As a US Army wrestling team member, the first-ever superfight champion of the historic HOOKnSHOOT organization, and the International Warrior Federation world tournament champion, the Iron Bear stands as one of the most pivotal, savage and brutal MMA fighters to come out of the American midwest.
In 1997 I was bouncing at a roadhouse on Stop Road in Indianapolis called Club Mark. I was doing it just for fun, since I was doing well in real estate and didn’t really need the money.
During that time I was living in a big house with just me in it, so I’d take in out-of-town fighters when they wanted to come down and train with the Indy fighters. Back then, MMA was still NHB, and it was so new that it was hard to find other fighters to train with so it wasn’t unusual for guys to travel like that.
One day I got a call from Phyllis Lee, my then-manager, who told me that she had this kid named Ryan Stout and she wanted me to show him the ropes. She said he was a good athlete who had some jiu-jitsu training, but warned me that he was also real innocent -- young kid, clean-cut, never been laid, never been drunk, you know the type. I had no idea why she thought it was safe to send a kid like that to me, but I told her to send him on by.
We arranged for him to meet me at work, and after he showed up at Club Mark we shot the s--- a little bit. But he was barely there a half-hour when this big, black guy walked in -- had to be 240 pounds, and solid -- and said, “Who’s Gary Myers?” I guess he knew my reputation from fighting on pay-per-view and overseas, but for some reason the dumb sumbitch couldn’t pick me out of the crowd.
So I walked up and said, “I’m Gary” and he said, “I wanna fight you, let’s go.” Well, I was already kinda drunk and not really feelin’ it, so I said, “I ain’t gonna fight you”. But then the guy pulled out a thick stack of cash and said he wanted a winner-take-all fight, and right away a buddy of mine pulled out a stack of his own to match it. So I said, “I still ain’t gonna do it, but I have a kid over here named Ryan who’d be happy to take you on.” (laughs) S---, the kid walked into it that night!
So the fight was on, and almost everybody in the bar crowded into the alley out back. I should mention at this point that I was far from sure that my buddy wouldn’t lose the cash he was betting, because Ryan couldn’t have weighed more than 180 and I didn’t really know if this kid could fight or not.
Ryan and the black guy squared off with me as the referee, and that big dude just started throwing Ryan all over the place. The kid was just getting rag-dolled, it was looking bad, and I finally told him, “S---, you better do somethin’, kid”. Well, shortly after that, Ryan caught that big dude in an armbar, cinched it in tight and had him squealing like a pig!
I broke it up and the dude was PISSED -- “That was f---ed up, that was bulls---” But I just said, “You screamed like a bitch and you tapped out, now shut the f--- up and give me that money!” I snatched it out of his hand and gave most of it to my friend, but also made sure to take a cut for myself and a bigger cut for Ryan who’d done all the hard work.
We went back inside and I grabbed a pitcher of Purple Hooter, a vodka/liqueur concoction that I don’t know how to make anymore. I put the pitcher and a glass in front of Ryan and got him drinkin’. Then I grabbed one of the waitresses, brought her over to his table and said, “You’re takin’ him home tonight”. Sure enough, after her shift was over, she took Ryan home and f---ed ‘im!
When Phyllis heard about what happened, she couldn’t believe it -- she sent me this poor little never-had-a-drink, never-been-f---ed kid, and a half-hour later he’s gettin’ drunk, laid, and fightin’ for money in a back alley! (laughs)
She gimme a virgin and I give her back a hellcat -- but back then, that’s what you got when you trained with the Iron Bear!