-hearted water bubbler conversations, and deterioration of your quality of life."
"I took matters into my own hands by quitting my job and rekindling my career in the health and wellness industry. Since embarking on this journey, I have had the great fortune of speaking to and learning from some of the most highly respected individuals in the strength and conditioning industry as well as the world of MMA," he said.
"Beginning in February, 10-20 other corporate employees will train over a 12-14 week period and fight in the Octagon to raise money for charity but more importantly to find themselves in a world that continues to take so much from them. As a non-profit organization, we are creating a foundation to help resource youth athletics and youth obesity prevention programs," said McKee.
Bean, a 2001 graduate of Mountain Valley High School, has his own property management business and is part owner with his father at a Mexico laundromat and is operations manager at the Bethel Laundromat. He met McKee in 2007 through mutual friends and kept in touch.
"In November, I paid him a visit in Boston. It started as an opportunity to visit a good friend and turned into me finding a new passion for life through sport/training. It was strictly Brazilian Jiujitsu for the first couple of sessions and they literally made me sick to my stomach, actually I did vomit! It made me feel like I was letting bad energy escape me to make more room for the good energy I was being introduced to."
Bean is one of 18 who will be competing in this event, to take place at 8 p.m. in Space 57 at the Revere Hotel on the Boston Common.
"This is the first event of its kind to my knowledge. I know of lawyers, accountants, and maybe a CFO or two in there. Brendan expressed this idea to me during the November trip to Boston. I told him then I thought it was a great idea. Once he had a website active and running, I filled out an application to be a fighter," he said.
Bean did not get a call in the first couple of weeks after applying, so he assumed they found what they were looking for already. Then during the last week in February, they called and asked if he was still interested.
"'Yes!' I said and never looked back. Initially I had a close friend of mine start training with me. Our first session was a winter hike (with snow shoes) that literally led us up the shear ice face of Caribou Mountain. After taming that mountain in those conditions, I thought the training would get easier. I was wrong!" he said.
Bean said he'd seen this style of fighting for years through different television events. "I know how dangerous it is and how well prepared most of the athletes are that compete. This was the first driving factor of my training sessions. I didn't want to put myself in danger, but I really wanted to help my friends with this cause."
"I think this is a great opportunity to show people of all ages that 1: It is never too late to change what you are doing for the better, and 2: It is easier if you start living healthy early and continue it throughout your life. The beauty of this is that either path is still beneficial to the mind and body," he said.
"It made me push my limits and gave me a focus I've never had before. I found that knowing the danger of what could happen in the cage suddenly made me think 'this could happen at an ATM, the theater, or any other place that someone saw the opportunity to take something from me or worse.' Then training becomes not just for the scheduled fight but also to have a better understanding of what I am capable of doing to protect myself in any situation," noted Bean.
He added that it takes a lot more than "training" to fight. Equipment, a place to train, people to train with, time, discipline, are just a few of the things needed.
"I have a ton of respect for those trying to make a career/living of the sport. It is harder than most jobs both physically and mentally. But for as much as you may get broken down, it teaches how to draw strength when you have none left. It teaches you to get back up and try again. And it teaches you to always expect the unexpected and to prepare for and be aware of any and all situations. That is why it is called mixed martial arts."
"It isn't just one thing you have to prep for. Life throws anything and everything at us. It builds you up and breaks you down over and over again. MMA will humble even the best of its athletes at any given moment, but it will still be there for you to learn from and build yourself back up. If I know how to recognize my mistakes for what they are worth and have the patience to accept that which I cannot control. It drives me to be 'in' control of as many things as I am capable," said Bean.
As for which division to fight in, Bean said he knew he wasn't going to to fight at heavyweight where he's at a reach and height disadvantage. "I picked a realistic goal weight of 185 (he started at 215 pounds). This did a lot for my discipline and having to get on a routine diet to put good fuel in my body and limit what 'fillers' I chose wisely. Now I still hover around 180 and my goal is to fight at 170. So I am right where I want to be at the moment."
With only 10 days until the fight, he said "I am at a delicate balance where I'm trying not to over train but continue to stay strong. I'm finding it harder now to relax and heal rather than the training is itself. I have a couple of strains I'm healing currently and had a tooth get chipped last week. They are minor setbacks."
"I'm still so excited about the future of not only this fight to come but every other part of my life. Exercising and making a difference in other's lives has driven me to new levels with my own training. The rewards I get from this is knowing I motivate others as well. I'm not doing it for money or fame; I just want to pass this new knowledge on to others so that they may be able to break their funk and achieve their goals," noted Bean.
He said that this commitment to an individual sports made him realize the importance of a dedicated and willing support system (team) to help along the way.
"If I didn't have my friends at the Mexico Rec, The Academy in Portland and other strong individuals in place along the way, I might not have made it through to the event. But the path I chose the people I've met along the way and the mental capacity to deal with injuries and set backs along the way have gotten me to this point and with some luck I will be ready for June 22. I find comfort in believing that 'luck' is being prepared enough to do what needs to be done by reacting when the time presents itself and not by 'thinking' about reacting."
To make a contribution to this cause, go to https://www.fundraise.com/office-to-octagon/kevins-office-to-octagon-pag....
This is Bean's direct donation site. There is also a link on this page to buy tickets to the event.