UFC heavyweight contender Mark Hunt's new memoir Born to Fight reveals and details what he says was a horribly abusive childhood. Journalist Stephen Lacey writes about that in a new feature on Hunt in New Zealand publication, Stuff.
Hunt recalls being hog-tied before being whipped by an apple branch until the skin was ripped from his back.
'That meant no school for three weeks, so that was okay,' he laughs. 'My old man was ruthless. He terrorised us. He'd start with the mental games before he even found the implements to hit us with. He once tied me up in the garage with my hands above my head and beat me with a frigging broom handle. I got away and my brothers came after me. They said fucking get back there or we're all gonna get it.'
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According to Hunt, his sister had it far worse, however.
She was raped by her father from the age of six until she turned 18 and finally moved out of the family home. Hunt doesn't remember much about it, except seeing his father disappear into her room each night, and the strong smell of Dettol that he would use to clean himself up with afterwards. 'I still can't stand the smell of Dettol to this day,' Hunt says. I spoke to Victoria about the abuse. 'It happened nearly every day,' she says. 'If I refused to have sex with my father he would take it out on my brothers. I mothered Mark; he was the youngest and I was his protector, there was no one else.' Victoria says her mother knew what was going on and even encouraged it. 'She allowed it to happen; it happened in front of her,' she says. 'The Mormon Church that my parents went to also knew but did nothing.' Finally somebody at Victoria's school alerted the police. 'Mum said I'll buy you a bike if you drop the charges.' Her father was held in custody and finally allowed out when no evidence emerged. When he was released he continued sexually abusing her. 'He said if you open your mouth again I will kill you,' she says.
Hunt admitted to not initially dealing with all that home strife and abuse well. He bullied others and eventually got into petty crime before using martial arts to help redirect his life.
'Yes I was a bully,' Hunt agrees. 'But the scrapping on the streets was my way of dealing with the anger I felt towards my parents. Home was never a safe place for me. I felt safer on the streets.'
Hunt understandly had much to work through, but said that he has still not ever, for example, sat down and spoken with his sister about their youth and how they were abused. Hunt was eventually given an ultimatum that she would leave him unless he underwent therapy. He did so, and thought there's work yet to do, Hunt's wife said that it has helped him a great deal.
The counselling changed his life, allowing him to work through the issues that had plagued him since childhood and giving him the skills to deal with his anger. 'Don't get me wrong Mark still has some problems, but he's mentally strong and he has come out of that family the most normal,' says Julie. 'I'm proud of what Mark has become today. He's not like his father.'
Reading about Hunt's horrible childhood gives dark new perspective into one of his greatest traits as a fighter - durability. Hunt has always demonstrated an unbelievable ability to withstand punishment in the ring. Sadly, he had practice as a kid.
'Part of my gift as a fighter is being a human punching bag,' he laughs. 'I don't feel pain like most people.'