Champions are Made in the Mud

A couple of weeks ago I was in Dublin, Ireland; and during a free afternoon I decided to catch a cab and head to Conor McGregor’s gym/dojo – I’m a big fan. McGregor’s story is among the more inspirational in all of the professional sports right now. Four years ago he was collecting social welfare cheques… How quickly things can change.

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, Conor McGregor is the most successful UFC fighter likely of all-time; and in two weeks he will be fighting the world’s winningest boxer of all-time, Floyd Mayweather (49-0). McGregor has never fought a professional boxing match in his life. The guy has confidence like no other – and for good reason. He is the only fighter in UFC history to hold two belts in two different weight classes simultaneously. He rose up the ranks faster than anyone before, and he routinely draws in the biggest gates on record. And that’s exactly why he has this lucrative opportunity – people want to see him, plain and simple. They want to see him do the ‘next’ thing. What’s more, the guy is estimated to make $100 million for his fight with Floyd Mayweather. What a change four years can make, eh? From welfare collector to fighting for the world title.

Back to my trip to Conor McGregor’s gym in Dublin… And the point of this blog entry.

[Tweet “Champions are made in the mud… #motivation”]

I got the address for McGregor’s gym after engaging the bellman of my hotel in about a twenty-minute conversation about the UFC star… The guy is a mythical figure in Ireland. The Irish are incredibly proud of McGregor – more than Canadians are with someone like Wayne Gretzky. It’s remarkable. From the cabbie who recited Conor McGregor’s famous quote “we’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over,” to the bartender who pantomimed McGregor jumping on top the cage after beating Aldo with one punch; and the bellman who knew the address of McGregor’s gym as if it was his own house, many conversations inevitably made their way to discussing the Irish phenom.


Conor McGregor’s Humble Beginnings – Like So Many Greats

As my cab ride progressed, I noticed we were heading away from the glitzy area of Dublin I was staying and making our way to a less desirable part of town. Not bad or anything, just industrial and unremarkable – it could have been any blue collar neighborhood in the Western world – reminded me of where I grew up.

As we pulled up to the gym, I must say, it was underwhelming. It was located next to a car dealership, with a four lane highway in front and some train tracks. Aside from the massive sign of McGregor clutching UFC belts across the top of the gym, you wouldn’t have recognized it from any other dojo you or I train at. Stepping inside, I noticed a bunch of young tykes in the midst of a jiu jitsu session, and to the right a kick boxer working combinations with a trainer. Nothing fancy, just a gym, a few instructors, and some young bucks practicing various martial arts. This was where the greatest MMA fighter, perhaps of all-time, was sculpted.

Straight Blast Gym - Conor McGregor's Training Facility in Dublin, Ireland
Out front of Straight Blast Gym last month – Conor McGregor’s stomping ground in Dublin, Ireland

What am I getting at?

Champions are made in the mud. The greats didn’t start great. They weren’t born on a pedestal…

Your current environment, whether it’s in some shitty apartment on the wrong side of the tracks, or in a garage (Jobs’ and Wozniak’s first office for Apple), or some gym beside a car dealership in Dublin, is the perfect launchpad.

Stay hungry,


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