Hello my friends. I'm giving a speech this FRiday in Collingwood, ON, about my experience with brain injury.
Here is part of the article and a link to the rest. I'll be done writing my speech soon and I will post it for you all.
This is a tough sport. Unforgiving. It's not a part time gig. Thank you to Dana and the UFC crew for continuing to make the sport as safe as possible. The more education and regulations in place, the better for everybody.
Guys like me, and many more who are probably reading this post, paved the way and learned many harsh lessons. Hopefully the next generation can grow with this sport I love, and promote safety on all levels.
Fighting acquired brain injuries
People often chalk it up to living with a fighter’s mentality — just roll with the punches. That is exactly what Gary Goodridge did, but in the end, his brain paid for it.
During his super heavyweight and mixed martial arts career, Goodridge estimates he was knocked unconscious at least 11 times, but there are “many times I have been knocked out, but still been able to perform,” he said.
“I’m a warrior,” Goodridge said. “That is my personality.”
In fact, Goodridge remembers standing up after getting knocked out, and continuing on with the fight. In many of those cases, once the match was finished, he couldn’t remember any details from those fights.
“You have no recollection of anything,” Goodridge said. “You can’t remember absolutely anything.”
It wasn’t until about two years ago when he began realizing the effects of those knockdowns. It was around that time he noticed people kept repeating things they said to him — “I’d keep forgetting this, keep forgetting that.”
Today, following a more than 80-fight career in martial arts, which saw him become a fan favourite in many parts of the world, Goodridge is battling an acquired brain injury (ABI).
“I had no idea how dangerous it was and what it was going to lead me to,” he said. “I didn’t realize anything.”
On Friday (Aug. 19), Goodridge will visit Monora Park during the second annual Headwaters Acquired Brain Injury (HABI) barbecue to share his story in an attempt to raise the public’s consciousness about ABIs.
HABI, which launched in October of 2009, operates as a grassroots community organization with a focus on providing social outlets for people with an ABI. It has since grown to include between 50 and 80 members. The group meets the first Tuesday of every month at Dufferin Child and Family Services from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
“We have a pretty large membership in the area,” explained Norman Phillips, co-chair of HABI. “In the time we have been around, we have probably connected with over 100 people in Dufferin County.”
According to Phillips, asking Goodridge to speak at the organization’s community barbecue, which takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. at Monora Park, was an obvious choice. With such a strong “pugilistic subculture” in Orangeville, Phillips said there is reason to believe large numbers of people are at risk locally.
“One of his main points in his speech is the fact that he wasn’t aware and he didn’t care that he has getting knocked out,” Phillips said. “A lot of fighters just do their thing. They just train, fight and if they get hurt they don’t really care. They don’t really realize it, they can be indifferent to the damage that they’re causing, and Gary was like that.”
Open to everyone, HABI’s second annual event will feature a toonie barbecue, activities for kids, and story time with staff at the Orangeville Public Library. DriveWise and the Orangeville police have organized a bike rodeo and inspection, which will focus on road safety, awareness and teaching riders hand signals, while Peel Halton Dufferin Acquired Brain Injury Services (PHD ABIS) will set up an information booth.
Goodridge is convinced his earlier years in kickboxing was when the majority of his brain damage occurred. A lot of the damage likely occurred as a result of him getting back into the ring too early following a concussion, he said.
“I had like three weeks in a row where I was knocked out two of the three weeks,” he said. “You built up brain injury after brain injury after brain injury by not giving it proper time to heal.
“That’s not to say that if you were to give it time to heal, then it was going to go away,” he noted.