” The stereotype of a fighter is being strong minded and strong bodied. They think we are invincible – we’re not. If my regular gets broken, my life sort of is up to bits.”
Some individuals swear by running. Others take medication, or attempt meditation. For Robert Whiteford, mixed martial arts is the remedy that keeps his mental health on an even keel.
The 37- year-old Bellator fighter hit “rock bottom” when an enforced year out of the sport was intensified by his marriage split.
Whiteford informs BBC Scotland about fighting back from his darkest days and ending up being a Do It Yourself fanatic in the middle of life in lockdown.
‘ Pals were my life-saver’
Whiteford has actually been completing at professional level given that 2009, and made history as the very first Scot to sign a contract with the Ultimate Combating Championship (UFC) in2013
Released 3 years later on in the wake of succeeding defeats, he signed up with Russian Mixed Martial Arts promotion Outright Champion Berkut (now referred to as ACA) and began with three straight wins. Life was sweet for the Fauldhouse man.
However when the organisation encountered monetary problem, Whiteford’s battles dried up and his efforts to be devoid of his contract ended in his needing to take a year out.
” Then I had the breakdown of my marriage,” he states. “It wasn’t till I hit rock bottom that I knew something was missing out on. I truly saw it then, how essential Mixed Martial Arts is to me.
” I wasn’t training or going to the health club. It’s a lifestyle and not simply a task. It probably uses up about 90%of my week.
” The people who helped me through the in 2015 were my pals. They essentially brought me back to life. Before then I ran solo. It was a case of ‘we’ll see each other when we see each other’.
” It’s made me realise how important it is to remain in contact with one another.”
‘ Everybody stumbles eventually’
Whiteford’s return to the sport – on the Bellator lineup – was triumphant and significant. His first battle was last November against former UFC competitor Sam Sicilia and the Scot won by knockout in the final 6 seconds.
With his next bout – arranged for 16 May versus Saul Rogers – ambuscaded by the coronavirus pandemic, Whiteford is confined to home.
The support he depended on during a hard 12 months stays as crucial as ever, and is now being reciprocated.
” I have actually made a point of setting aside time to check in with my pals every couple of days,” Whiteford states. “Even if it’s not to help me, you never ever know how they are feeling until you ask. It could simply take a wee text or a phone call to alter their day or lift their spirits.
” It is essential to let each other understand that you’re there. I had a blip in my life and everybody takes a stumble eventually. It’s practically attempting to do the very best you can and make it through those blips together.”
Sobbing for weeks & knocking down walls
Prior to lockdown began, Whiteford needed to handle individual heartache when his precious partner, ginger cat Ollie, passed away.
Whiteford discusses: “I think I cried my eyes out for about two weeks. He was the most constant thing in my life over the past 10 years – he lasted 2 sweethearts and a marriage …
” I took him for given – I thought he would always be there. I never had one picture of him up around your home – my sweetheart went and got me a canvas and I’ve put that up in my bed room.
” My sweetheart has actually come up to keep me company throughout all of this. She’s been a godsend.”
With his sport on hold amid the pandemic, Whiteford has been making excellent usage of the additional time on his hands.
In place of knocking down challengers in the cage, he has actually been knocking down walls in his house.
” My regimen hasn’t changed all that much because I have actually basically separated myself for the past 12 years – it’s quite a lonely sport,” he says.
” The only thing that’s altered for me is that I can’t get to the gym to do sessions with my training partner. I have actually developed an extension on to my house to fit a fitness center in, and I run eight miles every two days.
” As much as I delight in combating, I like the downtime too. I have actually invested a lot of time doing DIY – I’ve knocked more walls down than I probably have actually left standing!”
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