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Pura Vida MMA prospect Ode Osbourne will step inside the Dana White’s Contender Series cage this Tuesday to take on Armando Villarreal for a chance at an Ultimate Fighting Championship contract. However, Osbourne is not just a cage fighter. He is also a sixth-grade math teach who believes time in the classroom has helped him become a better martial artist.
Osbourne took the part-time job for some extra cash, but a series of timely events and a change in gyms allowed him to turn his opportunity into a full-time job.
“An assistant ended up leaving and they needed me to work during the day so they let me teach from 8-1:30, but I was only supposed to do it for about a month until they found someone who could do it for the full day,” he said. “The parents started to like me and they told the principle how good I was with the kids and they asked if I could stay the whole year, so I spent that whole year working half the day with the kids and then going to train at Roufusport at 1:30. The next year I ended up leaving Roufusport and went to Pura Vida, and their practices start at 5:30, so it was perfect. I could work all day at school and come to the gym at night.”
What started as a hobby quickly transitioned to a passion once Osbourne realized how much his time with the students meant to them and to him.
“It started off as a hobby, and I ended up falling in love with it, man,” Osbourne said. “I ended up falling in love with the kids and I started dedicating more time to figure out what made each kid twitch, what made them upset, what made them happy. I started studying them and figuring out ways to help them and drive them to succeed. It’s in an urban community, and a lot of those kids go through struggles that adults don’t even realize that kids go through.
“I wanted the environment to be comfortable for them so they don’t think it’s a waste of their time, because kids go to school and think, ‘Why am I here?’ I try to make it fun for them and try to get them to be themselves,” he added. “I think for MMA … being in the school helps me, and the kids help me be a great fighter; and being in the gym helps me be a better role model to the kids. I can teach them discipline, motivation, structure and other things I learn in the gym.”
Winning a UFC contract would not stop Osbourne from following both passions. Fighting and teaching go hand in hand with him, and no amount of money could get him to stop either of them.
“I’ll definitely keep [fighting and teaching] if I get this contract,” Osbourne said. “The kids in the school need me, and I need them. It’s a great balance, and I love it. I don’t think any amount of money could get me to stop teaching because I don’t teach for the money; I teach because I love the kids and I love to motivate the kids. I love the relationship that I build with them. They don’t even know how much they help me.”
Life was not always so enjoyable for Osbourne. Though he came from humble beginnings, those hard times helped him become the passionate and selfless man his peers and students know today.
“I came out the mud, man. I came from Jamaica,” Osbourne said. “I remember looking up at the airplanes flying overhead and just feeling like I was destined to be something great at 7 years old. I just knew. I knew I was destined for greatness. I didn’t know what it was -- I really didn’t -- but I felt that fire in me at 7, and I kept working hard at whatever I was doing. I didn’t know why. I was climbing coconut trees and running up and down in the woods [and it led] to fighting in Vegas on the Contender Series. I am so blessed to come from that and be where I am now. I’m just so happy to be here.”
For Osbourne, contentment matters more than money, which is why he has chosen to pursue teaching and MMA with the same fervor.
“I don’t even care about the money. I mean, I know I’m going to be a millionaire someday, but that’s not what I’m in it for,” Osbourne said with a laugh. “I just want money so I can help people, so I can help my kids. Money has no value to me; it’s about who I can help and how I can help. The way our society is headed, it’s not looking good, so I have to start making changes around me. It’s the domino effect. If my kids at school look up to me and see me doing all of these great things, they will want to grow up and do great things. I would rather live a short life happy as hell than a long life being rich and miserable behind a desk.”