By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
How many times have we heard these words in the context of meeting someone new, particularly if the individual doesn’t appear to fit some sort of stereotype that we’ve conjured up in our mind? The thought came to me as I shook hands with Ryan Benoit as we met recently at Title Boxing in McKinney.
Benoit, who at the young age of 23, is small in stature. He weighs about 145 pounds and stands 5 feet 4 inches tall. And that may not seem, at first glance, like a guy to be reckoned with. But fast forward just a few seconds into the conversation and it becomes clear that Benoit is huge when it comes to heart, tenacity, dedication and enthusiasm for his sport – fighting. He is a winner in the ring.
Benoit, a McKinney resident who graduated from McKinney North High School, wrestled for the Bulldogs in high school. He began boxing at 16 and turned pro at the age of 18. As a bantamweight division professional, Benoit fights under the umbrella of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). He has won all four of his last fights, all of which were televised on AXSTV.
MMA is a full contact combat sport, similar to boxing. However, it allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports.
Although Benoit mentioned that he has had four surgeries to repair broken bones, including a broken nose, and a broken vertebrae, he said he loves fighting. Why does he keep getting back in the ring, despite the injuries and the hours of grueling training?
“It’s really fun. Getting that victory in front of people – it’s such a high to have them (the referee) raise your hand after (the decision),” Benoit said. “It’s hard to explain – that high. “The payoff (financial) can be pretty good, Benoit said with a smile, but I always wanted to be someone that people looked up to.”
But the injuries weren’t the first thing that Benoit thought of when asked what the toughest part of boxing is for him.
“Cutting weight the last few days before a fight is tough,” Benoit said. “My fighting weight is 135, and I’m about 145 right now, so I’ve got to get the last few pounds off,” Benoit said in reference to an upcoming fight. Benoit saw his four-fight winning streak come to a halt on Friday, May 10 when at the Maximun Fighting Championship’s (MFC) debut of the bantamweight division in Alberta, Canada, he lost to Anthony Birchak by a very close margin 30-27 and 29-28 (twice).
Benoit works as a trainer at McKinney’s Title Boxing, which he said affords him the opportunity to teach classes in the mornings and then focus on his own rigorous training during the remainder of the day. He said that he enjoys motivating those who take his class and watching his students progress.
“It’s interesting, I can tell a lot about people’s work ethic based on how hard they work during the (boxing) class — or how quickly they give up,” Benoit said.
Following Friday night’s fight, Benoit’s opponent called him “one tough dude.” Most people would probably agree that in Benoit’s case, his hard work and perseverence have made him someone that people do look up to, in spite of his shorter frame.