On Saturday, Terry Brazier debuted at Bellator MMA. But he is not afraid to receive punches.
That's because when you saw your army colleagues killed in Afghanistan or held dying children in your arms, you fight for a living, it's not that bad.
This motivation and lack of consideration for your own safety develops when the only reason you are doing your job is to guarantee your children and your wife a better education than you were when you were beaten by your alcoholic father.
And these bruises seem insignificant when you experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) every day and your work as a Pro MMA has helped eliminate suicidal thoughts.
That's why Terry will smile by entering the cage on Saturday. His knees and shoulders are already in pieces even before the fight, but he knows that he will not be beaten. Not after all that he went through.
But he has two fears: to drop his loved ones and remain anonymous in the story. He will not let any one or the other happen.
Terry prepares his breakfast while his 19-month-old son Kyng walks into the living room with a small punching bag and one boxing glove. Ghost, their lurcher dog, appears at the window but stays outside. His son-in-law, Taylor, is on the couch talking about Fortnite. Kyng ties the punching bag to the wall, then, with two quick straight hooks, tosses him to the floor and says, "Ba-BA! Ba-BA! Ba-BA!" copy the sound that he hears in Terry's gym.
Terry now needs 30 grams of oats for his breakfast, as he lost weight before Saturday's fight in Newcastle against Chris Bungard. Amy, his wife, tells how they've been married for three years, while Terry is gracing a plate of pancakes, strawberries and oats.
"I'm not nervous about the fight," says Amy. "It's just in the previous moments.You have this disgusting feeling in your belly … It's never nice to watch someone you like to get hit."
Terry interrupts: "I'm not often touched."
They returned from Terry's training camp in Thailand the day before. Kyng is out of time; Terry's sleep is usually interrupted at best because of his PTSD. As Kyng jumps on a battery motorbike, Terry remembers his education and his life as an alcoholic father. "I had the biggest physical and mental impact that shaped my life, which made it difficult," Terry said. "I shot my dad more when I was younger than in my fights, I think the first time I hit him and knocked him down, I was 13 years old.
"It was not perfect education, but it's what made me what I am today – it made me a father and a fighter. I love my children and the way I treats them finger on them. "
Terry grew up in Denham, 19 miles from central London. He had more leftovers than he could remember, under the railway bridge near his home. He takes us there and indicates the evacuation routes, now covered with overgrown foliage, which they used when the police arrived to break the clatter. "The years we spent here have shaped us," said Terry, longing for nostalgia. "I have never been beaten."
But one day, the law caught up with him and he was arrested.
Her lawyer informed her that her situation was dark and that she was likely to incur two years in prison. He was about 16 years old at the time – the dates and times are a little confused by the PTSD – and on the way to court, his mother, Debbie, promised him that he was avoiding being caught. one way or another prison, he would take care of his life. Terry nodded, not expecting to have the chance. But he was released and the next day he went to the Wembley recruiting office and joined the army.
He opted for the Irish Guards, based in Windsor, near his Denham roots, but after participating in Queen's Parades, he threw snowballs from the top of Windsor Castle – "It's like "The royals are kind, however," and were waiting in the cold as Prince Charles's helicopter landed, he wanted more and joined the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment. "It was more physical, noisier, more aggressive … a little more me," Terry said.
Terry's first visit took place in Afghanistan in 2010-2011 as part of Operation Herrick 13. He was responsible for the machine gun of his section. They endured eight months of uninterrupted contact with the enemy. On one occasion, they patrolled an enclosure containing insurgents. He was isolated and ended up emptying his last clip. When he returned to his patrol, he tried to drink in his CamelBak water can to find it empty, pierced with three bullets. He had been on the verge of being seriously injured. The backpack is now at the Imperial War Museum in London.
It was a relentless and unforgiving existence. "We had a lot of trouble losing men because of injuries and deaths, we were dealing with the local population, children blew themselves up with the trapped devices. [improvised explosive devices] left for us.
"It has happened horrible things and that have changed lives."
His commanders in the army noticed a change in him, but after being initially sent back to the Irish Guards, things continued to deteriorate. "I started having nightmares and anxiety attacks, being depressed and not wanting to put my uniform in. I was sent to the medical center and I was released for reasons for post-traumatic stress. "
We are in the middle of the morning on the day of our interview and Terry's head is crushed against the gym wall. He practices cage control and grounding, while talking to his coach and best man, Dean Amasinger, to ask him for explanations and clarifications, his training partner increasing the pressure of his forearm on the forehead. of Terry.
Amasinger then talks about the first time he's met Terry, while his student is subjected to a series of brutal sprints on the bike. It pays tribute to Terry's ability to create 100% aggression, but also his ability to adapt to technical battles and his refusal to quit. "This absence of fear is unique to high-performance fighters," said Amasinger. "Without that, you will not go far, it's so overwhelming, he knows how to stay calm."
This calm has been self-taught since his stint in the military, and now his career in the MMA, but lying between the two, was the purgatory where PTSD had taken root. He missed the structure that the army offered him, being told where to be and what to wear every moment
"Before I get my PTSD, I'll be that guy telling others to act like crazy. But it's the wound that nobody can see. The brain is complicated.
"When I was asked to leave the army, everything was bad for me.I was suicidal.I was in a poisonous relationship.The army was all that j & rsquo; I had people who respected me and recognized me because of what I had done as a corporal.It was badly difficult to be taken. found the gym. "
After eating a midday lunch consisting of chicken, sweet potatoes and a kaleidoscope of vegetables, Terry's physio, Ben Ashworth, has a deep-set thumb in his armpit.
Terry was operated on the shoulder seven months ago, after his fifth and final BAMMA battle against Rhys McKee. After that, he signed for Bellator, a new promotion of the British organization BAMMA. All this leads to Saturday and a large crowd at Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. Terry fights Bungard in second place on the main map, followed by former TV star Aaron Chalmers – the local Geordie Shore hero – at the next fight.
Terry screams sporadically as Ben locates an inflamed muscle deep in his tattooed chest. This is a canvas of swirls, emblems and Thai symbols. The names of her daughters – Ellie-Mae and Layla-Louise, from her previous relationship – are on the chest and a new one on her fist. We read "blessed", a tribute to his late mother, Debbie.
He tends to get injured before the fights, breaking a rib when warming up before his first fight with BAMMA against Issey Buangala, then tearing his shoulder in front of McKee. His knees are of bad temper after injuring ACL and MCL in his army, a few days after the malfunction of a parachute, he hit the ground far too hard. But his biggest challenge was before his fight against Alex Lohore last March, when Debbie died four days ago, after succumbing to cancer.
"When she died four days before the fight, I did not sleep Monday or Tuesday and then had to lose weight," said Terry. "It was the toughest week of my life, but I still beat Lohore. I have better performances under pressure and stress – it's the army. If you can not think and play, then you will die.
It is there that MMA intervenes. This gives him the feeling of being alive, but also the adrenaline shot that the army has provided. "MMA is my biggest coping mechanism," says Terry. "I can be self-destructive, but I see it as an energy.When I left the army, I had so much negative energy." I needed to release her and I I had the impression of having to take it to me.I do not know where would be without MMA. "
When Terry comes out in the cage on Saturday, Amy will have typed two words in his phone: "He won." It's part of the superstition, after doing it in the first professional fight that she's seen, but also on a practical level, that means she can quickly send the message to the nearest and dear Terry.
She is getting ready to sell her beauty salon business so she can travel on the road with Terry to her pre-training camps with Kyng. "I was a real bum when I met her," Terry said. Amy smiled back, after seeing Terry at his best in the cage, but also in the midst of his post-traumatic stress episodes.
When PTSD strikes, he is taken aback, grumpy, depressed, does not find funny things and anxiety keeps him awake. She now knows when to be there to challenge him, comfort him or just to give him space. She is also present when Terry experiences recurring nightmares.
"Amy was shocked," said Terry. "She had the nights when I woke up shouting, I fell asleep in my sleep and I hit her, just dressing her in. She made me wake up in hot sweats , unable to sleep – she stroked my head to make me sleep A big problem in my flashbacks is that children blow themselves up and try to save their lives. but we have learned to handle it better now. "
Terry is still angry watching the news, but he has once again been able to watch military movies. It's a new thing, just like being able to talk about PTSD. "I did not like talking about it at all, Joe Public always asking me if I had killed people … and it annoys you."
He is now recognized, at least locally, for his caged exploits. He gets the same marks of admiration and gratitude from his MMA fans, just as he did when he had worn his uniform to Windsor. "It's a nice feeling to see people saying that you're doing well, I'm training hard for my kids and for the future of my kids, so that they're not suffering." the bulls — I had to get through, so that they could get the nice things I did not have … that's my motivation. "
He does not excuse that money is a prime motivation. "I do not do it because I like to get punched in. It 'sa job and it' s putting money in the bank. The better you get, the more money you make. money, and that's why I want to be great.Do not walk around saying, "I'm the best fighter in the world." That does not mean anything unless my bank balance reproduces it. a rich and best fighter in the world. "
The three Terry BAMMA title belts are on a table in his living room, in the house that he rebuilt after buying an abandoned hull from a building. When he looks at them, he does not feel much. There is a void in his victory because he is wary of being satisfied. After his last fight against McKee, he celebrated the event by taking a packet of cookies and a cup of tea. He does not let himself go to big fights, preferring to stay in shape in case he gets an offer on short notice for another fight. After Saturday's fight against Bungard, when he wins – there is no "if" here, he already dreams of Bolognese spaghetti, cheese and garlic bread.
Kyng occasionally grabs a belt, eager to hold that shiny thing with which her father takes pictures. "It's great, a feat, but I want the Bellator title, I'm very excited for my debut on Saturday.
"From what I see, the fight is only the last 15 minutes of a chapter.You graft for eight weeks, you've reduced your weight.I get paid to gain weight and then I fight for pleasure. "
The perspective of life after MMA concerns him. He will probably devote his energy to the two real estate companies in which he has interests. For now, he devotes himself to writing his name in the history of MMA. "I do not want to die and my name dies with me, it's like a Greek god movie, I want my name to live on, I want to be a name and people remember me."
When Terry enters the cage, it's white noise. "I try to look serious, but I'm always happy to be there and do the job I like" – and when the final punch is thrown, or the opponent submits, he will go get Amy in the crowd.
Once the adrenaline has subsided, Terry will feel a sense of relief, knowing that he has not let down his family. Kyng is back in the living room and goes "Ba-BA!"
"I'm looking forward to making him proud and building a future for him, so hopefully he'll be able to follow me," said Terry.
"As you get older, your priorities change, I have now realized that by making people around me happy, it makes me happier.
"Time is the most important thing for me now – it's what became apparent after the death of the army and my mother." You do not get the time back.
"You know what, I would not change anything in my life because it's all for the positive, I'm in a good place, I would not change anything for the world."