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Ben Tynan Reflect On Road To Emerging As A Top Heavyweight Talent at ONE Championship

Ben Tynan

Black Belt Plus

Ben Tynan will try to continue to impress when he returns to ONE Championship on Friday, April 5, at ONE Fight Night 21. The heavyweight is looking to break into the division's upper echelon with a follow-up performance to his dominant debut against Duke Didier.

But before he makes his walk to the ring in Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, Tynan is reflecting on the path that brought him to the global stage.

"My father was from northern Canada. My mom was raised in Hawaii, and he met her on vacation. He was a dorky-looking tourist guy, but he had a lot of game and convinced her to move to Canada. Which is a shocker because Fort McMurray is way up there away from everything," Tynan told ONE.

"But yeah, they had five kids. I'm the youngest of them all. The best looking of them all. But I got some really cool siblings, and we're all super close."

"Vanilla Thunder" credits his family for his penchant for combat sports. He has felt like it is a part of his being and not just a profession.

Tynan also noted the outside influences that helped spark that passion from what he saw in media growing up.

"I've always liked fighting. I feel like I'm bred for combat, it's in my DNA. I come from a lot of fighters. My dad was a fighter," Tynan recalled.

"He died when I was a little kid. So I was raised by my mom and my older siblings. It was cool having them mentor me, but at the same time, having five kids, we were rough on each other. That definitely toughened me up too."

"But yeah, I think there's so many things [that influenced me]. 'Dragonball Z' is one of them. And I watched so much professional wrestling as a kid, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and The Rock, and I used to always be like, 'It'd be cool to be a professional wrestler!'"

After losing his father at an early age, Tynan drew inspiration from his siblings. Attempting to be like his oldest brother would move him to take the first step in his martial arts journey.

"My oldest brother was like my father figure. He wrestled a year in high school, and I often followed in his footsteps. So, I decided, 'Alright, I'm gonna wrestle too,'" the Canadian remarked.

"My family weren't really wrestlers. I come from a track family. My mom was runner-up in State for sprints. She ran in college. My sisters and my brothers too. I grew up going to track meets my whole life. But I always liked wrestling, so I stuck with it."

Tynan found success on the mats, but it was different from the traditional journey for an athlete in the sport. The man who would become known as "Vanilla Thunder" did not compete until he was in junior high.

However, his dedication to the sport is a blueprint for all athletes to follow, showing the importance of what hard work can achieve.

"I started wrestling late. Most of the guys that compete at the D-1 [college] level were going to wrestling tournaments since they could walk. I didn't start until the seventh grade," Tynan stated.

"I was a late bloomer. I didn't get my growth spurt till my junior year of high school, and that's when I grew over six feet. And by my senior year, I was wrestling at 182, but I didn't notice things really clicking."

"I remember I got done with the state tournament in Washington in my senior year. And I performed great, I placed fifth – I didn't do as good as I wanted to, I wanted to win it – but I remember my sister coming to me, and she was like, 'Ben, I feel like you're just hitting your stride. This is so great.'"

"Luckily, I was able to walk onto the junior college team and prove myself there. It was right towards the end of high school when I started to get more confidence."

While focused on his wrestling, Tynan got his first taste of MMA when he arrived in college.

His coaches were already competing and training in the sport. After watching them prepare after practices, Tynan got the itch to learn more skills and began developing his all-around tool set.

"When I was at junior college, my coach Scott Norton fought MMA, and my other coach Brad Luvaas also fought MMA. They had professional fights. After wrestling practices, the coaches would do their own striking," the heavyweight said.

"I remember coming up to them after my first season, and I was like,' Hey, I really want to try learning some striking and MMA.' Scott was like, 'Sure, Tynan,' so he would just teach me the basics."

"I started working with them, and then I started going to an MMA gym, Ring Demon, right there in the Seattle area. That got the spark going and got me excited for fighting."

After transferring to North Dakota State and completing his wrestling career, Tynan decided to enter the world of MMA. First, it was in the amateur ranks, where an 8-0 record gave him the confidence to turn pro.

The wins kept coming with a 4-0 start on the regional circuit. Then came the call he was looking for, as ONE Championship offered him a contract to join the global stage.

"I always liked ONE, and [I was in the audience when] they came here to Denver. A few months later, I had them calling me up wanting me to fight for them," Tynan said.

"I was really excited about the way they put on their shows and just the energy from it. So the second I got that call, I was like, 'Let's do this.'"

After a strong debut against Kang Ji Won, Tynan has emerged as one of the sport's top heavyweight prospects.

Another dominant win at ONE Fight Night 21 could prove he is ready for the elite of the division, and give the heavyweight division another strong and exciting contender who is always looking for the finish.

"I have huge plans. I plan on being a World Champion. I plan on being one of the best heavyweights to ever do it. So, I figured I'd do it with ONE," Tynan said.

"I want to keep climbing. I want to line these guys up. So, after this one, I want the next toughest guy you can get. I want to climb until I get that belt."

ONE Fight Night 21 airs live on Prime Video on Friday, April 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The event is free for all Amazon Prime members in the U.S. and Canada.

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