Strong arm of the law

Local cage fighter takes heavyweight title
By: Jon Brines Special to The Press-Tribune
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Longtime Roseville resident Rick Randolph is a police officer, Cub Scout leader and devoted family man with two small children and a loving wife but he has a secret passion: cage fighting. “At 30, I tell my wife, ‘I want to be a cage fighter,” Randolph said. “And she’s like, ‘OK whatever makes you happy.’” Randolph said he felt overweight and stressed out and turned to mixed martial arts to get back on track. Randolph devoted himself to Marinoble’s Martial Arts Center in Roseville to get in shape and learn everything he could. “If you come in with a sponge every night in your head ready to absorb everything that your coaches and your teammates throw at you, you are going to constantly improve,” said lead instructor Justin Ewen. “The more humble you are as a fighter the better you will get.” The competitive streak that led Randolph to wrestle at Roseville High School when he was a teenager quickly took over. “The only skill that I have is that I am tough,” Randolph said. “This (sport) challenges you.” Randolph earned the respect of sparring partners who have found him a relentless fighter. “He’s given me a couple of black eyes, broke my finger twice, torn my rotator cuff on my right shoulder and I can’t count the number of bruises and scratches,” said fellow fighter Jim Schuett. “He’s a good friend of mine. I don’t begrudge him of any of the injuries.” Cage fighting is a full contact sport where martial arts, wrestling and boxing techniques are allowed. While professional cage fighters can make from $1,000 to $400,000 per fight, for Randolph it wasn’t about the money or the fame. “Fighting is one of the purest things you can do,” Randolph said. “What’s more natural than hey, ‘you two are going to figure out who wins. This is it. Two guys. We have nothing between us but we’re going to figure this out.’” With nearly a dozen fights under his belt over the last four years, Randolph earned the opportunity to fight for the Gladiator Challenge World Heavyweight Championship last Saturday at the Placer County Fairgrounds. Going against Steve Walston of Bakersfield, Randolph said he knew it would be a cage fight that would only end if one was knocked out or gave up. Randolph struck first in the first of five, five-minutes rounds. “I cracked him pretty good right off the bat, in the eye,” he said. Randolph was wrestled to the ground by his competitor who quickly punched him in the face. “It wasn’t a knock-out punch but he clocked me good on the ground,” Randolph said. “I had to recover.” Fellow fighters agree, the moment a fighter is hit well is when the natural fight or flight instinct takes over and some fighters lose. “You have to block that out and think your way out of it,” Schuett said. Randolph said in those moments you learn a lot about yourself. He remembers one fight last year when he was in a desperate state of mind. He said he wanted to give up and remembered his 6-year-old son. “Everything is going black and I’m so tired,” Randolph said. “I wanted to quit. I remembered I had a conversation with my son about doing something he didn’t want to do because it was too hard. How can you talk to your boy about that? So I didn’t give up. I ended up winning the fight.” And on Saturday, he used that strength on his opponent one more time. Randolph locked his arms and legs around Walston and squeezed. “Once I got my hands around him, I felt like I could control him,” he said. “Once he spun around I took his back and clocked him real good two or three times. I heard him breathing hard and I knew he couldn’t last very long.” After three minutes and 20 seconds, Walston quit, and the fight was over. “Every time I tried to move he hit me,” said Walston after the fight. Now the victor, Randolph kissed his wife and held the oversized gold heavyweight championship belt high above his head. “I’m proud of him,” said his wife Sally. “He worked so hard.” While his victory brings him to a new level in his sport, what he gets from every fight is much more real to him. Randolph said fighting brings him physical peace. “People don’t understand but fighting is a very peaceful feeling,” he said. “I equate it to several times in my life; when I found out my wife was pregnant, when the kids were coming or when I knew I wanted to get married. All those times when you have a moment of clarity when everything is focused.” Randolph prides himself in knowing most people in Roseville don’t know his dream come true and he’s fine with that. “If people know, I don’t care,” he said. “This is for me.”