TRAINED TO DOM­I­NATE

Dis­cover how fight su­per­star Bobby Lash­ley dom­i­nates both in the ring and in life.

Innovate Magazine - - Contents - By Dean Maier & Clarence Paller

Step into the ring with heavy­weight wrestler and MMA fighter, Bobby Lash­ley, AKA “The Dom­i­na­tor,” and it will be­come clear that he has earned his nick­name. Weigh­ing in at 239 pounds of mus­cle and stand­ing tall at 6’3, he is an ab­so­lute force to be reck­oned with. Lash­ley’s trail of ac­co­lades spans across the WWE, TNA and Bel­la­tor, in­clud­ing a dev­as­tat­ing 15 - 2 record in Bel­la­tor with 5 fights won by TKO. Power, agility, drive and ded­i­ca­tion are just a few traits that can be at­trib­uted to Bobby. But even for such a man, the road to glory is paved in the blood, sweat and tears needed to over­come both the gru­elling de­mands of the sport and its fierce com­peti­tors.

In the words of Ben­jamin Franklin, “By fail­ing to pre­pare, you are pre­par­ing to fail”. For Bobby, an adamant pas­sion for train­ing hard is some­thing that was in­stilled in him early on, and part of what got him to where he is, but this isn’t the only rea­son for his suc­cess. The dis­tinct con­fi­dence and energy he ex­udes comes from an un­der­stand­ing of what it truly means to be the best. Lash­ley’s con­stant push to evolve and adapt isn’t just about his ca­reer, it’s about the drive to mas­ter the many chal­lenges both in and out­side of the ring – the will to dom­i­nate.

THE HEART OF A CON­QUEROR

Bobby’s ath­letic jour­ney be­gan with am­a­teur wrestling in high school and col­lege. Though Lash­ley’s first love was foot­ball, he was phys­i­cally small in his early days so it was dif­fi­cult to com­pete in the sport. Re­fus­ing to be dis­cour­aged by his lim­i­ta­tions, he turned to wrestling and in a month he was hooked. Wrestling helped to level the play­ing field be­cause he could go up against peo­ple his own size and beat them through his raw tal­ent and sheer force of will. “It came nat­u­rally to me” says Lash­ley.

Com­ing from a low-in­come, work­ing class fam­ily, Bobby didn’t have much grow­ing up. De­spite a lack of ma­te­rial re­sources, a be­lief that he had the drive to suc­ceed was enough. “I hated it at the time. Not hav­ing things work­ing in the house, no hot wa­ter, noth­ing to eat. Grow­ing up I al­ways told my­self, if I work hard, I won’t have to put up with this any­more.” He con­tin­ued his

push into the world of grap­pling which even­tu­ally led him to the Olympic Train­ing Cen­ter for Wrestling. His time here greatly am­pli­fied his abil­i­ties and ul­ti­mately pro­pelled him into the first ma­jor break­through of his ca­reer, the WWE. The train­ing and con­di­tion­ing it took to get Lash­ley to this point was im­mense, and is defini­tively the source of is in­cred­i­ble ath­letic work ethic.

FAST AND FU­RI­OUS TRAIN­ING

Ac­cel­er­ated and con­stantly evolv­ing is the na­ture of Lash­ley’s ap­proach to train­ing. This was es­pe­cially true in the early days of his ca­reer. “Be­fore

I’d work­out 18 times a day and kill my­self do­ing it. I used to train like a mad man. I had an in­tense regime. I would wake up ev­ery day and do my 5 am weight train­ing and af­ter that do drills at noon and then come back at three or four pm for train­ing again. Then at night I’d hit car­dio. I ac­com­plished a lot, but I was tak­ing it to the ex­treme,” says Bobby. The essence of his vig­or­ous rou­tine is that of a man work­ing like he won’t have a sec­ond chance, yet it is this very “can do” ap­proach which en­abled him to later tran­si­tion into the world of MMA.

For a man that com­petes in both pro­fes­sional MMA and wrestling, Bobby claims he tries to slow things down a bit these days; “I’m [an] older ath­lete so I don’t want to break my body com­pletely down. Say­ing that, I still need to get the work in. I do strength and con­di­tion­ing three times a week. In the morn­ing, it is more ath­letic and ex­plo­sive train­ing and lift­ing. Dur­ing the day I try to get a boxing ses­sion in to work through fight tac­tics.” To sup­port his fo­cused train­ing regime, Bobby re­lies on sup­ple­ments to help pro­vide re­cov­ery and nu­tri­tion. He proudly states, “I love Nutrabolics prod­ucts, I train so hard where I de­plete my­self so Ath­letes Food is per­fect for me. It is a blend of carbs and pro­teins that also re­plen­ishes my glu­cose.” Re­gard­less of the care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion that goes into Lash­ley’s work­out and diet sched­ule, he has thrived in his later years by learn­ing to train and fight smarter rather than just harder. This con­nec­tion be­tween be­ing both pow­er­ful and ver­sa­tile gives him his con­fi­dent edge.

MAS­TER­ING ADAP­TA­TION

With the wis­dom of one who un­der­stands the cor­re­la­tion be­tween cir­cum­stances, ac­tions and out­comes, Bobby views strength train­ing not just as phys­i­cal “fit­ness”, but a di­rect link to his fight con­di­tion­ing. “You have to train with the fight in mind. You can’t just [ran­domly lift weights]. Your strength train­ing is con­di­tion­ing; it can’t be sep­a­rate. My trainer is very good at push­ing my lim­its and al­low­ing me to cre­ate more stop and go power. That’s what you need in fights. It is all about go­ing for a minute and stop­ping, then re­peat­ing. He who can re­cover quicker will be more dom­i­nant to­wards the end of in the fight. This style of train­ing doesn’t lend it­self to one name, I fol­low this prin­ci­ple in ev­ery form of train­ing from HIIT, to in­ter­val to CrossFit etc.” Un­der­stand­ing and cre­at­ing syn­ergy be­tween his train­ing and fight­ing rep­re­sents a unique form of adapt­abil­ity for Bobby. It is why he re­mains as ef­fec­tive as he is.

At its core, the key to Bobby’s dom­i­nance in the ring is un­der­stand­ing con­text while pos­sess­ing the flex­i­bil­ity to per­ceive sit­u­a­tions, the skill to mod­ify tac­tics, and the raw will to over­come. “In a fight you need to be able to ad­just to your op­po­nent over the rounds in or­der to beat them. Bobby’s adap­tive na­ture de­rives both in his ex­plo­sive train­ing and in his pow­er­ful wrestling skill-set. In a fight, grap­pling is al­ways in Bobby’s back pocket, he says, “it’s a damn good ‘go to’ when a fight is go­ing side­ways.” His fa­vorite sub­mis­sion – the rear naked choke – is telling of his will to over­power his op­po­nents. “When you get this move on an­other fighter it is be­cause you have ap­plied so much pres­sure and on them, and they are try­ing to get away from you. The per­son is re­treat­ing”, ex­plains Lash­ley.

MENTAL SUPREMACY

Be­yond pos­sess­ing the dy­namic skillset to out-play and out-power his com­peti­tors, part of Lash­ley’s con­fi­dence also de­rives from his com­fort with the spot­light of big pub­lic sports plat­forms like the WWE or Bel­la­tor.

When Bobby steps into the oc­tagon with a mil­lion peo­ple watching, he feels an ex­treme calm take over. “I feel like I am in my zone. I can slow down or speed up time. I can choose how I ex­pe­ri­ence

that mo­ment. I fight be­cause I en­joy the com­pe­ti­tion. I go out there and just ex­pe­ri­ence it.” Where the epic spec­ta­cle of a fight would be daunt­ing to some, Bobby’s ca­sual at­ti­tude to­wards it gives him an in­cred­i­ble re­silience and mental ad­van­tage.

Fight­ing al­ways comes with its share of mental set­backs and chal­lenges, par­tic­u­larly in terms of the psy­chol­ogy of loss. A mental tool Bobby uses is to tell him­self re­peat­edly, “I am big­ger than that.” Even in the face of ad­ver­sity, such as a loss, Bobby ex­plains, “it is about re­demp­tion. I tell my­self, I can’t go out like that. I am bet­ter. I am stronger. Some peo­ple break and don’t come back, but I have never been like that. Al­ways re­mem­ber, a set­back is a set up for a come­back. When you are hun­gry you go hard and a loss is a shake up to make you hun­gry again.”

TAMING THE BEAST

The mon­ster that is the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try poses its own threat to ath­letes sus­cep­ti­ble to fall vic­tim to its habits and dis­con­nected iden­ti­ties. Ev- ery ath­lete has their niche which is am­pli­fied by the spot light and mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, but when ath­letes in­vest so heav­ily into fab­ri­cated egos un­der the un­for­giv­ing na­ture of pub­lic opin­ion, it can de­rail their en­tire ca­reer. Bobby notes, “A lot of guys de­stroy their brand, but I get it. I will stay suc­cess­ful, have fun, and be pos­i­tive all the way through the process.” From the pub­lic­ity to the so­cial me­dia and trash talk, Lash­ley un­der­stands it’s all part of the pack­age. He does not al­low it to weigh on his mind or lose fo­cus on the big­ger pic­ture.

Part of how Bobby re­mains dy­namic in his abil­ity to over­come the chal­lenges of sports en­ter­tain­ment is not by try­ing to put on fa­cades, but by own­ing his iden­tity. The foun­da­tion for this level of wis­dom and un­der­stand­ing was cre­ated in part by his for­mer em­ployer, WWE CEO, Vince McMahon. Bobby re­calls a point early in his WWE ca­reer when he was try­ing to dis­cover his per­sona. Vince told him, “Fig­ure out who you are. Be who you are and turn the vol­ume up.”

Tak­ing the grandios­ity of the in­dus­try in stride, Bobby re­calls the time when he de­fended cur­rent US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at WrestleMa­nia 23.

“This was the match where Trump or McMahon would be shaved bald if their wrestler lost. Stone Cold Steve Austin of­fi­ci­ated the match as Team Trump took the win!” While this ex­pe­ri­ence was a mem­o­rable one for Lash­ley, he un­der­stands that at the end of the day the glam­our and spec­ta­cle of his ca­reer doesn’t de­fine his suc­cess in full. Where the fame and glory of work­ing in the im­age-driven en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try is enough to make even the most level-headed ath­lete a nar­cis­sist, Bobby man­ages to achieve a marked level of suc­cess while stay­ing true to him­self and re­main­ing humble.

COM­ING FULL CIR­CLE

The source of Bobby’s hu­mil­ity can be traced back to his tough life cir­cum­stances grow­ing up. He ex­plains, “My par­ents came from Panama, and told me sto­ries about how they grew up. They lived in poverty. It was the same for me when I was grow­ing up – we didn’t have a lot. I was one of four kids from a sin­gle par­ent house­hold. When I fi­nally be­gan to see suc­cess this up­bring­ing re­minded me to be thank­ful for what I have, keep­ing me grounded.”

“there will be a time where I will no longer be able to fight; but un­til I reach that time I will do every­thing hu­manly

pos­si­ble to keep go­ing.”

Even­tu­ally be­com­ing a par­ent him­self has also had a pro­found ef­fect on Bobby’s ca­reer. His kids in­spire and mo­ti­vate him ev­ery day to com­pete and win. Bobby will do what­ever it takes to pro­vide for them. He never wants them to know the kind of hard­ships he ex­pe­ri­enced as a child, though this doesn’t mean hand­ing them things in life. Rather, he wants to in­still his son and two daugh­ters with the same tena­cious work ethic that brought him to where he is to­day.

NEVER STOP PUSH­ING

De­spite all that he is ac­com­plished, Bobby isn’t sat­is­fied to just ride the wave he is on. They say that the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Where many sports en­ter­tain­ment stars rise, fall, and fade into obliv­ion, Lash­ley doesn’t want this for him­self. With a Bel­la­tor ti­tle still ahead of him, he knows there is yet much work to be done.

Bobby pos­sesses both an in­her­ent abil­ity and prac­ticed con­di­tion­ing to over­come and mas­ter the di­verse chal­lenges in his life. His op­ti­mistic view of his own po­ten­tial and drive to evolve have been the guid­ing force in his abil­ity to dom­i­nate both in the ring and in life. “I think you should try to test your­self on a daily ba­sis. That’s what I try to do. That is why I fight. That is why I pro wres­tle. That is why I go to the gym. That is why I am a sin­gle fa­ther. I do all these dif­fer­ent things be­cause I al­ways say that I can do it. Be­cause one day there will be a time where I will no longer be able to fight; but un­til I reach that time I will do every­thing hu­manly pos­si­ble to keep go­ing.”

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