Football, dirt biking, hockey, and friends. Teddy Ash had the usual lifestyle you would expect of a teenager.
But at 19 years old, his life took an unexpected turn, right before his eyes. He and three friends were involved in a canoeing accident, in which two of them passed away after drowning.
“It was a pretty traumatic experience for a 19-year-old,” recalled Ash.
“I did a lot of things wrong after that; I put myself in mega debt, and I was definitely an alcoholic for many years.”
As expected after such a somber experience, Ash, now 28, said he went through some dark times, and had a great deal of pent up emotions and demons inside him.
But three years later, Ash discovered his escape.
After being a highly-touted high school football player, and playing four years with the Vancouver Island Raiders, winning back-to-back national titles and four BCFC championships, Ash decided to give MMA a try, competing in his first amateur bout in 2012.
He went on to compete three more times as an amateur, before turning professional in 2013 where he’s amassed a 10-3 record and counting. Ash said MMA has played a huge part in his rebound, and is something he’ll continue to do the rest of his life.
“It’s an internal thing for me. I’m not doing it for the fame; I’m doing it for me and the internal battles I have.
“It’s my outlet from any type of demon I have inside me that haunts me. It’s like a complete getaway, and I really do need it in my life.”
Homegrown in Fort McMurray
Ash grew up in Fort McMurray, Alta., and lived there nearly his entire life before recently moving to Edmonton to progress his MMA career.
He said growing up in Fort McMurray, it was a tight-knit community where everyone knew each other. While it’s grown in size since his childhood days, he said most people still know what he went through as a teenager.
Since turning professional, Ash has fought three times in Fort McMurray, and said it never ceases to amaze him the support he receives.
“I have my whole city backing me up. Everyone in town knows what happened, and what we went through over losing our friends.
“I always have the loudest crowd there at every fight. It’s awesome.”
Prior to his first MMA fight, Ash was set on looking to further his football career by taking the CIS route.
He even had aspirations of eventually playing professional football down the road. But that all changed once he had his hand raised in the cage for the first time.
“After my first amateur fight in Fort McMurray, that was it. I was all done with football.
“All the chips were in from that point on.”
Prior to his bout with Victor Valimaki on Sept. 29, 2017, Ash was still working a full-time job as a welder north of Fort McMurray, then making the drive to Edmonton for training sessions.
Since then, he’s quit welding job to train MMA full-time, and really see how far he can go.
“At that point, I knew I was getting into a new bracket of fighters and needed to train full-time.”
His next challenge will be long-time UFC veteran Matt Hamill, which will take place at Unified MMA 33 for the light heavyweight title.
He said to be able to share the cage with a legend like Hamill is going to be a true honour.
Matt Hamill (12-8) is fighting in Edmonton on May 11th against Canadian Teddy Ash (10-3) in the main event of #Unified33 per @unifiedmma Facebook page https://t.co/xqDd4Ydlrq pic.twitter.com/5Rq4HxggHl
— James Lynch (@LynchOnSports) March 15, 2018
“It’s pretty surreal knowing I used to watch this guy when I was in high school.”
Parents Give the Thumbs Up
Two of Ash’s biggest fans to this day remain his parents, Mary and Ted.
While they aren’t able to attend every one of their son’s fights, Ted said he’s seen enough of them to know his son has a real talent.
He said each fight he watches, Ash continues to progress and improve noticeably.
“The only thing I can see him doing from here on in is getting better and better at what he does,” said Ted.
“Will he win every single fight? I don’t know. But will he advance and improve after every fight? You bet.”
As parents, Ted said no one likes seeing their child get hurt. Initially, he and Mary were trying to understand why Ash insisted on the MMA route.
But like any wonderful parent would do, they supported him fully in his passion and journey, and continue to do so to this day.
“We’re 100 per cent behind him.
“This has become his dream, and his dreams are our dreams.”