As originally seen on fighterjournal.com…
If you’re a regular to fighterjournal.com, you probably think you’re something of a hot shot when it comes to UFC, don’t you? You probably have the words “Never Stop Fightin’” (yes, not the full word) tattooed like ‘Pac across your chest. You probably can tell me the origins of the sport, the first time you remember watching Kimbo Slice on youtube, or when you saw Jon Jones and thought, “This guy is nasty.”
Well, my friends and readers, I’m here today to blow your mind, Sonic-chicken-sandwich style: You don’t know shit.
And frankly, neither do I. Even I don’t know nearly as much as I should, what with being an infrequent columnist on the site and all… But that said, what follows is an in-depth look at the man who virtually birthed what came to be known as UFC. From the jungles of one of the serious hotbeds of the sport, rose a man from near-tragedy to certain triumph. This is his story*.
James “Jimmy” Blanka was born into humble surroundings, raised in a single-parent home by his mother, Samantha. She worked two jobs, thrice-weekly for tips at the local watering hole and full-time as a seamstress. Jimmy never knew his father, he had left before the boy was old enough to remember. As such, from an early age he was “the man of the house”, tasked to protect his mother and younger siblings from the ever-so-real dangers of rural Brazilian life.
However, it would ultimately prove that the real danger in his life, the one thing that would change that life forever, came away from home. Flying over the Amazon Rainforest, Jimmy’s plane went down. The good news? He survived the horrific crash. The bad news, as a result of the crash, he was exposed to electric eels and high levels of chlorophyll** which would change his skin tone from the milky white he’d been made fun of for as a boy (earning him the nickname Blanka as ‘blanca’ is Spanish for white) to a more feral green color. His hair shocked into a wild red streak as electricity coursed through his veins. He wouldn’t reunite with his mother for many years.
Despite his initial refusal for fear of being labeled a freak, Jimmy would finally leave the jungle in which he grew up. Coupled with his new found ability to control his rage, Jimmy (or, Blanka as he now preferred to be called) discovered that he actually was a pretty decent fighter. Raw, at first, he was challenged by local fighters. He’d win, without exception, every time due to overwhelming strength and the ability to finish opponents off by getting into a fetal crouch and electroshocking them while shouting garbled nonsense as loud as he could.
Slowly, he began to realize his calling. Jimmy was a boy, Blanka was a man. And soon, after fights with Russians*** with funny chest hair, Spanish men pretending to be Thai, frail Asian women, Jersey Shore guidos with a ton of guile (pun, intended), and Indian men with incredible reach****, he discovered he was more than just a fighter. He was an ultimate fighter.
Today, his legacy lives on in the based-on-a-true-story video game, Street Fighter (and of course, its many successful follow-ups and widely acclaimed films). Now, younger generations have come to know Blanka as the green beast from the game they played as kids.
This was the truth the public once knew, but as they say, the truth shall set you free.
*That should say, “This is the story I part-made up, part-read on Wikipedia, part-thought was hysterical and wanted to share.”
***At the time, they fought in what was known as the USSR.
****I could keep going, but I think you get the point. First draft of this had that paragraph about 5 lines longer.