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What Drove Eddie Alvarez To Become "The Underground King"

December 27, 2018

Eddie Alvarez is not shy to admit that he did not start his career in mixed martial arts simply because he loved competing. He simply needed to make a better life for himself, and there was only one way he knew how to do it – with his fists.

After all, growing up in a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Alvarez saw the best and worst in life. He was surrounded by good working class people, but also lived in a drug-ridden area that saw a startling amount of violence.

His parents still gave him everything they could through his childhood, but when he turned 18, they decided to move away. That left a young Alvarez and his siblings to fend for themselves.

“My parents moved out of the house I grew up in, and I stayed in Kensington at 18 years old, and I had to get a job,” Alvarez explains. “I had to split the bills with my siblings, and I made it work.

“I needed to figure out a way to get myself out of there, and out of that neighborhood, because I felt my calling was greater than to just work a job every day and make ends meet.

“Fighting gave me that outlet. It was something I was always gifted in, something I always enjoyed with competing, and that was my way out.”

In high school, Alvarez competed in wrestling, but his biggest lessons were learned on the streets where he had to defend himself on a daily basis.

Alvarez knew he was good with his fists, and through wrestling, he started to learn how to grapple. But more than anything else, he had a fire burning inside of him to get out of his current situation and forge a better future.

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Its Christmas time

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To add on to his growing motivation, Alvarez married his high school sweetheart, and by 20 years of age, they were expecting their first child.

“I had a wife, and I had a child that I didn’t want to disappoint,” Alvarez says. “I wanted my wife to have everything she deserved, so that was huge for me. I got moving. I got motivated.

“I’ve always been motivated, but that took me to another level – wanting to create a life for me and my children. I felt like we deserved it. I felt like I wasn’t going to let any opportunity slip by.”

As the years passed, Alvarez made a name for himself around the world as he became a champion in every major organization he competed in.

He made good on his promise to give his family everything he never had as a child, and as time passed, Alvarez also realized that his reasons for competing had changed.

Alvarez was still providing for his family, but he truly started to appreciate the martial arts aspect of his job, and why he loved to do it.

“When I was 19, I just wanted to absolutely crush everything that was in front of me, just to prove I was the baddest on the planet,” Alvarez says.

“I truly believed that. I actually thought that no one in the world could beat me in a fight. When I was 19, there was no one who could convince me that I could lose a fight.

“Years later, I just realized I truly loved to fight, and I believed in it, and it made me a better person. There were things beyond it (fighting), more than just beating up the guy in front of me. It just got into my roots and got into my soul.

“It was something that I wanted inside me, in my soul – to become a true martial artist and not a street fighter. This is more of a belief or a religion for me that I can speak passionately about for hours.

“It’s a lot deeper than just a fight for me as a 35-year-old man than as a 19-year-old kid.”

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Alvarez says figuring out why you are doing what you are doing is perhaps the most important question any martial artist can ask themselves, and the answer is truly what should define them.

His answer has changed dramatically over the years, but Alvarez is more satisfied now than ever before with his reason for being a martial artist.

“I think the difference between a fighter and a martial artist is the martial artist has a very good, strong answer for doing what they’re doing every day,” Alvarez says.

“I just know that there’s not a better way to challenge yourself as a man, as a human being, than to do what we’re doing. This (martial arts) is the ultimate form of honesty.”

The next stage of Alvarez’s incredible journey takes place on 31 March 2019 at ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo. He faces Timofey Nastyukhin in the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix upon his ONE Championship debut.