by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of the Travel Channel)
Some travel shows feature bikini-clad hostesses cavorting on exotic beaches, others temperamental chefs expounding the virtues of foreign cuisine, and yet others have hosts willing to subject themselves to some of the strangest foods out there.
Yet for all their differences, most have one commonality, the hosts for the most part would rather avoid physical confrontation. That’s where Dhani Jones of the Travel Channel’s new Monday night series “Dhani Tackles the Globe” is different.
Currently the defensive captain of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, Jones decided to take a different approach to his travel show, by stepping into regional sports headfirst, showing the kind of tenacity that has made him one of pro football’s fiercest linebackers.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to travel and to be able to play different sports,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s something not everybody gets to do, and I love doing it. I think I’m the right guy for the job and I want more people to watch and see the love of travel through the show.”
Known as a renaissance man of sorts, Jones has long shown his flare for culture and uniqueness that makes him stand out from other athletes.
Still, when the time comes to get into the fray, he doesn’t hesitate, much as he did during the show’s premier episode when he traveled to Thailand to try his hand at the country’s national sport, Muay Thai kickboxing.
“Competition is the name of the game when it comes to a sport like Muay Thai,” stated Jones. “It’s just sort of like getting used to the first punch to the face is what it takes and moving on from there. If you get hit in the face, you either back down or you rise to the challenge.
“It’s something that’s a little bit different that some people don’t realize, but you take it in stride. You get hit, you get back up and keep rolling.”
Jones says the experience, like all the sports he has tried out for the show, has helped elevate the level of his game in his chosen profession of pro football.
“I just learned how the body is completely connected,” he commented. “When you throw a punch and how it’s tied to your right hip and left big toe and your right foot, how all of it is in sync.
“Some people you see in there moving around, their bodies just seem loose and out of control, but it teaches you body control. It taught me how to become a better football player.”
Along with Muay Thai, Jones traveled to Switzerland to try Schwinging – a sort of Swiss version of Sumo – to England to participate in football’s precursor Rugby, and many other sports throughout the course of the current season.
When asked if the possibility for future seasons could include other forms of martial arts, Jones seems genuinely interested in trying everything he could.
“Any way you can keep your body in shape, stay active and become a better athlete, that’s the type of things I like to do,” he stated. “MMA, Jiu-Jitsu, Capoeira, Karate, Judo, all these different sports are fantastic sports.
“They have far more applications than just combat; they have applications of the mind, body and soul. I would love to go all over the place and try many different sports and many different levels of hand-to-hand combat.”
When asked specifically about MMA, Jones replied, “I was definitely a fan of it. I think it’s a respectable sport and one that it takes a lot ‘cojones’ to get into the ring in order to do something like that.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys and I love watching them. It’s just about time we all realize that we’re athletes, we just have different practices so to speak, and should be allowed to display those in a large format.”
For those who’d want to see Jones get in the cage sometime in the future, he admits it could be a possibility.
“If they want to see me fight, I’d love to get in. If the practices are correct and the intentions are correct,” said Jones. “Because what we’re all trying to do is learn and get better. It’s not always about who destroys or who knocks who out.
“It’s about displaying your art form – your practice – at the highest level.”
Jones is far from your average football player and far from your average travel show host, and it’s those qualities he hopes will lead to people’s continued support of his exploits in front of the camera.
“Just check out the Travel Channel for ‘Dhani Tackles the Globe’ at 9 p.m. (Eastern) Monday nights,” he concluded. “Go to your local passport agency and buy a passport, go to your local airline and buy a plane ticket and get out of the country and see the world.
“Don’t be afraid to try new challenges. The frontier is right in front of you and you’ve just got to take advantage and go see it. It can have a far greater impression on you than you can imagine.”