When an MMA fighter takes the ring it is either for money or glory. It has to be one of the two because no matter how savage a man is, it is useless if he isn't getting something out of it. But Shawn Hertel is – possibly the only – exception to this rule.
He is turning pro, but unlike others, it isn't a paycheck or a title shot he is chasing. With just six months of training under his belt, Hertel will put his body on the line to raise money for the Dandelion Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness and stop child/domestic violence.
As the charity organization's vice president, it is Hertel's responsibility to raise money. Last year, he came up with the idea to fight an MMA bout in April 2015, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. He was granted his wish, and since then he has been working hard in the gym and honing his fighting skills for his big night on April 11.
Of course, it hasn't been an easy as it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and energy to train for a MMA fight, but Hertel hasn't backed down from the challenge one bit.
"Takes its toll on the body," he admitted. "There's days I was like, ‘I'm tired. I just want to sleep.' But I keep plugging along because I know what my goal is."
If it all works out as planned, Hertel is expected to rake in around $12,000 for the Dandelion Foundation, which will then spend that money toward its overall goal of preventing child abuse.
"What we do here and with the outreach that we do at the foundation is one thing, but this is a bigger scale," he added. "This is where I can get thousands of people in one area to get that message out there."
In addition to what his organization would get out of it, Hertel has another reason to take this fight. In 2003, his 2-year-old daughter, Tylin Paige Garrymore, was beaten to death by her stepfather – a personal loss that hit him to the core.
"I like to believe that she understands where my fighting spirit comes from and she would understand," Hertel said. "She would say, ‘Yep. I'm proud of you dad. You got this.'"
MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and using it as a springboard to get some attention for a noble cause is a very good idea indeed. Of course, some would find it ironic that Hertel has chosen a "violent" sport to spread his message of nonviolence. But then these are those who haven't quite realized that MMA is just as much a sport as any other.
Meanwhile, good luck to Hertel. He is the first fighter ever to have won an MMA bout without even entering the ring.