by Cindy Ortiz
“You were born at the wrong time. You should have been born back when there were gladiators because you are, without a doubt… a warrior.”
Master Seung O. Choi to Marcus Davis
Interviewing Marcus Davis should come with a disclaimer; “expect the unexpected.”
I touched base with my friend, Google, before I dialed the Bangor, Maine fighter and made note of some of the things I wanted to ask the kilted one. Five minutes into the interview, I tossed my notes aside, let the digital recorder do its “thang” and fell into a two hour conversation with someone who makes you feel as if you have known him for years.
Just so you know, Google didn’t reveal any of what I’m about to share with you about the “Irish Hand Grenade!” I hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as I did.
Cindy Ortiz/ Hi Marcus! Are you ready to do this thing?
Marcus Davis/ Absolutely and thanks for the interview, Cindy.
CO/ You bet. Had you not become a fighter, what do you be doing career wise?
MD/ Well actually, right out of high school I started college, but pulled out after a year. I was managing some bars, but studying veterinary medicine.
MD/ Yeah. A lot of people don’t know that… I am a geek (laughter), there’s just no way around it!
CO/ Get out of here! A “geek?”
MD/ Yeah… I’m kind of … a geek (laughter)! I think I’m a mixture… I’m not stereotypically one thing, but there are certain parts of me that are very geeky! I’ve had like 18-years of Herpetology study so… yeah, I’m a nerd (laughter)! So to answer the question, I would have probably done something that had to do with animals/animal medicine.
CO/ Oh… my… goodness! (laughter) Marcus, you DO “reek of geek!”
MD/ (laughter) I told ya!
CO/ Tell me about your family (parents, brother’s sisters, do any of them fight etc).
MD/ My mother is the stereotypical Irish mother; very tough. Childhood memories would be my mother with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, arm-wrestling neighborhood kids (laughter) and cheering me on as I was in the backyard with my Everlast or Franklin boxing gloves on from Toys-R-Us, punching neighborhood kids in the head.
My father was pretty much absent. No sisters. I have an older brother who is six years my senior and (laughter) he got me tough because that’s what being six years apart will get you (laughter) and he had the advantage until I was like 16 years-old. By then, I had about 2 years of boxing behind me and I had started taking martial arts when I was 8 years-old, so I could pretty much take care of him by then (laughter)!
My grandfather on my mothers’ side was a middleweight boxing champion. He fought in the Navy and was a Golden Gloves Champion. When he came out, he had something like 64 professional fights.
CO/ What’s your grandfather’s name?
MD/ Kenneth Thayer of Herman, Maine. Actually, it was Kenneth McGuinna but he doesn’t recognize the McGuinna side because when his father came over from Ireland, he put him up for adoption and he was adopted by the Thayer’s, so he just recognizes his Thayer side whereas I embrace my Irish heritage of the McGuinna family. Actually, both of my grandfathers boxed.
CO/ What’s your other grandfathers name?
MD/ Walter Davis Jr. He was the Welsh/Irish side of my family.
CO/ Twice divorced, correct?
CO/ How many kids?
MD/ I have three.
CO/ Do you want to share anything about your children?
MD/ Sure! I was blessed with two children in my first marriage and one in my second. My oldest daughter’s name is Monica and she’s 15 years-old. I also have a 12 year-old son named Duncan and they live with their mother in New Hampshire.
I have another daughter named Alexis; we just celebrated her fifth birthday on September 20th and she’s upstairs asleep as we speak with a touch of the flu.
CO/ Why fight? There are plenty of other sports and ways to make a living that don’t leave you with stitches and black eyes (laughter)!
MD/ I get asked that a lot. My mom has always said that as soon as I could walk, I was punching and kicking (laughter). I really believe that just as we have animal instincts to procreate, certain people are born with this instinctual absolute need to fight. I think God definitely plays a hand in creating fighters and that’s what I think I was put on this earth to do… to fight.
My teacher, who just passed away, Master Seung O. Choi, always used to say to me, “You were born at the wrong time. You should have been born back when there were gladiators because you are, without a doubt… a warrior.”
CO/ Sounds like you put a lot of thought into the “I was born to be a fighter” concept.
MD/ The reason why I do that is because I’ve literally spent a lot of time thinking about it, you know, my kids ask me about it, because my son, he was not born to be a fighter. My mother says to me, “It’s funny how everybody’s so different; your brother was this way, your son is this way, and you and your grandfather (my mom’s dad) are alot alike.”
I used to look for reasons why I was the way I am because all through school I was in fights ALL the time, and when I was eight years old, my mom finally found a place to stick me in for karate.
As soon as she could find a place that did more full contact type of fighting, which wasn’t until I was fourteen, she used to drive from Bangor, Maine an hour and forty-minutes to a place in Lewistown, Maine three times a week just so I could box and that was the only boxing place in the whole state that I could go to.
CO/ That’s three and a half hours round trip and she did that three times a week?
MD/ Yeah, and in the summer she bought me two sets of boxing gloves and I used to con the neighborhood kids into coming into my backyard (laughter) and I would thump them all the time. It kept me out of trouble, you know, ‘cause I wasn’t fighting on the streets and it was a great outlet and I already had heavy bags and all, and I just truly believe certain people are born this way and it’s an instinctual thing.
CO/ Are you psychotically competitive in most things or is it just this?
MD/ No, just this.
MD/ (laughter) Honestly… I’m not a very… like… uh…um… (laughter) like…
CO/ Macho man?
MD/ (laughter) Yeah, that’s it! Even … like when I go out and fight, if I lose… I don’t feel like… um… it just doesn’t destroy me or do things to me like I hear other fighters talk about. I look at it like I’m doing what I love to do, it’s what I’m meant to do and I just try to correct mistakes I make and try to become better fighter and just move on.
CO/ Well, your record is impressive; not “flawless,” but still very impressive.
MD/ Thanks. I don’t fight because I need to win; I fight because I have no other choice… I have to (laughter)… there’s no other choice than to get inside the cage or the ring, it doesn’t matter to me which. I’ve kick-boxed, boxed, grappled; I’ve done every fighting sport I could get my hands on, so…
CO/ Sounds like you know yourself pretty well, so let’s see what impression you think others may have of you. I’m going to give you a few names and I want you to tell me how these people would describe Marcus Davis, OK?
CO/ What would Dana White say about you, Marcus?
MD/ Oooh; let’s see. I think Dana would say (laughter) I’m a nice, polite, hard working, intelligent guy and I’m a very good boxer. Dana has always liked my boxing and was a fan of a guy named Tommy Attardo who, at the time when I fought him, was undefeated and I beat him twice, back to back, and that was one of the things that impressed Dana White.
CO/ Now, I read the interview you did with Wrestling Observer and the part where Jason (Milloff) asked you “your impression of Dana White,” and you replied with all the nicey-nice comments, I e-mailed that to Dana. He hit me back (laughter) and said, “Marcus is lying! I am VERY MEAN!”
MD/ (laughter) Ahhh! That’s funny!
CO/ What about Matt Hughes? What would he say?
MD/ You know what? I haven’t spent a lot of time with Matt. He might say I’m a great stand up guy. He knows I’m real into reading the bible. Matt and I would fall at opposite ends of the spectrum where I’m all about fighting stand up and the prevention of being taken down and he’s all about (laughter) taking ‘em down and finishing them on the ground. I think he would say I lack in the areas he feel are important.
CO/ Are you saying that Matt would feel you are a one dimensional fighter?
MD/ Yeah, I think Matt Hughes would feel I’m a one dimensional fighter and that all I am is a stand up fighter.
CO/ Do you think Matt feels you have potential?
MD/ Um… I don’t know.
CO/ To be a champion?
MD/ I do not know if Matt thinks that at all. I don’t think he probably has (laughter) a whole lot of interest. We’re teammates, I mean we both fight for Team Miletich, but that doesn’t always mean we’re going to see things the same way.
CO/ OK. What would Rich Franklin tell me about you?
MD/ (laughter) I think Rich Franklin would say I’m incredible, that I have incredible stand up, heavy hands, and that I’m very likable and very funny! Rich and I became very good friends and became really close on the show and on my exit from the show, I gave him one of my kilts; actually I gave Rich and Jorge each a kilt. We stay in touch and I plan on going there within the next couple of weeks and spending a few weeks training with Rich and Jorge.
CO/ That’s great! How would your first wife describe you?
MD/ (LAUGHTER…… and a whole lot of it!)
CO/ (laughter) What? What might she say?
MD/ OK, um… (laughter)!
CO/ (laughter) You’re gonna love me by the end of this conversation!
MD/ Yeah (laughter)… I believe my first wife would say that, uh… I am consumed by fighting and I tend to…. she would say, and I don’t agree with this, but she would say that tends to be first and other things come second. But she would say that my children absolutely adore me and… (laughter) not that I would want you to put this in the article, but….
CO/ Now if you tell me not to print something, I’m not going to. It’s fine that some things be “off the record.” Just don’t forget to tell me or (laughter) all your business will be “out in the street!”
MD/ (laughter) If you go to my daughters “myspace,” you’ll see that she actually ranks our family and she puts me as the absolute greatest and most awesome of everybody, so….
CO/ Well, why couldn’t I put that in the interview?
MD/ (laughter) I think that my children look at me as being the “fun dad” that isn’t afraid to act goofy, I do karaoke with them all the time, I dance in the middle of malls, I embarrass them……
CO/ Dad’s a retard (laughter)?!
MD/ (laughter) Yeah! I tease and flirt with their friends and stuff and we have a really good time. I enjoy acting like I’m ten!
CO/ You’re “the cool dad” is what it sounds like.
MD/ Yeah, and I think both of my exes would say that the one thing I am not is a very good disciplinarian. I think I’m just a sucker for my kids.
CO/ Are they spoiled?
MD/ I don’t know; I wouldn’t say they’re spoiled… but I would say they are all definitely loved and cherished.
CO/ What were you like when you were, say… in your early twenties?
MD/ I would say I was a bit reckless. I was managing clubs and was still in the bar scene. I was still drinking then, I don’t drink anymore.
CO/ It seems like I read somewhere you manage a bar. No more?
MD/ Not anymore. About a year ago, I managed three bars at one time and I kind of walked away from the job. It wasn’t very conducive to me wanting to be around my children. Some things had happened. Somebody had come into my bar at one point, a really big guy, and there was a physical altercation and he ended up in a coma and was in it for about ten days and that was a pretty scary situation. Before that issue was resolved, I actually got into another fight with somebody who was dealing drugs in the bar, so if things like that were going to continue to happen, it was best if I walked away from it because I just couldn’t do it anymore and I didn’t want to do it anymore.
CO/ Sounds like you were smart and made the right choice.
MD/ Yeah, I mean in that environment, things like that happen and I didn’t need to be a part of it, so now, I’m actually a loan officer and things are different.
CO/ And you have a martial arts school, too, correct?
MD/ Yes, I have a full gym and a school and I’m actually looking for a new location because we’re growing.
CO/ That’s awesome, Marcus. Sounds like you’re going to have some great things coming up when you get settled in so we’ll touch base about the expansion next time.
MD/ That would be great. I should have some details to share soon!
CO/ My final question for you tonight; when your life is over, what do you hope you will be remembered for?
MD/ You know what, Cindy? People say this all the time, but… I hope to be remembered for my accomplishments as a father and as a family man, more so than for anything I do as a fighter. The most important thing I hope to accomplish in my lifetime is to be successful in raising my children; to succeed as a father and a family man. That’s really what it’s all about… to me, anyway.
CO/ Wow… thank you, Marcus; that’s huge. Thanks for allowing me to share this part of you with others. I think it’s important for the hardcore and casual fans of the sport of MMA to understand that the warriors inside the octagon tuck children in at night, kiss their boo-boo’s and wipe the tears away, just like other fathers do from every walk of life.
Heavy hands, in this case, represent a tender heart!