TODD SAMP­SON IS TESTED

Herald Sun - Switched On - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW FEN­TON EN­TER­TAIN­MENT WRITER

For a man who’s never thrown a punch in his life, it was a daunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Todd Samp­son to step into a pro­fes­sional cage fight in Fe­bru­ary af­ter just two weeks’ train­ing.

The Mixed Mar­tial Arts match against Jon Sparks in New Mex­ico was filmed for Samp­son’s new se­ries, BodyHack.

“That episode doesn’t end well for me as you’d ex­pect,” laughs the Gruen reg­u­lar.

Even the train­ing was dif­fi­cult — he was knocked un­con­scious by a small Thai woman — and dur­ing the match it­self, he didn’t re­alise just how badly he’d been in­jured.

“I had so much adren­a­line that when it was over I could feel some­thing had snapped in my jaw, but I felt OK, but the next day it just sealed up,” he says. “I couldn’t eat or open my mouth for about two days ... I’m still re­cov­er­ing from a shoul­der in­jury where he slammed me into the mat.”

BodyHack blends ad­ven­ture with sci­ence as Samp­son tries to un­cover how peo­ple sur­vive in ex­tremes by “walk­ing a mile in their shoes”.

He per­forms dan­ger­ous stunts for Bol­ly­wood films, climbs at ex­treme al­ti­tude in the Hi­malayas with Sher­pas, hunts with the Hadza tribe in Tan­za­nia and free dives in Bor­neo.

It was a dan­ger­ous, in­tense and at times gru­elling pro­duc­tion that pushed him to his lim­its.

“I cried more in the mak­ing of this se­ries than I have in the last 10 years,” he says. “So many things hap­pened to me, such in­tense emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ences.”

That in­cludes when he read a con­cerned let­ter from his daugh­ter Coco the night be­fore his MMA match.

“My el­dest daugh­ter de­cided to write me a note be­cause she was a lit­tle bit wor­ried and then I got there and opened it up and yeah it re­ally … I cried.”

Learn­ing to be an MMA fighter wasn’t even the tough­est chal­lenge — Samp­son says it paled in com­par­i­son to train­ing with the French For­eign Le­gion in the Ama­zon. Within 10 min­utes of start­ing film­ing on the episode, he’d sliced both his hands open as he slid down a rope for the as­sess­ment test to join the course. “So I was bleed­ing on both hands start­ing that show,” he says.

“They just de­stroyed me, they beat me down over 10 days … That show was a true test of re­silience and I wanted to quit every day.”

TODD SAMP­SON’S BODYHACK, CHAN­NEL 10, TUES­DAY, 9PM

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