The Bank Robbery that Fueled Bobby Lashley’s Quest to Become an MMA Champion

Apr 21, 2009
How a Near-Death Experience Led Ex-WWE Superstar Bobby Lashley – Who Is Presenting the Championship Title at the Main Event of XFC 8: “Regional Conflict” on Saturday, April 25 at Thompson-Boling Arena – to Pursue His Dreams in the Steel Cage

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Bobby Lashley’s life nearly ended in 2003.

“It was a day like any other,” Lashley recalled. “I was still focused on my amateur wrestling career when I walked into my local bank in Colorado Springs to take care of some business. And then suddenly – directly behind my head – exploded the sound of gunfire. It was an armed robbery and I was precisely between the gunmen and the money. If you watch a slow motion replay of the bank’s security cameras, you can actually see a small cloud of gun powder just behind my head.”

The ex-WWE superstar and current MMA heavyweight prospect gazed skyward as he remembered his near-death experience – and his life-changing realization:

“If I had died then,” he slowly spoke, “there would’ve been so many dreams unfulfilled. So many goals and aspirations gone forever – dead on arrival. And that’s why I’m in the Mixed Martial Arts. Before I die, I wanna be the heavyweight champion of the world. That’s my dream.”

Bobby Lashley will present the new XFC featherweight world title to the winner of the Bruce “The Noose” Connors versus Jarrod “The Wild Card” Card fight in the main event of XFC 8: “Regional Conflict” on Saturday, April 25 at the 21 thousand-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee. The event will air live on national television, exclusively on HDNet.

For Lashley, Connors and Card represent what the 250-pound, American Top Team heavyweight prospect is working so feverishly to achieve.

“It’s all about becoming a champion,” said Lashley. “My father always told me that no matter what you do in life, you owe it to yourself to the absolute best at it – to push yourself until there’s nothing left in the tank. There’s a fine line that separates a champion from everyone else. We all have doubts and we all have fears, but a true champion finds a way to overcome them. And when a champion is fully focused and fully prepared, nothing can stop him.”

Becoming a champion is something Lashley understands well: From 1996 through 1999, Lashley wrestled at – and earned two degrees from – Missouri Valley College, becoming a three-time NAIA national wrestling champion and a four-time All-American. He later followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the U.S. Army, winning a pair of Armed Forces championships and a 2002 silver medal at the Military World Championships.

Lashley’s eye-popping athleticism, chiseled physique and elite wrestling pedigree landed him an opportunity with the WWE. He won the ECW heavyweight championship twice, and perhaps most memorably, tag-teamed with billionaire Donald Trump at Wrestlemania 23 on April 1, 2007, helping “The Donald” shave the head of WWE chairman Vince McMahon.

But despite achieving celebrity status – and main event compensation – while with the WWE, something was missing.

“I still dreamed of becoming a champion and testing myself against the very best in the world,” Lashley said. “Yeah, I know I have my critics. I know some people think I’m crazy for leaving behind the WWE and starting all over again in MMA, but this is my dream. And I’m pouring my heart and soul into this sport. Believe me, I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got.”

Which is why some in the MMA community raised their eyebrows when Lashley appeared this past weekend at the TNA “Lockdown” professional wrestling pay-per-view, rejoining the “sports entertainment” profession after a yearlong absence. But according to Lashley, his heart is still dead-set on becoming an MMA world champion, and TNA is a means to that end.

“It’s not the kind of professional wrestling that everyone thinks,” explained Lashley. “With the WWE, I was on the road nonstop; it was my entire life. With TNA, I’m only working four days a month. And with the extra income from wrestling, I can take care of my family and afford to fully dedicate myself to my MMA training. I’m no different than so many young fighters: I still need a day job, because MMA training is expensive – especially when you want to travel to different camps and learn from the top minds in the game. And TNA has been great to work with.”

Lashley plans to travel to Las Vegas and train with one-on-one with a top-ranked heavyweight in the UFC, although he declined to disclose this heavyweight’s identity.

“I’m still learning,” Lashley readily acknowledged. “In my last fight [a unanimous decision victory over Jason Guida on March 21] I made the mistake of letting my opponent get under my skin, especially after he ran his mouth. Instead of focusing on executing my game plan and doing what I do best, I focused on hurting the man. MMA is sort of like professional wrestling, in that the key to success isn’t actually hurting your opponent – but focusing on implementing and executing your game plan. If you do that, everything else takes care of itself. And I love training. When I leave practice, I’m so amped-up. It’s a feeling of euphoria.”

As Lashley continues to develop his craft, his dream of becoming an MMA world champion remains in the forefront of his mind.

“I definitely want to fight for the XFC,” he exclaimed. “100 percent. All I’ve heard are good things about them and their promoter, and I know they have a lot of great fighters. Hopefully I’ll be on their next card. Meanwhile, I’m excited to be at XFC 8 this Saturday night. Card versus Connors in the main event for the XFC featherweight world title – that should be a phenomenal fight! It’s a golden opportunity for both men, because opportunities to become a champion don’t come around every day. It takes so much blood, sweat and sacrifice. Believe me… I know.”

Lashley paused briefly before continuing:

“And one day soon, I’ll be a champion again, too.”

XFC 8: “Regional Conflict” features the fastest-rising young prospects and top emerging superstars from Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina in a series of contender-versus-contender cage fights. Tickets are now available at the Thompson-Boling Arena box office and Tickets Unlimited outlets, including Cat's Music, Disc Exchange, and Fye Music.

About Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC): Xtreme Fighting Championships – better known to MMA fight fans worldwide as the XFC – is the Southeast’s leading independent MMA promotion, and stages the largest live shows in the entire sport this side of the UFC. Dedicated to launching the careers of the MMA superstars of tomorrow, the XFC’s next mega-event, XFC 8: “Regional Conflict,” takes place on April 25 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee, and will be broadcast live on national television, exclusively on HDNet. For more information about the XFC, please visit www.mmaxfc.com.
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