You may not watch MMA fighting but you will likely become a fan of Oklahoma City fighter Justin Wren when you hear his story.
He has a big fight Friday night at the WinStar.
Wren fights under the name The Big Pygmy. That is actually the name that was given to him by his tribal family in the Congo.
Even though, at 6 foot 3 inches, 265 pounds, a blond mixed martial arts fighter Wren has very little physically in common with his Pygmy tribe.
“We’re so different looking but our hearts are really deeply connected,” said Wren. “It’s been such a blessing to become family with them.”
That family is the reason Justin is back in the cage, but getting there would take a detour to the other side of the world.
Nearly a decade ago, Wren was a rising star in the MMA, but an injury led to an addiction to pain killers then cocaine and alcohol.
“For my first 13 or 15 fights, I was a drug addict," he recalled.
After finding his faith and getting clean, Wren said a vision led him deep into the rain forest of the Congo.
“These people, I started crying when I met them. It sounds nuts. It felt nuts,” he said.
It's there he found a heart for the people and their suffering.
“Little boy named Andy Bo, He passed away. I actually held him in my hands and dug his grave and it, just like anyone, it ripped me open and it ripped my heart apart,” he said.
Justin has returned to the Congo many times since working with the Oklahoma City based Water 4 to provide the training and tools to help the people there drill water wells. He's also moved to Oklahoma City to be able to work closer with the charity and become their spokesperson.
After five years off, he's back to fighting, but this time he's making sure everyone knows what he's fighting for.
“When I win, I get the mic and when I get the mic I tell people what’s truly important which is my family there and my team that’s drilling the wells,” Wren said.
Wren also donates his winning bonuses to the cause.