American Value: Greatness
Don Frye is a great man. More than that, he's a great American. With his Tom Selleck mustache and gravelly voice, he's a modern John Wayne, if John Wayne had been a real butt-kicking cowboy and not a notorious draft dodger.
Frye, wearing his "Terrorists Suck" T-shirt and American Flag shorts, represented us proudly in the Pride ring. But he was more than a fighter. As a younger man, Frye was also a fire fighter. With an emphasis on "fighter," as he told me in this 2009 interview for Heavy MMA:
Don Frye has been a fighter his whole life. Long before he was making a living bashing skulls in the cage, Frye was still fighting, whether it be fighting fires or fighting morons on the street. Sometimes, in those amazingly rare moments, the two became one and the same.
Frye was a firefighter and EMT in New Mexico and later in Arizona. Of all the late night calls and all the roaring flames, one night stands out in his memory, as vivid as if it were yesterday.
"We got the call, around midnight. We roll in there and put the fire out, find a couple of hotspots here and there. Then we find a suicide note," Frye said. "That pisses you off because they are endangering your life and the lives of all the other fire fighters."
This was worse than people calling for an ambulance at two in the morning with mild discomfort, which is how EMT's spend 95 percent of their time. This was dangerous and irresponsible, and a furious Frye began searching the house for the perpetrator.
"I walked into the bedroom and found the son of a bitch on the bed," Frye remembered. "I grabbed him by the ankles and yanked his ass right on the floor. Boom! He screamed and I drug him down the hallway. I hit him against every wall on the way out the door. Boy, it'll be the last time he tries to commit suicide by fire. I picked him up and threw him out on the lawn. You lose your compassion real quick when people do stupid shit like that."
Frye, as that story clearly illustrates, may not have had a long career as an EMT. Too many stupid people, not enough patience. A former college wrestler, Frye felt a calling as a fighter.
That ladies and gentlemen, is Don Frye in a nut shell. It begs but a single question—great American, or greatest American?