(Eat your heart out, fatty.)
If you’ve never heard the story of how Georges St-Pierre began taking karate to help him defend himself against the incessant bullying he endured as a child growing up in St. Isadore, Quebec, Yahoo!Sports has the backstory:
“I had a rough childhood, big problems. I didn’t have many friends growing up. I’m from a small town. I was an intellectual person. People who were friends with me were intellectuals, they were not popular either. They weren’t the hockey player that everyone wanted to be like,” he recalls. “I had an acne problem. I was just not dressing very well. I was not very popular with girls. I just wasn’t a popular guy. [Being bullied every day creates] a very hostile environment. You’re not going to school to learn, you’re going to school to survive. You’re really scared. You hate school because [afterward] you’re getting beat up. You don’t think about what the teacher is telling you, you’re thinking about running away when you hear the ringing of the bell. You need to get your books and get out of class and get to the bus before the kids catch you.”
In a nutshell, St-Pierre became good enough at karate that he started to get the better of his tormentors, even when facing 4-1 odds and he says the attacks eventually stopped.
“I became strong enough to defend myself,” St-Pierre says. “By 14, 15, nobody could touch me.”
Now the UFC welterweight champ, who is an anti-bullying advocate, says although life seems dismal when you’re at the receiving end of abuse it will get better and he’s proof positive of that fact.
“I don’t just want to help the kids who are bullied, I want the bullies to change their minds and know it is a bad thing to do. It goes both ways. Not everyone is able to fight back. I know that. Things change. When you’re young you think everything will stay the same. It won’t. Everything will change. You just have to keep going,” he says. “I never got the chance to make my revenge on the kids that bullied me and I don’t want to do that now. Young kids do dumb things. I am not angry at [them]. I forgive [them].”
He points out that karma can be a bitch and that it was in the case of his attackers.
“St. Pierre was at a mall near Montreal a few years ago when he saw one of those kids who used to pummel him after class; who caused those sleepless nights; who tried to ruin his self-confidence in an effort to prop up his own. GSP was a world champ by then, rich, famous and more than capable of beating the guy silly. They were a long, long way from that school yard. As they passed each other, St. Pierre said he looked at the guy and nodded his head as a sign of recognition. He means it when he says he’s forgiven. The old bully just dropped his head, stared at his shoes and shuffled by.”
“There was a girl at my school, I won’t say her name, but she was the most popular girl, the prettiest girl,” recalls St-Pierre. “Everyone treated her like the queen of the school. Now she is fat and ugly.”