By Kimberly Ilkowski
Students met a UFC titleholder, the 2001 Lightweight World Champion, Jens Pulver, for a viewing of his film, “Jens Pulver: Driven,” on Thursday, Oct. 7.
The documentary follows Pulver through his demanding training schedule in anticipation for his return to the cage in a fight that could make or break his career.
He spoke candidly about the painful trials he faced as a youth dealing with a severe cycle of domestic violence. In the film, Pulver said he found solace in athletics. His only way out was attending wrestling tournaments and competing.
“Wrestling saved my life,” he said.
The film did not conclude with the happy ending everyone wanted, but he made the documentary to reveal the mental side of the sport. He emphasized that there may not always be successes in life, but it does not mean the story is not worth telling.
“Life is short, and your athletic life is even shorter. You have to ride it until the wheels fall off,” he said.
Since the movie’s release, Pulver has entered the cage again and is giving back to the community. He recently developed a kids program at the 802 MMA Gym in Kearney, Neb. to become a trainer and pass on his knowledge.
“It’s my turn to be a mentor,” he said.
Throughout the question and answer session, Pulver opened up, sharing tales from his childhood and teenage years. One story in particular sent out a powerful message to students.
Pulver held up his hand, revealing a self-done tattoo of a P between his thumb and index finger. The self-described “idiot stamp” is a testament to the choices of his youth and he often looks at it as a reminder of how far he has come in life.
“Don’t close the door on the person you can be in five years or in 10 years,” he told the crowd, many of whom wrestle for the College and are avid followers of the sport. “People think this is as bad as it’s going to be but don’t close the door! Don’t give up on the person you’re gonna become.”
Freshman psychology major Olivia Pruznick enjoyed the documentary and found Pulver’s message inspiring.
“It was really helpful to people that want to do what he does,” she said. “Everyone makes it seem like it’s bad for you, but he was able to make it feel like it’s possible.”
Pulver gave advice to a student who was having trouble with pre-match jitters.
“It’s good to be nervous, it lets you know that you want it. It lets me know that I’m alive,” he said.
Senior mechanical engineering major Mike Dimeo was surprised when he heard that Pulver would be coming to the College.
“You hear all these big names and he’s one of them. He might not think he’s famous but he’s famous to me. Seeing him was unreal,” he said.
The event concluded with students snapping photos with Pulver and speaking to him one on one. As Dimeo walked up to shake the fighter’s hand, he turned back and said, “It’s not every day you meet a legend.”