Evan Tanner: Once I was a Champion

By Jeff Sherwood May 13, 2011
From left to right: Lance Dumais, Matt Irwin, Gerard Roxburgh, and Kirk Porter. | Photo: J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to the first screening of the documentary about Evan Tanner titled “Once I was a Champion.” I had watched the official trailer online before the screening, and it triggered some emotions as I had known Evan for a long time. I went into the building thinking this might be a tough one to watch.

As I sat and watched the documentary I noticed one of the subjects interviewed in the film was an old friend of mine: Jason Leigh, whose appearance was both stellar and memorable. He had shared many stories about Evan with me over the years and was the person that introduced me to the one-time UFC middleweight champion. Scores of others were interviewed as well. The stories were great; some emotional and some hilariously funny.

What I really liked about “Once I was a Champion” was the fact that it was a true story. They did not make this film to portray Tanner as a great fighter -- they documented his troubles in life while being a great fighter -- which not only made this movie about MMA, but a story about real life and personal demons.

With MMA being such a new sport there are only a handful of documentaries that I really enjoyed about this life of ours, and this joins the short list.

Director Gerard Roxburgh and producer Kirk Porter will get a big break with the running of “Once I was a Champion” at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival. The event received more than 5,025 submissions from filmmakers around the world and this was one of the films chosen.

The Festival will run from June 16-26. I’m very interested to observe how the general public will take to this film, and I feel Roxburgh and Porter did a tremendous job on providing a story to be remembered and shared.

On Sept. 8, 2008 the world lost a very good person that had some problems, which we all do. But I’ll leave you with some of Evan Tanner’s words that will live on forever.

“Believe in yourself.”
“Believe in your own potential for greatness.”
“Believe that you can change the world.”
“It is something that is within each of us.”
“Believe in the power of one.”

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