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My guest today is the MMA fighter and activist Justin Wren.
When Justin looked like he was at the top his game as an MMA fighter, on his way to dominate the Bellator heavyweight division, he walked away from it all and travelled to Africa.
He spent years in the jungle of the Congo helping the pygmy people build wells and get access to water.
To understand why Justin made this decision, you have to go back into his past as kid in Texas being bullied and being thrown out of school after school for fighting.
Justin has battled depression, addiction and a sense of purposelessness. At the height of his fighting prowess he tried to commit suicide.
What saved him was a vision of a people he had never met, the visceral calling that he must help a new family on the other side of the planet.
If this sounds crazy, don’t worry! Justin admits it can only sound bizarre to those who have not experienced it.
It turns out that his vision was correct. The pygmies of the Congo are one of the 27million slaves that still exist in the world.
One thing that strikes you about Justin is how completely absent hate is his from his heart.
You’d think a big guy who grew up dreaming of fighting in the UFC would be powered by anger and rage, but in Justin’s case it is just the opposite.
Justin harbours no anger for those who have hurt him, for the slave masters of the Congo, or even for his opponents in the Octagon.
In fact, after he contracted Malaria in 2013, he used the experience of being close to death to see the truth of what one person can really do to make a difference in the world.
(You’ll have to watch the Full Episode to get what I am talking about here!)
With a big heart comes a big vision.
Now Justin is back in the fight business. He plans to give half of all his earnings to the pygmies back in the jungle, and all of his win bonuses will go towards building more water wells.
Justin is a true warrior. As he tells me here, he used to be fighting against others, now he is fighting for others.
I pity his opponents. There is nothing more dangerous than a man fighting for something bigger than himself.
09.52 A crazy story – a movie story?
12:20 Life not worth living – Depression, alcoholism, addiction, attempted suicide.
13:44 Getting bullied.
15:09 Fighting back against people to fighting for people.
20:39 Journey towards the dream.
25:47 Justin Wren’s motivation to return to fighting.
27:08 Finding the way forward.
29:18 Justin Wren wants to fight with Kimbo Slice.
30:50 Fighting whilst using drugs.
34:31 Time out, changing priorities.
37:29 A vision – which becomes true.
42:20 Deciding how to help the Mbuti Pygmies in the Congo.
46:07 Opportunity, not charity.
49:21 Water is life.
50:52 Moving forward, making progress.
54:39 Our way versus NGOs.
59:10 Changing the Pygmy mind-set.
1:05:33 Justin Wren’s next challenge.
1:07:26 The danger of going to the Congo.
1:14:46 TED Talk – What great difference would you make if you knew you could?
1:25:01 The next five years …
1:27:04 Justin Wren’s advice to others wanting to make a difference in charities and movements.
1:30:52 Justin Wren’s advice to his 20 year old self.
1:32:23 Best advice Justin Wren ever received.
Book by Justin Wren:
Fight for the Forgotten
King Horik of The Vikings
Dwight Schrute in The Office TV Comedy
Joe Rogan Show: #337 #603 #687
The Ultimate Fighter TV Reality Show
Black Water Fever