By Angela HamerlinckApril 17, 2008
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- When Ryan McGivern walks into a meeting at the Joint Munitions Command headquarters with black eyes, fat lips, stitches and bruises, his coworkers don't think twice about what he's been up to...McGivern has just been in another fight. But it's not the type of fight most people would think of if they saw him.
McGivern, 28, is a mixed martial artist and the current International Fight League middleweight champion. The International Fight League, as explained by McGivern, is an American mixed martial arts league, but instead of one-on-one matchups, each IFL card is a competition between two camps. Each camp is made up of at least three fighters who belong to one of six weight classes, ranging from 145 to 265 pounds.
McGivern, at a weight of 185 pounds, belongs to Miletich's Fighting System, one of six camps located throughout the U.S. MMA is a combat sport that combines fundamentals of several fighting styles into one all-inclusive sport. The fighting styles in MMA include wrestling, kickboxing, tae kwondo, judo, jiujitsu and karate, said McGivern.
On Feb. 29 in a live-televised broadcast, McGivern won the middleweight championship in Las Vegas, Nev. With a record of 12 wins and five losses, McGivern will defend his title on May 16 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
When asked about his championship win, McGivern said, "I'm just happy I finished and never gave up. I was going to be happy no matter the outcome, but I am happy that I won the belt. I also feel it was an answered prayer that I was able to keep focused throughout all five rounds. The reason I was able to win was because I knew my family and teammates were watching from home. That filled me with the confidence I needed to focus on a positive outcome."
A championship win doesn't come easily. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Being born into a wrestling family, McGivern's career started at an early age. With 18 years of wrestling experience, including participation on his high school wrestling team and wrestling for the University of Iowa, McGivern used his prior knowledge and experience to become a mixed martial artist in October 2004.
During the six weeks prior to a fight, McGivern's schedule is very hectic. Starting each weekday at 5:30 a.m. in the gym, McGivern's workout lasts for an hour before he heads to work, but that is not the only workout he does each day. After putting in eight hours at work, McGivern returns to Pat Miletich's gym in Bettendorf, Iowa, and practices for at least two hours. When asked how he balances his life, McGivern says he owes a lot to his wife, Susan.
"It is because of her that I am able to do what I love. She definitely helps me stay on top of my schedule and helps me get my mind straight leading up to the competition."
Between workouts, the JMC employee works as a general engineer in the industrial base division with the command's Munitions Logistics and Readiness Center. McGivern has been working at the Joint Munitions Command for four years as an action officer for mortars and artillery items. In this capacity he also works with Milan Army Ammunition Plant, located in Milan, Tenn., on various projects in support of the production facilities.
McGivern decided to work at JMC because it was a good opportunity and it felt like a good atmosphere.
"I would like to stay here. I enjoy what I do and it works out nice for me because annual leave and a supportive supervisor allow me to continue to be a mixed martial artist," said McGivern.
With one year left on his IFL contract, McGivern would like to continue on with his government and IFL careers.
"I want to make a run and continue. I'm very blessed and thankful for what I have been given, what I have accomplished, and the encouragement and support I get from my team, family and coworkers," he said.