An Excerpt from the Book:
“There are times when you need to be spiritual: To walk by faith and not by sight”
Tyron Woodley was born in Ferguson, Missouri, the eleventh of thirteen children. While getting his degree in agricultural economics, he became a part of rebuilding the wrestling team at the University of Missouri in Columbia. After graduation, he competed in Mixed Martial Arts, rising as high as the #1 ranked contender in the World in 2016. At 27 years old, he started a personal training gym, “ATT Evolution,” in Rock Hill, which combines the disciplines of wrestling, boxing, jiu-jitsu and muay thai into a complete training program.
There are two Fergusons: an older pleasant community, where many people have worked hard, raised their families, and then retired; and then a poorer area with a raw edge. I grew up in the rougher section: I was exposed to a lot of violence and was part of a gang growing up. When I was older, I was fortunate to live in the more pleasant area. I never forget which part I came from.
My dad worked at McDonnell Douglas and made a decent living. But we were a large family, and like many families, we had our challenges. I will always remember that my dad left our family on my tenth birthday. That was incredibly difficult, but I believe in destiny and that things happen for a reason. Through my faith and my family, I learned how to be emotionally strong about his abandonment. Spirituality and emotional toughness have gotten me through a lot.
I got into a serious fight at the very end of eighth grade. The consequences carried beyond the summer such that I was suspended for the first 90 days at McCluer High School. That’s a tough way to start a new program where before day one I was branded as a troublemaker. I took a hard look and realized that the people around me weren’t going to do anything positive with their life. I was on a path to end up in jail or in a casket. But I also recognized that I had a choice.
When I was coming to the end of In School Suspension, the school administration tried to put me in with the kids with behavioral issues and said that I should be put on medication. My mother fought them on both counts, saying that the problem was that I was bored and needed to be challenged. So they put me in with the academically gifted kids, assuming I would fail.
They were wrong. I made the honor roll every year and got straight A’s in most of my subjects. I had a natural ability in mathematics and liked the challenge of solving problems in science. A strong work ethic got me through classes where I was less proficient. I took AP classes and received college credit for several of them.
I also excelled at any sport I tried: football, track and field, and most of all, wrestling. As a two-time state finalist in wrestling, I finished 48-0 and won the state title. Some of my classmates worked hard at sports, but less so on academics. I was the only athlete from my school who was able to transition to a Division One College.
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