Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Rachel Spohn Interview
I wanted to do an interview with the wife of a fighter. A good fighter has a good support system, and who is a bigger supporter than the wife? I wanted people to see what it's like to have to watch your husband fighting and what it's like outside of the cage. So I asked the wife of NAAFS Light Heavyweight champion Dan Spohn, Rachel Spohn. I asked Rachel because she is so supportive of him and his goals, and I knew she would be good doing an interview.
Q: Can you just begin by telling how long you have been with Dan?
A: Well we've been married now for almost five years, but we've known each other for a very long time. We met in Martial Arts actually. It's kind of funny, we trained together for a long time and it was strictly professional and it just ended up with circumstances.... and here we are.
Q: You said you met him through Martial Arts. Do you still train with him now?
A: Yes. We both started in Cambridge Martial Arts where he is a third degree black belt and I am a second degree brown belt. I have had to take a lot of time off due to having kids and stuff like that. I finally got back into training and am trying to get my black. It's hard, life gets in the way, but I am trying to stay the course.
Q: Do you work with him at all when he is training for a fight?
A: Sometimes, but ya know he's at the level now where he needs better people. I'm nowhere near the level he is so he pretty much does his training with the guys at Buckeye and Rick Franklin and Jorge Gurgel and stuff. He actually helps me more than anything now cause he is a lot more advanced than I am.
Q: Do you have any plans to ever want to fight?
A: Ya know that's so funny. I get asked a lot and everybody thinks I am a fighter when we go to the fights and a lot of times I am mistaken for a fighter. But I just honestly don't see it happening, mainly because I have kids. It's kind of one or the other, I can't very well have both of us getting injured and doing the rigorous training schedule. The other part is, I don't even know if I even want to. I like my face the way it is, some of those girls are pretty dang tough. I enjoy Martial Arts and I do it for health and self defense and stuff like that. More of a spiritual thing, but you never know.
Q: Obviously training for a fight takes a lot of time and work. Does you actually training yourself make it easier for you to understand than a lot of people?
A: I think so. We joke a lot that if he was married to anyone else he would be getting divorced. It's just crazy the amount of time, this is what he does full time now. He works construction on the side and doing whatever he can do but MMA is his main goal and he is throwing everything into it. It is really hard but I do understand a little bit more cause I am familiar with it and I have been with him from the beginning. I know if he wants to be the best he's got to train ya know.
Q: Is it hard, for example the John Hawk fight, where it's five rounds of beating the hell out of each other, to watch that?
A: Yes. I'm not going to lie, that's been the worst one so far. I'm usually pretty good at keeping my cool, I've even cornered a couple of his fights. I can kind of shut it off, if you wanna call it that, and be professional. But it's getting to the point I think where I'm not very good at that anymore. Him and John Hawk had an all out war. I just don't want him to get hurt, we got these little kids, so it is hard to watch, but I know he takes care of himself and comes in prepared, so that's the only comfort.
Q: Is it safe to say that MMA wise, that fight is when you have so far been most proud of what he's accomplished?
A: Umm... yeah probably cause that's been his main goal since he turned pro. He wanted to get the light heavyweight title. He's had his eyes set on it, he never wavered, and I mean, I'm really proud of him and glad he accomplished his goal. He wanted to finish the fight so he was really disappointed in that, but a unanimous decision, you can't complain about that. I'm really proud of him.
Q: In that fight, Hawk had the big cheering section. After a fight like that where Dan wins is it hard to not look at those people and say "take that"?
A: Haha. Not really. We have a pretty good relationship with John Hawk and every other person he has fought. There's not a lot of people that don't like Dan. I mean, we don't have hard feelings, we know he has a big fan base. It was kind of a feeling of satisfaction that he's always the underdog and always beats the person. Don't get me wrong, there is a big satisfaction in watching him do that and prove people wrong. But no, we don't have any ill will towards the other guy or his fans.
Q: I always say there are three kinds of fighters. Ones who talk trash, ones who talk just to sell fights, or ones who show respect. Dan is one of the ones who always shows respect. Outside of fighting is that just how he is?
A: Absolutely. He is soft spoken, respectful type person. Always opens doors for girls, his momma raised him well you might say. You never would know he's a fighter. We kind of joke about it cause a lot of fighters have a certain look and wear certain kinds of clothes, and Dan just doesn't really fit in, he's your average person, but that's what makes him special. He isn't in it for the fame or glory, he just likes to fight.
Q: Outside of his fights are you a fan of the sport?
A: Yeah. I wasn't too familiar till he got into MMA. Now I really enjoy it. We've been able to go to a few fights where he isn't fighting and sit ringside and it's exciting. I like it a lot. I enjoy watching the ground fighting and Jiu-Jitsu because I know what's going on better than the average female spectator.
Q: Are there any fighters you enjoy watching?
A: Let's see. Brian Rogers, he's awesome, always like to watch the Predator. There's a lot of great fighters out there. I like watching explosive ones who make it fun. I think Dan's one of those fighters to which is funny because he's a third degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and no one would ever know that because he's always swinging those fists. It makes it fun and that's why I like Brian Rogers and think he's gonna go far because fans like to watch guys like him.
Q: I told you when I did this I wanted to interview a wife of a fighter so people could see what it's like. I picked you because you are one of the more supportive ones. Do you make a conscious effort to do that or does it come naturally?
A: A little bit of both I guess. I naturally support him because I love him and want him to be happy and all that. But I'm not gonna lie, there are hard moments. Got a family to support and at this level of the game MMA doesn't pay very well as everyone knows, compared to other sports. There's a lot of pressure. We got three little boys and he has a daughter, so he's got a lot of pressure on him to provide for us. I'm a stay at home mom cause I don't have help with the kids, so it all falls on him, and that's the only pat that is stressful. But he keeps telling me it will pay off in the end, and I believe him, because he works harder than anybody I've ever known. My main thing is if it doesn't work out, that's fine, at least he can say he gave it his all, and he can't look back and say "I quit because of my wife and kids held me back". I want him to feel like I supported his dream and I'm there with him one hundred percent. If it doesn't work out, fine, he can go get a real job like every other normal person. But might as well give it a shot, we're only young once.
Q: Being where you are, NAAFS shows are usually far away. Do you ever wish there would be one closer to you guys?
A: We live in Columbus and are from Cambridge. It would be nice as far as ability to sell tickets, but other than that I don't think.... in some ways it's bad because you have a lot of pressure. Home town guys, its great they have a lot of people come watch them, but then they also have a lot of pressure. Dan doesn't have that. People just boo him half the time when he comes out haha. I think he is a little more relaxed. It doesn't really bother me, I'm originally from the Akron area so I know there is a little more MMA based things out there. It would help us to sell tickets if we could get a show in Columbus because he trains with a lot of guys here and that's already helpful.
Q: If some girl came to you and said she was considering marrying a fighter, what advice would you give her?
A: Wow! It's kind of hard to give advice because like I said Dan is not your average fighter. I hate to lump fighters into a group because there are lot of great guys who are fighters, but there's also a lot of guys you wouldn't really call family material haha. I hate to say that, but I guess if it was a nice guy and like Dan is, my best advice, I hate to say it is hold off on having kids until you see where the fighting is gonna go because it's a lot of added stress. I wouldn't give my kids up for anything, I love them more than anything in the world, but that's probably what I would tell a younger couple. Especially now that he's getting bigger, it's getting busy, he's traveling, he's gonna be traveling out to Vegas for the Strikeforce fight that Jorge is gonna be fighting in. I mean, it's one thing after another, so it would be a little better on somebody if they were a little less attached, but I think Dan does a pretty good job balancing family and work.
Q; Before we finish anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: Well I guess I would like to thank my mother-in-law Joan Spohn. We could not do this without her. She is the main support system we have behind us. Always watches our kids, always there for us. Everybody who is behind us. There are a lot of nay sayers, there's a lot of people looking at him like he's not gonna make it, not doing the right things. I really appreciate the people who back him up who know what a good person he is and know he's doing it for the right reasons.