Teejay (Terry) Britton is an amateur fighter out of Missouri, and based on how I was approached for this interview, I would say he's kind of a big deal in this state! …I received an email from an individual that covers the local MMA scenes and was given a brief (and interesting) background on a man that's known as a "State Favorite" …that man is Teejay Britton. I anticipate a wonderful story of a life that's changed from a rough upbringing to being an influential member of his community, and an MMA fighter… Let's get right into it and learn who, exactly, Teejay Britton is.
Jason Przewoznik: Teejay, thanks for replying to my interview request so quickly! Its always an honor to work with fighters on the rise and listening to their life-stories. Why don't we start with the norm… Who is Teejay Britton and how was your life growing up?
Teejay Britton: Lets see, who is Teejay Britton? Many would say a young man that wears many hats, lol. Well, Teejay Britton is originally born in Poplar Bluff, Mo and also lived in East St. Louis. Baby out of 6 kids. Grew up not in the best neighborhood. Mom was paralyzed when I was a kid ( which God healed her to walk again), and dad was a very tough, stern man who didn't show alot of affection, so I had to be a tough kid that dealed with a lot. Dad also had a rep for being someone not to mess with in the streets, so I felt like I had to be the same way. I had a lot of sleepness nights and days with no meals, but one thing my parents taught us growing up was, no matter what keep your family close and tight and don't let people feel sorry for you. At the age of 14, my dad gave his life to Christ and things began to get a little better in the home. No more being abused, yelled and cursed at, no more alcoholic dad; but just because he changed didn't mean I did. I began to lash out at others. (I was) known in my neighborhood for fighting and staying in trouble, people literally just counted me out. I had a teacher/counsolor tell me I would be dead or in jail before 17. Getting in so much trouble in high school, I was forced to either be in the army program called JROTC or kicked out of school, so JROTC it was. It really helped me out as well with discipline. Well, after that my dad sat us down and explained to us that college is very important and we have no other options but to go to. He also explained that college was expensive, and god had blessed us with athletic ability and we could use it to pay for college education; and that's what I buckled down and done. Signed a scholarship to run track in STL MO, and again moved in with my Grandma in East STL. …Well, as most young men or women that were raised with nothing, when I ran track at college, I was an all-american and began to recieve a lot of attention, I wasn't mentallly prepared for it. As a freshman in college, I qualified for Olympic Trails…. I dropped out of college and began to run Professional track for different organizations. Growing up with nothing and finally starting to see money, sometimes isn't the best when you don't have structure. Making a lot of bad decisions with the money that was made and I quickly began to be known by the local city police… and not for good things, that wasn't a good thing either. Finally, God woke me up and got my attention. Seeing a best friend that was straightening his life out and actually doing things right get murdered by a guy from his past, in front of me and his fiancee. That really got my attention! At that point in my life, I realized I'm better than just running these streets. I actually wanted to do something better in life. I quit track and moved back home to get my life in order. I decided to go back to college and play basketball and further my education. I gave my life to god my senior year in college and living for him every since. After my senior year, I played pro basketball over seas and began ministering and giving back to my community. Now, I'm a Director of Alternative School, where I work with kids from broken homes, been abused, kicked out of schools, drug problems, parents abandoned them, etc. I really enjoy it because I was one of these kids growing up and so teaching them that failure isn't an option and to never give up is what they hear a lot of times coming out of my mouth. I am also the director of Victory Ministries and Sports Complex in Joplin, MO, where I teach and train MMA. Feel free to check this facility out and like our facebook page ( www.facebook.com/victoryjoplin). At VMSC, it's non-profit organization that reaches out to the community and serve. It's an awesome atmosphere for families with kids of all ages in a Godly environment to come and enjoy recreational activities. I'm truely blessed to have these jobs that I love to do everyday. One of the things that I'm starting to get notice for is not only mma, but being a Minister/Preacher… especially one that fights…lol. I get tons of questions and comments…lol. I've been blesssed to minister to hundreds of youth at a time.
Jason Przewoznik: Wow, definitely an inspiring story and amazing to see the turn around of mentality (its funny how we think when were younger and less educated)… You mentioned that you teach MMA as the director of Victory Ministries as well as the obvious reasoning for this interview, you are also a fighter…. What would you say it was that turned you on to MMA as a sport and how do you feel that your last has guided you to this point and how does it play a part in your training/fighting?
Teejay Britton: Well, how I got into MMA was… I was looking for something to keep me in shape when I would come home from playing Pro Ball over seas, so I took up boxing. I heard when my pops was younger he was a heck of a boxer, just a natural and on top of that my mom's brother, Alphonse, was a boxer as well and so they both told me how much boxing would keep me in shape… and that's how I started boxing. Then, there was always a kids BJJ class after boxing class and I would sit around sometimes and watch, telling myself that stuff really wouldn't work if someone was trying to punch my head off (lol). My trainer at the time, Jeff Hinds, asked if I was interested in BJJ, I said, "Naw, not really"; so he actually kinda tricked me into it… He said, "Okay, cool. Well, I was wondering if you could help with the kid's class, you know, like being a person I can demonstrate on" …so I said yes…(lol) and like most BJJ guys, I fell in love with it from day one!
How my past has helped guide me to this point in my career and how does it play a big part in training and fighting?
Well, I grew up fighting all the time and when I heard about fighting and not only just fighting, but fighting people your weight, I immediately wanted to know more bout it, haha! I don't believe in quitting or giving up. My sister, Tenisha taught me that giving up is the easiest thing to do in life, but pushing through things and sucking it up makes you a better person. So, I think about that daily as I train. …Especially those hard workouts when no one is watching and you can take breaks, I can hear my sister's voice saying, "most people will take breaks and quit, be better than them!". I work as hard as I can because I'm a prime example of hardwork pays off. Also, growing up my dad never babied us, haha, so you had to be tough, and if you ran your mouth then you had to back it up. That plays a big part as well, because as a young man, keeping my word was huge!
Jason Przewoznik: I remember when boxing was cool… Haha.
Its amazing how the arts such as BJJ can be viewed as boring or useless in a fight, but it's the technique mixed with the other arts that really make them shine and help someone keep their composure during a fight because they are confident in their abilities on and off the mat…the more you continue to push, the more you learn and you may know it all, but just like any fight there will always, somewhere, be somebody better than you. …Its definitely a great mentality to never quit and never give up… A local gym over by me, Alex Wilkie's MMA, has a slogan, "Right now someone is training to kill you, what are you doing?" … Not sure why that amps me up so much, but it's mottos like that and the never giving up mentality that keep you on your toes and always pushing for more.
You are an Amateur fighter… What is your current MMA record and at what weight(s) do you fight? Care to share a bit about your first experience stepping inside that cage and the doors locking behind you?
Teejay Britton: My current record is 7-1, that 1 loss, I hope is getting over-turned, but oh well. I fought at 145, but 3 fights ago I made a transition to 135, and loving every bit of it, lol.
Let's see my 1st fight, my first fight was very interesting. It was in front of about 2,000 crazy, loud fans and most of them were there to watch me. I had an awesome following from the start due to playing college sports, coaching basketball, and being a youth leader at the time. I was the hometown fighter, fighting against a 4-0 fighter with all 4 k.o.'s. He weighed in a little heavier than I did, but I didn't care at the time, I was just ready to bang. So, as I'm walking out to the cage, it's so loud, the crowd is cheering, I'm pumped and excited! My trainer is talking to me in my ear, reminding me of all the hard work I've put in and how I got the reach advantage and I have stone hands and things like that… you know, just amping me up. So, I get to the cage, and I always say a prayer for me and my opponent before I enter, even though he was mouthing off at weigh ins, saying 1st round TKO for sure and that I'm too little and all that. Well, I get in the ring and jog around the cage and as I pass by him, he mouths off a little more and I just kind of ignore him. …Then things sped up, it's like the ref was in a hurry..lol. The announcer steps out of the cage and oh man, when I heard that door lock for the 1st time, (chuckle)… the ring seemed like it got smaller and as I looked across the cage, the fighter who out weighed me last night by 6lbs, looked like he had gained 50lbs. over night! Haha… He was almost foaming at the mouth to get me. He was short and stocky with not 1oz. of fat on him. I'm tall and skinny ready to bang, the ref says fight and honestly, I just thought about all the hardwork I put in… how I never cheated a workout and never missed a day, and I just took it to him. After I hit him with the first jab and he realized he couldn't take me down, I literally saw his confidence slowly fade away. I believe I broke him, so as any fighter that smells blood, I jumped on him! Ended up winning by rear naked choke in the 1st. One of the best feelings ever!
Jason Przewoznik: Haha, that's awesome man. Must feel amazing ending someone's perfect record, especially all by KOs! The loss on your record, what's that about and what's the reason for suggesting an over-turn? Care to shed some light on that?
Teejay Britton: Well let's just say, hometown cooking..lol.
Don't wanna spend a lot of time on it, really. I went to his back yard and felt like I won the fight. Heck, his people even felt I didn't lose that fight! I honestly should've just finished him in the 2nd round and since his eyes were rolling in the back of his head, I got off him and the ref never stopped it. It just didn't feel right punching and him not really defending, then ref said I punched him and woke him up from flash KO, then shouldn't it have been stopped? But, I had to learn the hard way I guess. I can tell you one thing, it's made me hungry than ever, and I've learned to finish my fights from then on. Finished every fight after that one!
Jason Przewoznik: When being a good sport goes wrong… Sometimes refs make poor decisions and ruin fights, we've seen it all throughout the UFC and larger promotions as well… But exactly, if he was 'flash KO'd', that should've been the stop of the fight. Although, now you've learned to never back off until the ref stops the fight and you keep pushing for the finish, it's messed up, but it works in your favor now.. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of being a fighter? What's the greatest?
Teejay Britton: I would have to say the pounding and banging our bodies take. I love the sport, but I can't think of a fight I've walked in there 100%..lol. I've broken my hand a few times. At first I thought it was me just punching the wrong way, but my doctor said I have too much power for my little bone structure..lol. The best thing about fighting is all the hardwork paying off, the 2/3-a-days, wrestling practice, weights and conditioning, BJJ, boxing/kickboxing, and can't forget the dieting. Also for me, is getting to meet people and share Christ with fighters and fans.
Jason Przewoznik: Haha… Good stuff man. I hope to see you continue to shine and succeed in this sport while sharing your message…We've learned a bit about who you are and your journey, and now you're headed to one of the biggest, most respected Amatuer Promotions on April 11th… What are your thoughts on Tuff N Uff as a promotion and have you begun your homework on your opponent yet?
Teejay Britton: I got mad respect for Tuff N Uff promotions. They've helped alot of fighters get pushed and challenged before they go to the next level. The toughest fighters from all over fight there. The best of the best. I'm so honored to be picked to showcase my talent and help southwest Missouri get on the map (lol) … And, no I haven't done homework on my opponent, I trust my trainers to do that at my gym, Victory Ministries and Sports Complex. I've learned that most fighters aren't gonna fight me the same because I'm 6'4 at 135lbs (haha). I just train as hard as I can and respect every fighter I fight like they're GSP. We just make sure we are well rounded and ready to bang come fight time.
Jason Przewoznik: Awesome man! I'm sure if the fans do not know who you are now… They will come April 11th!! Do you have anything you'd like to share with any aspiring fighter who is trying their hand at this sport? Any words of wisdom?
Teejay Britton: Man honestly, just don't be afraid to give it all you got and fail. Train hard and don't doubt your skills. Be strong mentally and physically, and that starts outside the cage! Stay humble and respect this sport, because it could all be over in 1 second.
People have counted me out and said I'm stupid for leaving pro ball, but I believed in myself and helped those negative comments drive me and motivate me to be the best in this sport!
Jason Przewoznik: Wise words… And I definitely agree, you may train well for any sport but it's outside the arena that births your mentality; although outcomes can change with one punch, most fights are won before you step in the cage.
Definitely had a lot of fun with this interview and learned a lot about Teejay Britton.. I hope the readers also get something out of it. I like to give the fighters the floor as I wind down in my interviews… Is there anyone you'd like to thank, anything else you'd like to share, or anything that's on your mind?
Teejay Britton: Man I'd like to start off by 1st thanking God for allowing me to do what I love to do! He has blessed me with talents and I will always keep him 1st in all I do! Gotta thank my beautiful, Wife Britney Britton; She holds the fort down while I'm working and training. She is definitely my backbone! Gotta thank my brothers and sisters Mareece, Martessa-Chad, Raymond-Steph, William-Sommer, and my sister who saw potential in me since I was a lil' brat, Tenisha..lol. Definitely the queen to us, my beautiful Mom, Carolyn Britton, and my pops, Raymond Britton. I know I know it's a lot of us..lol! I gotta thank my trainers and training partners, DeAlan Hicks who I think will be the next great 185er and standup coach, David Lopez, Jerry Walker, Caleb Friend, and all the guys that beat up on me, Hardy Friely, Seth Edwards, the young one, my guy Sam, Blair Patton, and all the ScrapBoyz! Jeff Hinds for getting me started in the fight game. Mike Leake and Rafael Brewster. Alpha 1 for teaching me a lot and opening doors. Danial Anders and Jay Wilson for helping me get going. Chris Gregory for covering MMA in Missouri, a guy who truly loves this sports and goes out of his way to help fighters in our area. Jeff and Misty Frost and family, Madi, Morgan, Taylor. All my sponsors! The Pastor of my church who never misses a fight and is known as the MMA-pastor of our area, Steve Finney. And last but not least my kiddos: Joseph, Aria-Jade, Ty, Jacob, and my baby girl Kyrie (Tink) Jeanette. Please go like my page: www.facebook.com/officialteejaybritton . Thank you and God Bless!
…Sorry it's a lot..lol. I definitely couldn't do what I do on my own!
Jason Przewoznik: Well damn! Haha. Glad to see you have so much support though, brother! I noticed you mentioned your sponsors in your shout outs and the question almost slipped my mind. If anyone were interested in sponsoring and/or booking you for a fight, do you have a person to contact that you'd like to share?
Teejay Britton: <Crickets…>
Jason Przewoznik: Awesome man, I hope the more we get your story out the more blessings you'll receive and the more people you can help through troubled times <I may edit this> Well, man thank you for the time and know that I'll be watching via iPPV and hope to see you add another W to the column! Good luck man!
Teejay Britton: Thanks for the opportunity to share and hopefully my story touched someone. Keep doing what you're doing for the sports and the athletes that are trying to fulfill their dreams. It's people like you that keep this sport growing and keeping fan's attention. Thank you so much and God Bless.