I had the great opportunity to meet Stephen Wonderboy Thompson approximately five years ago when we were both fighting at a professional MMA fight in Greenville South Carolina. A good friend of mine Brett Moses put on these events and I owe our introduction all to him. Brett has always been a huge military supporter and went out of his way to introduce me to the Thompson/Machado family. I had heard about Stephen and his amazing kickboxing career as well as his brother-in-law Professor Carlos Machado (one of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teachers in the world) prior to meeting him and like everyone else was extremely impressed. When I met Stephen, Professor Machado, and his father Mr. Ray Thompson (Mr. T) I was more impressed with who they were as great Americans and the fact that they were huge military supporters. Once they found out that I was a Marine, Mr. T and Carlos immediately started asking me questions about the Marine Corps and followed that up with an open invitation to come train with them in Simpsonville South Carolina at their Karate school called Upstate Karate.
I was so impressed with their entire family that within just two weeks I collected on the invitation and asked to come train with them in preparations for my next professional MMA fight. Mr. T answered and opened his house up to me for my first week of training and that is where I friendship began. I call the Thompsons my "South Carolina Family" and Mr. T my "South Carolina Father" and feel strongly about the fact that they really do treat you like family when you are around them.
Over the years Stephen, Professor Machado, and Mr. T have volunteered on numerous occasions to come spend time with AHERO at our Veteran events and have done so on numerous occasions while they were prepping for an upcoming fight. When I ask them if they are too busy to support AHERO or Veterans they continued response is "We are allowed to fight because our Veterans fought and sacrificed for us". Stephen and Mr. T also took the time out of their busy schedule to fly to South Africa in order to support two Marine amputee's on a hunting trip and really made it the hunt of a lifetime for those two veterans. When Mr. T, Professor Machado, and Wonderboy are at one of our events, they make the Veterans feel like they are the celebrity and really go out of their way to accommodate in any way possible.
Just recently Stephen and Mr. T had two Veterans as their personal guest at Stephens Main event fight against Jake Ellenberger at the MGM in Las Vegas Nevada. Even though it was Stephen's biggest fight to date, he took the time after weigh in's to meet the Veterans as well as ate dinner with them after and made them feel like they were a part of the family and Pitch Black Team (Mr. T's MMA Team).
With this great relationship I was also able to make a lifelong friend in Lex McMahon who was Stephen's MMA manager. Mr. T introduced me to Lex after finding out he was a Marine and Lex immediately came on board at AHERO and is now serving on the AHERO Executive Board as our Treasurer. Lex and the Thompson family work hard in order to set up events for our Veterans at UFC fights as well as Titan, truly giving them VIP treatment and thanking them for their service and sacrifice.
I am humbled and blessed to have Lex, Stephen, Professor Machado, Mr. T and the Thompson/Machado family in my life and look forward to saving lives with them in the future.