“Living check to check and all that. I’ve been there. … I never want to go back to that.”
BY ROB FONT
Font, a UFC Bantamweight contender, told his story to writer Matteo Urella for DigBoston.
I come from a military family with a military background. I traveled around a lot, did all that. We finally settled down in Tampa, Florida. At that time is when my mom and dad split, so that’s pretty much why we stayed in Tampa. So basically we had my mom raising three kids, working two jobs—so I had a lot of time on my hands.
It was hard for her to lock me down, because she wouldn’t be home half the time anyways. So I got to go in and out; we kind of raised-ourselves-type thing. Kind of going in and out as I wanted to.
I lived in a complex in Florida, so there was a whole bunch of single mothers and we had a whole bunch of boys—all our boys and all the people in the neighborhood—we just had too much time on our hands. So first we’d all be playing basketball or football together. And obviously as we all got a little older, that all turned into experimenting. Alcohol, cigarettes, weed, and all that.
Once I started smoking weed and drinking, that was it—that was all I wanted to do. Wasn’t focused on school; had no real guidance. All I was looking to do was party. I would wake up and all I was trying to do: figure out how I was going to smoke, drink and talk to some chicks. That was it.
I was obviously a little lost. I don’t want to say I was a problem child, but we’d get into the stupid things: stupid fights, always hanging out until late night; sneaking around, sneaking out the house. Shit like that. That was basically how it started.
With that being said, I fell out of school. It kind of all happened at the same time: I got kicked out of school, then we got evicted from our apartment. So at the time, we were just living in a hotel. It was me, my older sister and younger brother at a hotel. Just trying to save up some money to get back into an apartment. So I was doing that, and we kind of thugged it out for about two and a half months. Sucked it up; just worked, worked, worked.
At the time, I was working two jobs: It was a Sonic Burger and a Krispy Burger [sic]. Just two months of doing straight doubles, all that stuff. We finally scraped up some change; we all kind of collectively put the money together for a down payment. She paid off the money we owed to the old apartment and got a first/last for the new apartment.
And at this whole time, she’s going to school to better her life. She was going to school to become a surgical tech; she did that. So we were all busting our ass, and when she got into school and got her job, things got a little better. Once we left the hotel and got an apartment, I got my GED and started fucking around. Still doing my thing—still partying and all that.
I got a job at the Pizza Hut, and was just working, delivering, getting my tips. Go buy some weed and shit, smoke that up. Drink as much as possible. In Florida, there’s a club or a bar or something to do every single night, so I was always just in that type of scene.
And boom: I ran into that garage, and it was it; it was over. I was like, This is what I got to do.
I was always saying I was going to go to the military—but I was just saying it. I would go to the recruiters kind of like, “You can’t pass the piss test.” So I’d say I was going to clean myself out and then obviously wouldn’t clean myself out.
I would say I was going to go to community college, but I was just saying it. I wasn’t really trying; I didn’t really want to do it. I was like, Fuck it—I’ll just do it for my mom. Because obviously she did it; I felt like I could do the same thing—why not? But I wasn’t taking it serious.
And then finally I ran into that garage, and it was over. I saw these guys doing their jiu jitsu and all that stuff, and just fell in love with it after that. Meant-to-be-type thing.
And my girl has always been holding me down as far as supporting me. I feel like I could say I wanted to be an astronaut today and she’d be like, Let’s do it. How do we get that done? And she finally kind of took me under her wing, so to say. Got behind me, and I finally came out to Massachusetts and just got serious. Got serious about it and took it to a different level.
I owe a lot of my grind to my mom. She had three kids, going to school, working two jobs, and was still holding it together. I saw how she grinds, so it stuck to me. I always had a job, I always had my own money, I always took care of things. I always had a car-type thing; it wasn’t like I was completely fucking up, or just living off my mom.
I just wasn’t progressing. I was just staying the same.
I was just at my mom’s house; 19 or 20 or whatever. Smoking weed, getting into the clubs and all that. I was getting into clubs at like 15, 16 years old. In Florida, you give some bullshit ID, drop the bouncer 20 dollars—you’re good for the night. I was hanging around a lot of older guys, so we always had a car.
It wasn’t an issue for me to get a bottle of Hennessy or whatever. It wasn’t an issue for me to get weed, or whatever. And in Florida, it’s sunny—there’s always people outside. On the beaches or the bars or clubs. Even in the apartment complexes: There’s always a basketball court or a park. We would just hang out on the stairs.
All of my boys were going through the same thing with single mothers. And we all kind of knew when we had to run home because our mom was on the way. So we would all fuck around and try to run home. We all knew how that worked, and obviously we would all take advantage of that. My mom would come home, do her thing; cook, scream at us to do our homework and all that—then she’d leave again.
And boom: I’d be right back out there.
Obviously she would send people to come check on me, check on us. And it sucked because I put a lot of that stress on my sister, because she would mainly take care of my brother and do her thing. And I would be like, “Fuck it—I’m out.” And just bounce.
But I would always make money. That’s one thing I made sure I did do: Food was there, we were straight with gas, all the light bills and all that got paid. But I just wanted to have fun; that was all I wanted to do. There was no motivation to do anything else. Definitely not go to school, definitely not really go to the military. It was just talking about it—not really taking it serious.
With MMA—I don’t know what happened; it just clicked. I just fell in love with it and that was it.
I was in a hotel. That was horrible. It was two beds: Me and my brother would share a room or bed, my mom would share a room or bed with my sister. We would have to wake up in the morning, walk to work, come back, get dropped off to my job. Constantly trying to stack money, stack money and get ahead.
I’ve been there; I know what it is to live in these complexes, live in these hotels. Paying rent and not really putting money towards a mortgage or whatnot. Pretty much just throwing your money away simply because you can’t put that down payment, or your credit’s not good enough.
Living check to check and all that. I’ve been there. Then I came out here: I’m living in a nice house, my girl is taking care of business with the house and all that. I never want to go back to that. After that and watching my Mom’s grind and motivation and constantly never giving up—and never really wanting to go back.
I never want to go back to that. I want to keep doing this and all the fun stuff that comes with it. That’s what keeps me driving, keeps me motivated, and keeps me going forward.
Rob’s next fight is 12.19.20, vs. Marlon Moraes.