Melchor Menor became a professional Muay Thai fighter at the age of 19. He would go on to secure two world championships. Menor gained recognition in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and in the professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). We spoke with him five years ago about his faith journey and how the training he does in the ring helps him in life outside the ring.
“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.” Genesis 32:24-25
Menor explains why he has Isaiah 12:2 on his shorts and what it means to him
“When I first came to San Diego I opened a small 1,100 sq. ft. gym that had a ring and a small office. I didn’t know anyone in town. My bedroom was in the back office. I had a small refrigerator and a little microwave, and my shower was a hose at the back of the building. I literally lived there for about six months. One of my students gave me a Bible. He said, ‘Coach, I don’t know if you believe in God, but here is a Bible.’ So, one night in October of 1996, I opened that Bible for the first time. I read the whole Gospel of Matthew that night. I remember crying because of what Jesus did for humanity and then coming to a realization of who God is and it changed my outlook on life. My faith in God is one of the foundations I hold very dear. It has allowed me the strength to endure everything that I’ve had to go through. I find myself praying all the time and thanking [God] for being there with me through the difficult times and just caring for me so much!”
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Menor explains how the things he learns as an athlete translate to real life, especially when it comes to being knocked down.
“There are a lot of things and situations that have happened in my life, that if I didn’t know how to get back up on my feet, I don’t think I’d be the same person that I am today. I believe everything that happens in the ring translates into life outside of the ring…from understanding what it means to persevere, to disciplining myself to get back up and keep going. Sometimes in life it feels like you just keep getting knocked down again and again. So then, it’s what you do with it that matters. Even the discipline that it takes to train and then being in the mindset that you have to be in, going into the ring-going into warfare. Again, I believe that everything translates or parallels life…One of the closes people to me betrayed me in my career. I struggled to deal with the sense of injustice and betrayal. I actually left the sport for a while. I went back to work and took some time away before I was able to return to it. There was something inside of me that just kept telling me no matter what-go back, get back in there. Here’s the ironic thing about it; I could have chosen to back via another route, but I chose to return and confront an awkward situation and to forgive that person.”
Share your faith. There are people all around us that need to hear about the love God has for them. You can give them a devotional, Bible, faith-based book that they can relate to, or a CD of an artist in the genre of music that they like. Pray and ask God how to give it to them. It could be something as simple as grabbing coffee and sharing the gift with them. You can share what impact the gift has had on your life and why you think they will like it.
Wrestle with God. When you are facing a trial or challenge, turn to God and pray. Rather than turn to alcohol, drugs, or even our friends to solve the problem, God wants us to turn to Him. Take your anger, frustration, and pain and cry out to him. Don’t be concerned with having the right words to say. Write out your prayers, scream, or cry. God knows our pain and wants to comfort us with His Holy Spirit.
Forgive. Each of us has been hurt or wronged by another person. It is so easy to allow that hurt to build and become bitter. Instead, God wants us to forgive that person. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you are saying what they did was right or that you agree with it. Even if the person is no longer in your life, it is important to forgive. You can write a letter or pray to help you have closure. If you are having trouble forgiving someone, ask a pastor or counselor to help you process what happened. Sometimes having an outside perspective can help with the forgiveness process.
To read our entire interview with Melchor Menor, click here.