Charles Rosa is now the number one prospect for the UFC. He is an undefeated MMA fighter, a brother and a son–and his story is one of overcoming.
The conversation I had with him had one basic theme–if you put your mind to something you can do it. And his story proves it. It had been a long time since I had heard a real life Cinderella story and I was more than inspired when I heard it first hand. This is Charles Rosa’s story. And as he said, if it can help someone than let’s do it.
And where it starts? Well, it starts at the bottom. It starts below the bottom. It starts with some of the biggest obstacles, that no person should ever have to go through.
Let’s go back in time a bit. Before the MMA, before Charles lived in Florida, before he was on his way to signing big UFC contracts. Before Charles could even begin his journey into the MMA (overcoming every opponent he faced,) he had to face a different opponent; he had to go through a battle with something that is killing people every day–addiction.
Charles lost his two brothers to addiction and it was around that time that he started having his own struggles with it. Those struggles, his own drug addiction, took him from his home in Massachusetts into the heart of sunny south Florida to find sobriety.
Sobriety doesn’t come easy. It is a fight in and of itself. So many people die from drug addiction. The numbers for 2012 were a person lost to the disease of addiction every 19 minutes.
He did everything he needed to do and took all the suggestions given when he finally got sober for good. This wasn’t his first round battling with this disease, but this time he would win. And he did.
Eventually sobriety took him into his first MMA gym, which he explained to me was unknowingly, one of the most renowned gyms for training MMA fighters in the country. Every struggle makes us stronger. Every thing happens for a reason. And in Charles’ case, this couldn’t have been more true, figuratively and literally. His struggle had led him straight into the place where he would become stronger than ever–the place it seems like he is meant to be–the fighting ring.
When Charles first set foot in Florida he didn’t expect to have the life he has today. It wasn’t his plan to get into MMA and become one of the most widely recognized and future UFC prospects.
And how could he? He started with nothing, like most of us. But saying he had nothing isn’t accurate. He had one thing, resolve. And as soon as he found his passion–as soon as he realized that his life would be what he made of it–he got to work.
And so he did. Charles worked his way up. Newly sober, riding his bike, saving for a car, working as a chef, saving for his own place, and pushing himself, every, single, day; he slowly over 5 years rebuilt the life he had and then he began surpassing his own expectations.
He had become a man on a mission, and a visionary. As he strengthened his insides with sobriety, he began strengthening his body as well. MMA had become his new outlet. And he went into it the same way he did everything else–with an open mind and a willingness to ask for help, to say, “I don’t know how to do this, teach me.”
And while having an open mind is key to getting sober, it gives you an edge as a fighter. He explained to me how it made him better. “It helped me so much with marital arts, I had such an open mind, because I was trustworthy. Instead of being like oh, I know about fighting, I am a street fighter, I was like I know nothing, teach me.”
“I am so open minded to different types of things. Like a lot of fighters are like I oh I am just a wrestler or I am just a boxer or I am just gonna train with this coach or that coach. I am like I am going to get the most knowledge from all the people around me and use it to my benefit. I think I am the next generation of fighter, because I have such an open mind with learning and trusting people to help me.”
Making him not only the person he is today but also a fighter with an edge–a fighter with humility.
And the resolve as well as the humility seems to run in the family.
Charles’ dad, has started something that has really taken off, it is called Chucky’s Fight. “When my brother’s passed away we scattered the ashes in the ocean. So my dad started jumping in the ocean every day as his way of coping with it. And people started going to watch him because he would do it even in the winter. That is how he got the idea to start Chucky’s Fight.” People can donate and jump in the water as well for Chucky’s Fight.
And what do they do? “It’s an organization to educate teens and help educate parents on substance abuse, and regular stuff for when parents don’t know what to do. Like for when a parent needs help for their kid but they don’t have the money, they will call my dad, and he will use the money he has raised to send them to treatment.”
And as for Charles’, he will never forget where he came from and what it took to get where he is now.
He told me a few things being where he is now–what he would say to anyone who is struggling or believes they “can’t”
“Anything is possible. Anything you set your mind to you can do. If you truly put 100% of your effort into anything you can be anything you want. If you just put all your time into it. Some people are like oh I could never be a doctor or I could never do that, but if you woke up every morning and you wanted to be a doctor and you studied from the second you woke up to the second you went to bed, you could be halfway through med school in 5 years, ya know what I am saying? If you put the work in you can do anything. You might have to work harder if you’re not as smart as somebody, but you could do it.”
“I don’t think I am a naturally gifted athlete. I am just a regular kid, but I just worked so much harder. I put 100% into it and I did it every single day and I got to where I am now. And after learning martial arts and through recovery that if you put your mind to something and you do it as hard as you can, you can be whatever you want to be. I feel like if I did anything else I could do that too, because of what I learned through this experience.”