Former McNeese State football player Josh Quayhagen, left, demonstrates self-defense techniques with Dominic Miller on Wednesday. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Former McNeese State football player Josh Quayhaygen works with children while demonstrating martial arts during the Peaceful Warrior Program on Wednesday at Performance Evolution Gym in Lake Charles. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 11:57 AM
Young mixed martial arts sensation Josh Quayhagen came Wednesday to Lake Charles with a message extending beyond the octagon.
He spoke to children at Performance Evolution gym about a deeper issue for which he displayed great passion — bullying.
Quayhagen said the dangers of bullying have become prevalent today, and he seized the opportunity to actively convey to children the importance of stopping such behavior.
“We’re trying to make bullying an old fad, knock out bullying and kill with kindness,” Quayhagen said. “Kids are cruel at times. I’ve been bullied, and at times I feel like I’ve been a bully. I want to try to stand up to it and get these kids knowing they can do something positive about it.”
Quayhagen, a Leesville native and former McNeese State football player, will fight Friday night in Lake Charles as part of Bellator Fighting Championships’ Bellator 69 at L’auberge Casino Resort.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, who also attended Quayhagen’s anti-bullying event, said Quayhagen was the perfect person to speak out for such a compelling cause.
“It’s one thing for the teacher to get up or mom and dad to get up and go ‘Don’t do this,’” Rebney said. “But when the bar-none toughest guy in the room stands up and goes, ‘This is wrong, don’t do it, and here’s why’ I think it sends a really great message to kids.”
Quayhagen owns Performance Revolution gym and will begin holding weekly “Peaceful Warrior” programs there on Wednesdays this summer to continue his anti-bullying initiative encouraging children to take a stand against it. He said the programs will include fitness and self-defense exercises along with counsel on how to deal with and eradicate bullying.
“The biggest thing is to let them know the bully isn’t the know-all says-all,” Quayhagen said. “It’s just another kid that’s been hurting. You can stand up to it; nobody can hurt you without your permission. We want to give the power back to them because it’s tough for them to really see why somebody would be mean.”
Quayhagen, 25, has climbed into the ranks of the Bellator fighters with a 3-0 record this year. He splashed onto the scene by beating kickboxer Cosmo Alexander and will take on Cliff Wright Jr. on Friday in a lightweight battle.
Quayhagen got his fighting foundation in karate as a child, and he said his lifelong dream is to be a fighter and continue to positively impact children’s lives in his home state.
“I think it’s the most intense chess match in the world,” he said. “I love the discipline, so my goal is to take it as far as I can. For me, that always meant reaching the top and winning a championship belt. It’s a way to push myself to the limit, get to teach some kids and learn all along the way.”
Doors open for Bellator 69 at 5 p.m. Friday with the first fight scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Quayhagen’s fight won’t be the only prominent one of the night, as top-ranked women’s 115-pound fighter Megumi Fujii is set to battle No. 2 Jessica Aguilar as part of the competitions. Tickets are on sale for $40-$65 on Ticketmaster.com or the L’auberge box office, and viewers can watch the fights live on Spike.com beginning at 6 p.m. and on MTV2 starting at 7 p.m.