UFC fighter Nathan Quarry provides inspiration at Northwest Comic Fest
At the Northwest Comic Fest, Nathan Quarry talked about his journey “From the Cage to the Stage” in two presentations. During the first presentation, he provided a comprehensive overview of his motivations for becoming a UFC fighter, and talked about his current Zombie Cage Fighter projects.
Whenever Quarry questions his own ability, he asks three questions:
Quarry understands that there are people who will be better than him, and that there isn’t anything he can do about that.
“All I can handle is what I’m doing now,” says Quarry. “I would rather crash and burn than live a safe life.”
Quarry grew up in Salem, Oregon as a self-described skinny nerd with thick glasses, whose parents did not allow to play sports. As a Jehovah’s Witness, he went door knocking when all the other kids were having fun. In his early 20s, something changed.
“I would rather die than continue living this way,” says Quarry. When he saw a UFC fight, he thought it was insane. “Who would choose to get punched in the face?”
However, he also recognized the athleticism involved in fighting and was impressed that at the end of the match the two fighters would hug it out. The fight allowed the fighters to either let their bad feelings go or demand a rematch.
Quarry didn’t have any fighting skills, but he was a hard worker. He also had other skills that he could apply to the training process.
“I was not afraid to look stupid,” says Quarry. “I was willing to keep coming in week after week.”
More talented fighters wouldn’t train as hard or would take time off, and Quarry was slowly able to surpass them in technique. When his coach offered him a place on the team, Quarry didn’t have the confidence to accept. The coach said, “You show up all the time, and you work hard.”
The coach believed that Quarry had what it took. Quarry decided that if his coach believed, then maybe he should believe as well.
Two events led Quarry to commit to living his dream. Quarry was working in construction hanging signs for gas stations. This often meant that he would hang a sign for Shell on a gas station one month, and the next month he would tear down that sign and hang up one for Chevron.
When Sept. 11 happened, he went to work, and his boss showed up on site. Quarry mentioned that the day was crazy, and his boss agreed complaining that the gas station wanted them to change out the sign again. With the terrorist attack and the hundreds of people dead, Quarry found it disconcerting that his boss would be most concerned with the ephemeral work that didn’t seem to matter.
A little later, he returned to work after being sick for a week, and his yelled at him for a mistake that had been made while he was out sick. Quarry explained that he hadn’t been on the job because he was ill, but the boss kept yelling. Quarry says that he was willing to accept the responsibility, but he told his boss that he didn’t want to be yelled at. The boss continued to shout, and Quarry suggested that if the boss felt that way, maybe Quarry should leave. That was the last day Quarry worked at that job.
Quarry went home, figured that he would need $1,000 a month to pay bills and he had $3,000 in the bank. As a single father, he was concerned for his daughter. He explained to her the situation ad what it would mean for her. She supported his decision. He would take her to his training in Portland and found that people supported him in unexpected ways as his financial situation worsened.
Before his first big fight, his dad was diagnosed with a disease that caused his body to stop producing red blood cells. Quarry hadn’t been welcome to the family since he left his religion. However, this was a big enough problem that he was back to come back and help his father. He spent three weeks watching his father go from healthy to unable to move without passing out. At the age of 62 after years in the construction business, Quarry could see that his dad was left with nothing.
“Nothing but debt and regret,” says Quarry.
When the time came to go to his fight, Quarry talked to his mom, who believed that he should keep his commitment even if she didn’t agree with it. He flew out to Virginia, and while he was preparing for the fight, his father died. He got the call, and Randy Couture, who was cornering him, asked Quarry what he wanted to do. Quarry had plenty of reasons not to fight, but his dad provided the perfect example of why he should continue.
“I’m going to chase down my dreams no matter what,” says Quarry. He won his fight that night, and it led to the opportunity to be on inaugural season of the Ultimate Fighter.
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