The following is part of an article provided courtesy of UFC.com:
Houston Alexander doesn’t hear a thing.
Despite the roar of the crowd, the thumping beat of the entrance music blaring through arena speakers, and the shouts of his opponent’s cornermen, as well as his own team’s, nothing breaks the Nebraska fighter’s focus when he enters the Octagon. He stares across at his opponent, who – for the next 15 minutes or less – will try to hurt him, make him bleed, or most importantly, take away what he has fought so hard for over the last six years.
It’s then that his intent becomes even more intense. He sees the faces of his six children, aged five to 16, and he thinks of them, what they’ve gone through, and where he hopes to take them. A win brings that goal closer; a loss, and it’s back to square one.
“I see this guy trying to take something from them by trying to take me out, and I’ve got to get him first,” says Alexander, who paces back and forth before the bell, waiting to be sent into battle. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll brush the right side of his torso with his fist, just as a reminder of what he would do for his children.
The year is 2000.
Fighting in the UFC isn’t even a dream at this point, nor is any type of professional prizefighting. Alexander is a working stiff like the rest of us, putting in long hours on a construction crew working with asphalt. Even talking about it years later, he sighs, “It was a very stressful, hard job.”
Yet in addition to sometime 10 hour shifts in the summer heat, Alexander – then the father of five – had more troubling issues on his mind. His oldest child, 10 year old daughter Elan, was born with a kidney dysfunction, and now the kidney was starting to give out on her. The decision he made next wasn’t tough for him, but it was monumental – he was tested and was a match for his daughter. Soon after, he gave Elan his kidney. A week later, he was back at work.
“I was the only breadwinner for the family, so we needed the money,” said Alexander, now 35. Elan, now 16, is doing well, and her father can see her doing all the things every typical teenager does. It wouldn’t have been possible without his sacrifice, but if you want him to give himself a deserving pat on the back, it’s not going to happen.
“I’m pretty sure if other family members needed to step up to the plate that they would have,” he said. “It just happened to be me. But it’s good to see that she’s healthy and that she can be normal. That’s what I’m striving for now – I’m striving for normalcy for my kids.”
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