Contributor: Marta Gallo
When I decided I was going to write an I Love Gray Maynard piece, I figured I should research some interesting tidbits to tell you about him. It couldn’t only be about his awesome dogs after all. What I discovered is that there are a lot of reasons why I love Gray Maynard. While his sister Misty is quick to rattle off the statistics she has complied on Gray’s fights and opponents, I wanted more than that.
Gray finds himself in sunny California these days. Needing a change of pace after his last fight with Frankie Edgar, he left Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas and settled down at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. There you will find him riding a bike adorned with a basket, following behind good friend Martin Kampmann.
Clearly, this is a man that doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Bring up wrestling though, and you will experience his passion for the sport. Quick to talk about the good values that wrestling teach an individual, on his social media you will find his nephew wearing his first pair of wrestling shoes, mean-muggin’ for the camera.
Wrestling is in his blood. Named after his father’s idol, Gray Simons, it was wrestling that brought him into the MMA world. He wrestled alongside Rashad Evans at Michigan State University. Relating a story of when they were team captains, he talks about a drunk man staggering into their room at 2am. Initially thinking it was another wrestler coming to check his weight, Gray instead wakes up to a naked man he’s never seen before in his life. Gray relates the rest of the story, “For like the last two years in college I didn’t have my front teeth, they got knocked out in a match. So this dude–who is drunk as shit, passed out–wakes up and looks at us, and he sees a big black dude and a crazy white dude with no teeth, and he’s looking around disoriented, and he’s buck naked except for black socks. He had a cheesy homemade tattoo. We were throwing things at him. Then he started trying to put on my clothes. We’re like slapping his hand, and I swear we were close to beating the shit out of him.”
The match that he lost his two front teeth? Northern Iowa Open, Griff Powell from Illinois lands an elbow midway through their match. Gray went to his coach, spit out the teeth, and went back out. He won in overtime, and went on to win the tournament. Gray Maynard is a tough bastard.
Here is where the contradiction comes in…try balancing that image with Gray in a bath robe, adorable baby girl and aging bull terrier asleep on his lap. He sits, updating his Twitter about the adopting a dog:
Hank, a bull terrier, muzzle whitening with age, sleeps dutifully by Gray’s side. Estella, Gray’s daughter, lays on her canine protector. Hank use to be Tank. Gray found him chained in a neighbors backyard along with a couple American pit bull terriers. Being neglected and abused and living with a suspected dog fighter, Gray rescued him. Incidentally, this is also where Gray’s nickname comes from, of course. Tank was in need of training. Who better to do it than a disciplined wrestler? Along came Ruka, a sweet female bull terrier, as a companion for Hank.
You will find picture after picture like this. Gray and his dogs playing at the beach. Hiking in Santa Cruz. Riding in the car, heads hanging out the window. In bed, snuggled up together. Hank laying on his back, all paws in the air, in between Gray and his father. Dressed up for Halloween. At the gym with Gray. “Helping” him sign autographs. My point is, they are completely a part of his life. They are family to Maynard. Like wrestling, you can tell there is a lot of passion for his dogs. He makes appearances to raise money for It’s the Pits, making sure all the proceeds went to the charity. Though, they mistakenly claim Maynard has a pittie. Let me tell you from personal experience, a bull terrier is much different from a pit bull terrier. [Ed Note: proud Pit Bull owner, can confirm.] Very similar in lineage, very different in personality, but I digress.
That is Gray Maynard. In wrestling he dedicated himself to the highest level of competition. In MMA, he trains everywhere and any time to develop new skills. He is also refreshingly straightforward. “I think having an open mind and being grounded about who you are is the best. To know your abilities, and then to pick and choose what can apply to you. I know I’m not Anderson Silva. So, I’m not going to try and be like him.” There is no ego, only a goal. A goal he will take one step closer to on Saturday night. I know who my household will be rooting for.
-Marta can be reached via paper airplane.