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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

UFC legend reveals actor helped him in journey back to Catholicism

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Famer and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten has revealed that actor Kevin James helped him return to Catholicism, which in turn helped him to confront his heavy drinking problem.

Rutten, a Dutch-American who was born and grew up in the Netherlands but now lives in the US, recently revealed that, as his mixed martial arts career started coming to an end, he began starring alongside American actor Kevin James on sitcom The King of Queens and various films.

While on the set of a film, James, who Rutten described as “a good devout Catholic”, invited Catholic speakers to give a talk.

“It changed my life,” Rutten told Anthem Philly, an Archdiocese of Philadelphia youth project, in a video uploaded on YouTube.

Rutten, who won the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 1999 and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2015, admitted that faith had been in his life as a child, as he was baptised and confirmed, but, from the age of 12, his family stopped going to church.

“We did weekly church first and then I remember that we went at Christmas and then my dad said if we only go at Christmas that’s a charade,” he said.

However, after listening to the Catholic speakers on the movie set, Rutten revealed that he started reading the Bible, whilst simultaneously listening to an audio recording, as he believed it would help him to remember what he had read.

Rutten revealed that the first time he felt “changed” by the Bible was upon reading and realising that he was “enslaved to drinking”.

Rutten said he recalled thinking: “I’m not a slave to anything – nothing controls me, God controls me, I’ll give that up, but nothing else is going to control me.

“I was a heavy drinker, it stopped me from drinking and now I’ve got moderation, something I never had in my life,” he added.

“The thing about Catholicism is that as soon as you start learning about it – relearning it – you’re hooked,” he said. “Everybody is looking for the truth, you have nothing to lose, but you have everything to gain.”

Recalling that he used to ask his students how they would want to be remembered, Rutten said: “It’s not about getting that championship belt, it’s about getting the recognition from your peers. Now if that is very important to me, why don’t I want the recognition from God and be the ultimate good guy? Be a badass, but on top of that be a good person. I think there’s nothing more important.”

Picture: Bas Rutten. (BlackPanther/ABACA USA/PA).