Those crazy things fans do

Rich Franklin
Photo by Rich Franklin

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 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, 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.

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