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Troy Lamson never has been one to choose the easy road. In fact, he’s never really had the option.
From birth, Lamson has been a fighter because of an intestinal birth defect. Lamson spent three months in the neonatal care center before he was finally allowed to go home.
Born and raised in Flint, Mich., it’s natural Lamson chose the career path that he did. One of the toughest cities in the U.S., Flint’s issues extend far beyond its nationally publicized water crisis.
A self-described troubled youth, Lamson said it was never his M.O. to be “the bully.” Being “the white kid in Flint,” Lamson was hardened by the difficulties the city presented. Unlike other poor cities who’s slang monikers are flaunted by those representing, Lamson says Flint isn’t a place many people are very proud to call home.
“Flint definitely played a big role in my upbringing in life,” Lamson told MMA Junkie. “Being a kid from Flint, nothing is given to you there. A lot of places that have stereotypes against them like that.
“People from Flint are a little bit different. Let’s say you’re from Atlanta or Stockton or Detroit, people are really outgoing to tell you, ‘Man, I’m from Detroit. My place is hood.’ I feel like Flint is not really like that. We’re reserved. Yeah, it’s a tough-ass place, but it’s not something people are really happy about like other towns are.”
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Bred into a family of boxers, it wasn’t long before Lamson was putting on the gloves. While originally rooted in wrestling, Lamson always loved the idea of professional fighting. He began fighting competitively as early as high school, taking a handful of amateur MMA bouts..
Around the time he started competing in MMA, Lamson also became interested in tattoos. When his high school history class began teaching a unit on tribal people, Lamson was fascinated by their markings. It wasn’t long before he was getting some of his own.
“We were learning about these tribal people that would go to war and they’d paint these tribal markings all over their body,” Lamson said. “They thought humans were meant for war. That was the same time that I was deciding I didn’t want to play football; I didn’t want to go to college for stuff. I wanted to be a fighter from here on out.
“… So I was like, ‘Dude, if you’re really going to pick this, you need to let yourself know you’re going to wake up everyday and you’re a warrior. That’s just what it is.’”
Despite aspirations to be a fighter, Lamson decided to put fighting on the back-burner. After all, it’s not everyday you get the opportunity to wrestle at Michigan State University like Lamson did.
“I worked out a really good plan with them, because college wrestling meant not turning pro for 4-5 years,” Lamson said. “That was a big deal for me. But there was no way I was passing up a scholarship to a Division I university. That was something I simply couldn’t do. I ended up going there, and between all of my wrestling summers when we’d have offseason, I’d start training MMA, and I’d take fights. I was 17-0 as an amateur and when I graduated, I turned pro.”
In college, Lamson began to realize his intestinal issues were a blessing in disguise. Having one third less of a lower intestine than the average person meant Lamson’s metabolism was faster than everyone else.
“Honestly, I basically hit the cheat code when I was a little kid,” Lamson said. “… My metabolism is literally stuck on fast. I remember when I hurt my hand when I was in college wrestling. All I could eat was cafeteria food and boozing and eating. I ended up losing like 6 or 7 pounds.
“People were like, ‘How the hell are you losing weight?’ I’m like, ‘Because I’m not working out.’ My dad and brother are both 6-foot, 200-and-something pounds, and I’m Mr. String Bean.”
Now 15 fights into his professional career, Lamson is on the doorstep of the UFC. On Saturday, Lamson (13-2 MMA), 27, will take on Team Alpha Male wrestling coach Alex Munoz (5-0 MMA) in a lightweight bout at Trinity Kings 8 in Honolulu. The event will stream on UFC Fight Pass and is to be featured on an upcoming episode of “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight.”
Being a 6-foot-1 lightweight with legitimate wrestling experience, Lamson sees himself as a very dangerous addition to the UFC’s 155-pound roster.
“I’m a tall, long fighter,” Lamson said. “But tell me this: When was the last time the tallest person in the division had Division I college wrestling? How do you beat a tall wrestler? You either get inside and get taken down, or you stay on the outside and try to strike with the tallest guy in your division.”
Flint’s water crisis is something that truly bothers Lamson. Despite the awareness, a lot of issues are still prevalent. Like anyone from Flint, Lamson has been touched by the issue and is fed up with the nonsense.
“I’m probably going to have cancer at 55 from that (expletive),” Lamson said. “Thankfully, I grew up in a house that had a well. But I drank the Flint city water. That’s what they served at football practice. That’s what I drank in the schools. Just because it went real bad when I was in college doesn’t mean the whole time it wasn’t in severe levels.
“I still have friends that that still directly impacts their life. They still have to go down to the water stations and get bottles of water, or they have to boil the water before they use it. I remember when it first happened, I had a fellow fighter from Flint who had a nephew or a baby that died in a bath from the water being so contaminated that the little kid actually died.”
He continued, “People are drinking that Flint River water and still, to this day, it’s just not right. It’s wild. When my career ends, I hope I can go back there to Flint and help do it right. They’ve been running that place into the ground for a minute now.”
Lamson envisions himself having a long, successful career in the UFC. In doing so, he hopes to help fix the seemingly never-ending issues in his hometown. “Pretty Boy” made it clear any help he’ll give isn’t because he has to. Flint never gave him anything, so he doesn’t feel like he has any favors to return. Anything he plans on doing is going to be done because he wants to.
“Honestly, I don’t think I owe (expletive) to Flint,” Lamson said. “Flint hasn’t done anything to me. I have respect for the city and stuff and yeah, I want to give back to it. Not because I feel like I owe it, but because it’s something you grow up with and come to respect.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to be the person who did it because they had to. I want to do it because I chose to. It definitely impacted me 100 percent. People know about Flint for a reason.”
An overachiever, a Michigan State wrestler, a top regional prospect – these aren’t the only hats Lamson wears. He’s a member of the coveted Hard Knocks 365 camp in South Florida, a friend of Rashad Evans, and a part time model. All of Lamson’s life details have primed him to become a star.
“Fans should watch me fight because, first of all, I’m an extremely good looking man,” Lamson said. “Secondly, I have the best tattoos in mixed martial arts. Thirdly, I bring a swagger to the cage that introduces itself into the fight.
“But when you see somebody, you can tell when something is fake and the game is not right. When Kobe is trying to do some stuff, you can tell some of it’s real, but some of it is fake. It’s just me – it’s just me.”
News | MMA Junkie