IN JANUARY 2011 I WAS working at a place called Shark Club in Richmond, BC. I always worked inside because I was by far the smallest bouncer there -- all the other guys were big football players and things like that. I got the job because of my MMA credentials, and also because my size and my ability to get along with almost anyone made me non-threatening and effective in getting people out without violence.
The crowd we got in that place was mostly Indian guys, and so was our bouncing crew, so there was usually some history between our bouncers and guys who came into the club. That meant trouble, and so did the fact that some of our guys had gotten to like the power of their job, and might have been starting to press it too much with the customers.
One night, just two weeks before I was scheduled to fight for the Canadian title, the Shark Club manager put me on the front door because he had just canned the guys who usually worked there for always getting into fights.
It was a UFC night so it got packed quick, and soon the lineup out front was pretty long. Still, I saw no signs of trouble, and I didn’t think much of it when, at around 11 o’clock, an Indian guy stepped out of the line and casually walked to the front. A lot of people did that to ask how long the wait was going to be, and sure enough that’s what this guy did, too. But the question was barely out of his mouth when he suddenly pulled out a can of bear mace and sprayed it directly into my eyes and mouth!
That stuff is really strong and the spray caught a lot of people at the front of the line as well, so within a few seconds we were all suffering pretty bad. My first reaction was to run after the guy, but I only got a few steps before the stuff kicked in and made my eyes swell up and my lungs shut down. Soon I was totally blind and could barely breathe.
I felt my way back into the coat check area just inside the door, and then collapsed to the floor and pretty much passed out. By this point, the Mace had drifted through to the dance floor all the way at the other side of the club, and people were literally puking so they had to shut the entire club down. While all of that was going on, I had to stay by myself in the coat check because the space was so confined that anyone who came in there to help me would be affected.
The fire department eventually showed up, and a couple of firefighters came in and led me to the back kitchen where they stripped me down to my underwear because the mace was in my clothes. I was still completely blind and had no idea what was going on. Then they put me in the deep freezer, and told me that it was because the cold would keep my pores shut and keep too much of the Mace from getting into my system. Now I was not only in pain but also freezing, it was BRUTAL. I was shivering and shaking so violently, it was like a seizure. My body didn’t know what was going on -- I was heated up on the inside from the Mace, but absolutely freezing on the outside, and I still couldn’t see or get hardly any air in my lungs.
Then the firefighters did the stupidest thing possible and started spraying me down with water. You’re not supposed to do that with bear spray, it’s actually one of the worst things you can do. You’re supposed to use milk, but they obviously didn’t know that, and so my skin, eyes and mouth just kept burning.
They eventually told me that there was nothing more they could do and that I just had to wait it out, and it took about three hours before I finally got to the point where I could see and breathe again. Just brutal.
My problems didn’t end that night, because when you get maced, some of it collects in your system and it stays there even after the effects go away. So the next day when I went to the gym, I got on the treadmill and started sweating and the Mace all started coming out. Suddenly I was burning and leaking [the mace] into the air around me all over again.
A few days later, we finally figured out that one of the fired doormen had pissed somebody off, and that person sent the dude who maced me to retaliate. They must have just told him to “get the brown guy at the front door”, and with me being the only one who fit that description, I got the retaliation. It’s the only thing that makes sense, because I never had any trouble with anybody in that place. I never gave anybody a reason to come after me.
The attack really messed with my head. I was really paranoid after that, to the point that I didn’t trust groups of Indian people being around me anymore. Any time I was in a place with a heavy Indian population I’d get really nervous, wondering if I was gonna have the same type of thing happen again. I even kept the security camera footage of the attack on my phone, and kept watching it over and over as a way to force myself to get over it.
Eventually, I more or less did, and in spite of what happened I walked into the cage two weeks later and went five hard rounds to win the Canadian featherweight title.