Death, overdose, and homelessness were not discouraging enough to knock pro-mixed-martial-artist Ian Butler down.
Most of Ian’s childhood was spent sleeping in homeless shelters, until social services took custody of him and sent him to live in a group home. Too young to understand why he had been separated from his mother, little-Ian was unaware that the woman who would change his life forever was about to rescue him from a cold, hard future.
Katie Andrews was a volunteer and philanthropist with endearing dimples, and a giant smile. She discovered ten year old Ian at a soup kitchen he had frequented with his mother. To little-Ian, Katie may as well have been the queen of Candyland. She was well put together, and in charge of the dessert stand at the soup kitchen. Need we say more?
She handed him a piece of frosted cake and left a lasting impression on the sugar-happy boy. When Katie found out that social services had taken custody of little-Ian she adopted him, and drove him home to a shiny new life in the San Diego Hills.
Ian acclimated to a lifestyle that he had never fathomed until now. Transitioning from a group home to a two-story house with air conditioning and a swimming pool, was a dream come true. Katie was the beating heart of his new bright future, and encouraged him to study hard and play sports after school. This is where he discovered that he had a flare for the athletics.
Despite the fact that Ian was thriving, he missed his mom and was happy to hear that she had secured an apartment, and was ready to reclaim him from his swanky suburban life. Ian said goodbye to Katie, and moved to St. Louis with his mom.
In high school, Ian made quite a name for himself in the wrestling department. It was only a matter of time before college recruiters were banging down his doors, and offering scholarships to ensure a successful future. But he started skipping wrestling practice to roll with his so-called-friends, who introduced him to the seductive life of drugs and partying.
After a severe pill overdose, a hospitalized Ian promised himself that he would give up drugs forever, should fortune take a turn for the better. He followed that infamous white light to the precipice of death, only to turn right back around and demand another shot at life. Ian awoke to a team of doctors recapping that he had been dead for three solid minutes, before being resuscitated completely.
True to his promise, Ian ditched the drugs. He hit up a local spot called Absolute Martial Arts in St. Louis where he started to hone his abilities, and pursue what would become a successful career in mixed martial arts. Fighting in sold-out 4,000 seat stadiums, Ian signed with a manager and booked his first professional fight.
It seemed that Ian’s ACL could not withstand his rigorous training regimen, and it tore months before the big night. Forced to drop out of the fight, Ian found himself at an all time low, and reached out to the second Mom who had shed light on his life once before: Katie. This is when he discovered that she had been keeping a huge secret for a very long time.
Katie had been undergoing chemo and radiation therapy for years, but wanted to protect her honorary son from the truth of her cancer. After years of separation, Katie’s sister took Ian’s reunion phone-call, and broke the news that Katie’s body had been washed ashore at a local beach. She explained that Katie’s heart had been severely weakened by the radiation, and had given out in the middle of a routine-afternoon swim.
Devastated, Ian found solace in his friends, and peeled himself up from “proverbial” rock bottom to start working as a special E.D. PE teacher. He discovered that giving back to the community gave him joy, and he starting volunteering with Fighting for Autism- a local non profit center for kids with autism.
Once his ACL (and his spirits) had revived, Butler went into prep for his upcoming fight at the Bellator MMA. Inspired by his involvement with the community, Butler proved that he was still Jenny from the Block. He requested that all of the proceeds from his fight go toward the shelter that had put a roof over his head all those years ago. The shelter he stayed in when his mother lost their home. The shelter where his story had begun.
Fitness was not about vanity for Ian Butler. His body gave him a second chance, and he used it to make the world a better place. His is not a story of physical transformation, but rather a transformation of soul. Mixed martial arts saved Ian. It gave him the fight to become so much more than the little boy who had once eaten cake at a soup kitchen. More than the teenager who had tested the limits of his own life. Fighting made a man of Ian Butler.
The kind of man who can make opponents wet themselves in the ring AND show a community that any hardship can be triumphed over and pursuit of success is a birthright- no matter where we came from.
This feature on Ian “Silverback” Butler, who carries the Elite Voyager Backpack in Red, has been brought to us by 6 Pack’s social media maven Jade. Check out Jade’s interview with Maribel Lalanne on how to love your body, as well as her posts on being proud to prep and how to build muscle as a vegetarian. Browse meal management systems, gym totes, gym backpacks, and more to find the perfect 6 Pack Bag for you!Follow Me