As a youth in Auckland, New Zealand, Mark Hunt wasn’t sure what he wanted to someday do for a living.
According to Hunt, however, this all changed several years ago.
“I got into a night-club fight and the following week I was fighting my first fight,” recounted Hunt, 37. “I was asked to fight, I was young [and] thought I was tough, so I had the fight.”
Although he admitted that he had “no intentions” when he first began training and competing, martial arts quickly became more than a mere hobby for Hunt.
“Martial arts has saved my life,” Hunt explained. “I ponder a lot about what I would be doing or where I would be if it wasn’t for martial arts.”
Since acquainting himself with martial arts, Hunt has enjoyed fulfilling careers in both professional kickboxing and professional mixed martial arts.
In the world of competitive kickboxing, Hunt has competed against the best of the best—including Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović, Ernesto Hoost, Jérôme Le Banner, Semmy Schilt and Ray Sefo—and claimed the K-1 Oceania Grand Prix Championship and the K-1 World Grand Prix Championship in 2000 and 2001, respectively.
As a mixed martial artist, Hunt has showcased his skills against many of the sport’s elite competitors—including Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko, Filipović, Gegard Mousasi, Alistair Overeem, Ben Rothwell and Wanderlei Silva—and has competed on three different continents since making his professional debut in 2004.
However, Hunt, who is to return to action against Cheick Kongo at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan in late February, insisted he isn’t done with the sport just yet.
“The next step is the next fight,” Hunt offered. “I will fight as long as I am able. I would like to be the world champ.”
Ed Kapp is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations were obtained first-hand.