In this column 'ONE Moment with Rich Franklin', ONE Championship's Vice President talks about his life lessons through the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA). The 'Ace' is a former World Middleweight Champion with a professional record of 29-7. This week, he shares the craziest fan experience he had.
I have been a sports fan my entire life but I was never one of those crazy fans that showed up to a game in the middle of the winter without a shirt with body paint in the color of the team I was supporting.
I have though, always had a tremendous amount of respect for that type of fan.
Those die-hard fans are willing to do whatever it takes to support their team, or whatever it takes to obtain an autograph from their favorite athlete.
I have never understood the importance of an autograph, or why they even hold any value for that matter.
I have always kept a level head about my own fame, telling people, "For every person on this planet who knows or even cares who I am, there must be at least 10 who don't."
However, working for ONE Championship, I am quite surprised how often I am recognized in countries like Myanmar, for example, where I was not even aware I had exposure.
I am moved when a fan approaches me speechless or shaking, requesting an autograph or picture...and yet I find it quite baffling as well.
I was a high school teacher who put my autograph on a piece of paper that a kid did not want to take home...it was called a report card.
Several years later, I could put that same autograph on a piece of paper and a kid would be willing to stand in line for several hours.
Fans will do much more than stand in line a few hours for an autograph.
They will wait at a hotel for days until they run into you. They will show up at your house. They will give their babies your name, ask you to high school proms, and once a man even asked me to shave my autograph into his back hair.
I could tell stories for hours of my crazy fan experiences.
I must say though, the craziest thing I have ever seen a fan do to show his support is to get ME tattooed on his leg.
I am not talking about just getting my autograph or logo tattooed on his body...no, no, no!
I am talking about a full portrait of my face.
When he came through my line at an appearance, they only thing I could think of saying is, "You do realize that is permanent?"
He responded with, "Yep, will you autograph below it so I can add it in?"
Once again, I was moved, yet baffled.