This is a recap of my visit to Oklahoma and the Bellator fight where our sponsored fighter Ryan McCurdy fought Friday night. I left from Midway airport early Friday morning and flew into Dallas. From Dallas I drove my rental car to Thackerville, Oklahoma. The drive took about 1 1/2 hours. I flew Southwest and the flights both ways were uneventful and on time. Exactly what you want out of an airline. The attendants were professional and polite, that’s exactly what the airline wants from their team and the customers deserve. The only downfall to me flying is that I’m totally deaf in my right ear (I lost my hearing during a back surgery in 2006). So this means every time I clear my ear from the pressure of flying I fear that the process will make me lose my hearing in my only good ear. My wife thinks she has it tough now with me saying “what”–this would really affect our communication. I chose Enterprise car rental because they had the best rates and I use them a lot for my travels with Illinois Girls Wrestling Team, the car was clean and had low miles and the staff were professional and polite. So far so good. I would strongly recommend both for your travel needs.
Now for the role that True Wrestling Insider played in Ryan McCurdy’s fight. We were asked to get involved and support Ryan by sponsoring him financially. I won’t divulge the dollar amount because that’s not important to this blog. Keith Richards is True Wrestling Insider’s MMA expert and I rely heavily on Keith’s input when deciding where and whom to direct funds to. Keith highly recommended that we get involved with Ryan for several reasons. Two of the biggest reasons I will share were;
1- Ryan is young and has a strong work ethic and knows what is needed to be a great fighter and is ready and willing to put in the work. Ryan also has great athleticism and a good foundation of the basics.
2- Ryan has strong character and integrity. Ryan has no bad habits that can sometimes cause fighters and individuals trouble in the long term. In turn our risk of bad publicity down the road is minimal. Something I always take into consideration when making a business decision of this type. Ryan is well liked, has a strong fan base and is known to be a very positive influence on others. Ryan also did some wrestling. Keith knew Ryan before this and actually lost to Ryan earlier this year in the cage. Sorry Keith but it advances the story.
This combined with some other factors made us decide to help Ryan and sponsor him. The other sponsors of Ryan’s are; The Gricestrong foundation. This is a benefit set up to help Matt Grice while he recovers from his Traumatic Brain Injury. You can learn more about this in my article on this website under Houston Hero. Other sponsors are The Nathan Shinn Foundation. This is a foundation started by Brittany and Brandon Shinn and was started to help parents of severely disabled children and came about by the carelessness of a hospital nurse when caring for their son Nathan. And R1- MMA where Ryan trains.
Shortly after agreeing to sponsor Ryan, Ryan asked us to make his walk out shirts. This is something we presented to Ryan in our earlier conversations and due to our partnership with True Wrestler (National brand of apparel out of L.A., CA) this is something that we can easily do. This is something that we want to do more of with additional fighters and wrestlers. We have access to True Wrestlers creative and extremely talented graphic design department and work closely with True Wrestler in many ways and in several capacities.
Once we agreed to make the walk out shirts we only had about 12 days to design the art work, approve the mock up, make the shirts and have them shipped from California to Illinois. Not a lot of time for sure but we are wrestlers and know how to adapt, adjust and overcome. This with the freedom and trust that Ryan had in us to create and deliver allowed us the opportunity to make it happen. Within those 12 days we did sell 18 of the 38 shirts we had made. Thank you to everyone for your support. A very special thanks needs to go to Brandon Shinn for purchasing 14 of the shirts for him to distribute to some of Ryan’s fans. Thank you Brandon, that was extremely generous of you.
The walk out shirts were a huge hit. Unfortunately there were some glitches in the making of these as a couple logos were not included. We identified the problem that took place and have put measures in place to ensure that it never happens again. I returned to IL from the fights with 4 shirts of the 38. Most of them were sold and a couple were given out. During the fights, 2 bartenders working the event both said they just had to have one of the shirts. The one female bartender (Jaimee) immediately put the shirt on and took pictures with a few of us. Jaimee was a great sport and said she would wear the shirt often. The other bartender was a man that wanted the shirt so bad that he immediately ran to an ATM machine to get money to buy the shirt. The man moved so quick he didn’t even give me the chance to tell him I had a mobile credit card swiper in my pocket that works off of my cell phone. Within minutes he returned with the money and bought a shirt. This happened all night, stranger after stranger purchased these walk out shirts from us. At one point we were out of large size shirts. A fan wanted a large and Keith Richards heard him. Keith immediately took his shirt off (a large) and handed it to the man. The fan was ecstatic to have one of Ryan’s walk out shirts. As a sponsor this is exactly what you want to see. Fans excited to wear a walk out shirt that are of all different backgrounds and circles of friends so that your logo is seen by such a wide variety of people. We now have over 30 walking billboards with your company or organizations logo on it. With the great quality of apparel that True Wrestler uses I’m confident these shirts will be around for a very long time.
Keith Richards will be following up with a recap if his own in regard to Ryan’s fight and will analyze what went right, what went wrong and what’s next. Please stay tuned for that blog.
If you would like to donate to any of the above foundations, please visit;
Matt Grice Foundation- Www.facebook.com/Gricestrong
Natthan Shinn Foundation- Www.nathanshinn.org
Mike Houston, Manager True Wrestling Insider
If you like what we are doing at TWI and are interested in sponsorship or advertising opportunities, please contact Mike at Mhouston8@yahoo.com
We will be looking for wrestlers and fighters to sponsor for 2014. If you are interested please contact Mike at the above email address. Serious inquiries only.