Fighters are often naturals at being teachers. It's part of the culture of MMA training to hand down what you've learned to other fighters. Some fighters, like former UFC champion Rich Franklin and TUF alumnus Gerald Harris, have taken to teaching inside the classroom. Add Strikeforce's Ben Holscher to that list, as he still teaches and coaches by day, and trains by night.
The Clovis, Calif. high school health teacher and wrestling coach will fight in his second pro bout on May 15 on Showtime, as part of the Strikeforce Challenger event. He will fight Cody Cantebury.
Until his first fight, Holscher kept his night job a secret from both the school and his students.
“Some of my students and wrestlers had known it was a hobby but, then when I had my first fight in November, that’s when they found out about it,” he said.
Luckily for Holscher, both his administration and students were supportive.
“I have a pretty good relationship with the kids. They were very excited about it,” he said. “They think it’s cool and my colleagues and principal were real supportive of it. There are always a few people that kind of question it, but you’re always going to have those.”
Students always have an incentive in watching their teacher fight. For some of the troublemakers in the crowd, it's a chance to see their teacher get punched in the face. Little do they know that their teacher is sacrificing valuable sleep time to make sure that the students are taught well.
“After training is done around 10, I may have to go home and grade papers for an hour or so, sometimes,” said Holscher. “It’s a challenge, but I was a college athlete and I grew up on a farm so time management was ingrained in me a long time ago. If I wanted to make my schedule easier, I could just take a few things off my plate, but I don’t want to do that right now.”
Franklin, a math teacher, and Harris, who taught history, both left the profession to pursue fighting full time. Holscher is unsure of his future, but is just enjoying the dual life while he can.
“Right now, I’m just enjoying the ride. I’m blessed that I have the opportunity to train with some of the top guys. Wherever this takes me, I’m going along with it and going to bust my butt. Wherever I end up in a year or 10 years, that’s where I’ll be.”