2016-12-03 / Sports

Tap in to the life of Eli ‘Danger Mouse’ Leland

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Assistant Sports Editor

PORTLAND-- They announce him as Eli ‘Danger Mouse’ Leland, but it wasn’t always that way.

“I realized real quick that stuff needed to change and that wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted,” said Eli Leland, reflecting on the journey that brought him to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting more than eight years ago. 

 Leland was working two jobs consisting of 10-hour shifts each when he walked into The Academy of Mixed Martial Arts in Portland and his life changed.

“I remember training for the first time, wrestling. I remember right next to me there was a guy climbing up and down ropes in an L-seated position without using his legs, some kind of crazy gymnast. Next to him was some dude hitting a giant truck tire with a sledgehammer, over and over, and in the far back there was a bunch of people doing MMA training and taking lessons from coach Jay Jack. Everybody else in the room is just trying to choke each other and kill each other and I was like, ‘this is my home,’” Leland laughs.

It was a turning point in Leland’s life. He says he realized that he wanted more for himself.

“I said, ‘do I want to take my work ethic and put it toward something I actually care about so that I can be as good as everybody says I am?’ I was always told I was an extremely hard worker and I chose to change my focus to something I love.”

 What started out as three days a week quickly turned to five, and, “now I teach there, I train there, I fight out of there. It’s pretty much my home.”

More than seven years since that decision finds Leland fighting in the New England Fights (Lewiston) Bantam 135 weight class.  

Leland took the hard work he had been applying to unfulfilling careers and put his efforts toward learning mixed martial arts under the watchful eye of coach Jay Jack. 

“I have always been this tiny little guy, I’m the smallest one in my group, I’ve always been an extremely hard worker. I had a very good feeling that if I put my mind to this I would do well at this,” said Leland. 

 He has succeeded. Leland battles opponents who make occasional appearances in the next-tier league, Bellator. Leland’s plan is to fully dedicate his mind and body to accomplishing his athletic goals in the ring this year. 

“I’m not going to drink. I’m not going to eat crappy food as much as possible, I’m just going to focus on training. I’m really going to pay attention to my recovery. I’m just going to take as many fights as I can. I’m not going to say no to any competitions, smokers, boxing matches, whatever. I’m just going to go straight through, so ideally this next year I’m going to be fighting quite a bit. I’m going to try to get enough money saved up from my purse and from sponsors to start looking toward owning a gym myself.”

 Having accomplished already formidable goals, Leland has his eye on a future prize: his own gym. Leland already teaches out of the Mixed Martial Arts Academy.

“While I’m training every day of the week I have a different private lesson with a different group of people and I go through a curriculum with them that coach Jay Jack has developed. I work with them to not only drill for myself to study the postions and learn better, but to create better athletes. So it’s like a two birds with one stone kind of deal. Ideally, in the next year anything could happen. Long term, I would like to own my own gym and I would like to train people. Fighting is something that I love doing, so I’m just going to keep doing it until I don’t want to do it anymore.”

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