A Fort McMurray man has his gloves up and is hoping by stepping into the cage just weeks after being evacuated, he can give his hometown a fighting chance.
Teddy “the Bear” Ash was set to fight in front of the hometown crowd June 3 during a mixed martial arts event. The day of the evacuation he woke up in the afternoon expecting to head to the gym before his night shift as a welder at Syncrude’s Aurora Mine when he started getting calls about the order to leave. So during the rush to evacuate he grabbed what he considers essentials.
“My training gear, and I grabbed all my gym shorts and threw them in a bag and boom. I probably should have grabbed my passport instead,” says Ash.
Soon after, Prestige Fighting Championship post-poned its event at the Casman Centre. Ash was staying with friends and family members in the Edmonton area. With no work, he put on the gear and joined St. Albert’s Complete Fitness and Martial Arts, which offers free membership to evacuees. Not long after he was added to the card at Unified 27 against the undefeated Leroy Noltcho.
Ash says training for the upcoming 205-pound bout is helping get his mind off the mayhem, and he’s hoping the fight inspires other evacuees to keep pushing.
“It sucks when I’m going to have to face the reality and go back there someday but it’s nice to have a bit of distraction, right? On your mind. Instead of being stuck in it. At this point in time seeing, every single time you put the news on, any channel, it’s all talk about this fire,” he says.
Ash found out his own home was destroyed by the fire, and he hopes others facing the same kind of losses are inspired to keep fighting.
“Other people can see that I’m putting my focus in something that’s for the good and that’s going to do myself better, and help better my, and keep my mind right during a tough time. Then maybe they’ll do the same.”
Ash fights June 3 at the Capilano Conference Centre in Edmonton.
Listen to the full interview here: