Georges St-Pierre is often regarded as one of a very handful of fighters who can claim the mantle of “greatest of all time.” He’s earned this respect from both casual fans and the fight press alike. His hall-of-fame credentials become obvious even with the briefest glance at his fight record. His well-defended championship belts across two UFC weight divisions saw him victorious against monsters and icons of the game. He’s a legend.
With all that in mind, now imagine him as a runty little kid, getting bullied. Quite a transition, isn’t it?
That’s a biographical trope more common in many of our own stories — those of his fans; ordinary people. We may have our own stories, about how we (or our kids) handled similar bullying circumstances. But in GSP’s case, it makes us ask: how did a two-division world-champion mixed martial artist handle bullying as a young runt? And how did he reconcile the experience as an adult?
In his case, there’s a truly meaningful story along with our answers, complete with a plot twist.
It’s the stuff of blockbuster movies: young, runty GSP gets bullied left and right, and has to learn to fight back. It’s one of the factors that gets him into martial arts in the first place. And just like the movies, his past-bully was a lot older, bigger, and stronger. He was the literal alpha-jock; a huge hockey player at their school. Also, his bullying encounters with GSP didn’t just happen once or twice, but constantly.
By St-Pierre’s own admission, he consistently came out on the losing end of these fights… but he also did not back down from them. In fact, it sounds as though he began actively seeking out the confrontations, until the bully himself lost interest in the chase.
None of that is even the most interesting (or even: most humane) part of the story. Though it does give us some insight into the kind of grit St-Pierre must have had to repeatedly get back up and re-enter the fray. True championship qualities are all in the narrative already, even at a young age. He faces down fear, and confronts the challenge until it’s overcome… even in the face of repeated (literal) beatings.
The more interesting (and character-exemplifying) part of the story is when Georges meets his childhood bully again as an adult. And by now, Georges is not just any adult; he could now certifiably beat the daylights out of most other adults in single combat.
But the circumstances of their meeting? Humble… and rather sad. The adult bully is literally begging alongside the road for spare currency. And when he recognized Georges, he was noticeably frightened. After all, Georges was widely famous by then, as a hall-of-famer icon of mixed martial arts.
What would you have done if you were GSP? Facing off with a childhood bully who constantly tormented you, humiliated you, physically dominated you… and now you’re arguably the baddest man on the planet in a fight? What’s more you now sense fear in your childhood bully, fallen low in the world as he has.
What did Georges do?
He acted like a decent human being. As a true champion should. And he tells Joe Rogan the story in a quite humanizing interview excerpt.
Check out the video to hear the rest: