Harry Hunsucker made Kentucky history as the first ever Mixed Martial Arts heavyweight champion. Hunsucker is a 2011 Eastern Kentucky University communication department graduate.
Hunsucker was recognized by the city of Richmond mayor, Robert Blythe, and gave the keynote speech during the CommNow conference on Friday, Nov. 15.
“I’m very proud of that [HRMMA Pro Heavyweight Championship] and it was an honor to get that award,” Hunsucker said.
Hunsucker is the first ever Hardrock MMA professional heavyweight champion and the first person to ever hold titles as an amateur and a professional. He is also the General Manager of Elite Martial Arts and has been an MMA fighter since 2008. He is a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a second degree black belt in Krav Maga and a brown belt in Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
“I want to be inspiring to others,” Hunsucker said.
Hunsucker was born in Painesville, Ohio, but moved to Kentucky after his mother left an abusive relationship. He had to take on the responsibilities of taking care of his younger brother and sister while his mother went to work. He says that he was only in middle school when him and his brother started using drugs and drinking alcohol.
“It's all about how you want your life to turn out at the end of the day and I’m glad my life turned out the way it did,” Hunsucker said.
He started working at EMA as an instructor in 2010, while in college and eventually became the chief instructor working full time. After a year of working as a chief instructor, he was promoted to general manager.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college and I didn’t know you could do martial arts as a career,” Hunsucker said.
Hunsuckers interest in fighting started when he was younger, he would box his friends in his backyard. He fought his first fight in Russell Springs, which he ended up with a knockout.
“I learned from my second fight that if I was going to do this then I needed to start training and do it the right way,” Hunsucker said.
From both a business standpoint and a professional fighter, he says he has to put his feelings to the side in order to get where he wants to be and who he wants to be.
“The biggest challenge is to keep myself disciplined and motivated,” Hunsucker said.
Hunsucker finds his motivation in being someone that his family and friends look up to and are proud. He says that if he was not doing MMA fighting then he would be doing something he was not proud of, so he had to surround himself with people who have the same mindset as himself.
“I want to be great; I want to be somebody that everyone can look up to,” Hunsucker said.
Hunsucker says when he goes into a fight, he remembers when he was younger and how he found his identity as a kid, which was who he was meant to be.
“When you find your identity, don’t lose it because if you do, you’ll lose yourself and your drive,” Hunsucker said.
“Hearing Harry’s story about his upbringing resonated with me and his success showed me that I can do whatever I want to with my life regardless of my upbringing,” said Leslie Payton a senior Public Relations major.