CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A mixed martial artist from the Heartland is opening up about being bullied and how it lead him to pursue combat sports.
Nathan Stearns grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and said he was bullied from kindergarten through 9th grade.
Now that he is a MMA fighter, Stearns wants be a role model for others to overcome similar obstacles.
“This is coming from all of that adversity," Stearns said. "From getting bullied as a kid to ironically now fighting and making money out of it. If I can do it, you can do it.”
Stearns said bullies beat him up and teased him for having large ears, gaps in his teeth and a lisp.
When it continued for years, Stearns said he finally took action to action to stop it.
“Bullying it sucks. People want it to go away, but what they don’t realize is it all starts with you. It all starts with how you react to the bullies,” Stearns said. "You’ve got to take it upon yourself to learn whatever you need to learn to diffuse any situation you find yourself in, and for me that was Martial Arts.”
By studying wrestling, karate and Jiu Jitsu, Stearns learned how to defend himself which gave him the confidence to stand up to his tormentors.
“My former bullies message me to show me support. They show me respect. They show me love," Stearns said. "To be able to talk to other kids who were bullied. It’s going to be OK just be stronger then them. One simple thing is posturing up. Looking like you’re not weak really can help deter them from wanting to bully you in the first place.”
Stearns thinks martial arts is a good opportunity for people who are bullied but also the bullies themselves.
“There is a lot of gyms in the area," Stearns said. "Let’s just get your kid that outlet where they can get that anger and aggressiveness out in a more productive and safe manner for themselves and for other people.”
Stearns will make his professional MMA debut in his hometown during the Cage of Honor event on Nov. 2 at the A. C. Brase Arena.
“I’ve done so much work, training and growing up in this city and to do a main event here it’s just amazing,” Stearns said. “It’s not just a career milestone, it’s a life milestone.”