A support system is a vital aspect for many fighters. Whether it be family or friends, a lot of fighters on the big stages and small rely on others to get through the rigors of preparation. For M-1 Global’s Daniel Swain, his situation is a bit more complicated.
Of course, the Spokane, Washington fighter has a support system. One that helps him push through his training. Especially so during the midst of his return to the M-1 Rage following injury. What is different for Swain is his who and what relies on him. Fairly recently Swain and his dedicated wife added a massive undertaking win their lives. Not just one that drains the two of time and energy but one that is vastly important to their community and inner selves.
“My boys are foster boys. So I haven’t had them their entire life. I’ve had two of them for just over a year and one of them just over two months now. Instilling that relying on yourself to get things done is good for them because they’ve had to experience tough stuff already in their life and to take those lessons from sports and put it towards life is a great thing.”
Operating outside yourself isn’t a simple task by any means. Which is why, for a professional mixed martial artist fighting for one of the top international organizations, such selflessness is not only admirable but downright perplexing. Perplexing in the sense that the sport of MMA is so solitary that everyday life between home and the gym becomes a dichotomy of sorts for Daniel Swain.
In one moment, the former NCAA wrestler is in deep focus drilling technique, in the another, he is a father to three foster boys. While becoming a foster parent is an emotionally rewarding task, it doesn’t negate the tireless hours required in raising foster children.
“It’s been a struggle. I really couldn’t do this without my amazing wife. She is really, she is the glue that holds this whole thing together. I would not be able to get to train the way I get to train and when I get to train with the training partners I have if it wasn’t for her being able to not only teach 26 kids throughout the day and then come home and then raise our very struggling kids sometimes. It’s a teamwork thing.”
Coupled with Swain and his wife’s role as foster parents, they are creating a non-for-profit that aims to attack a similar problem. Seeing the issues of poverty, homelessness, and the foster care system got the Swains into the idea of becoming foster parents. Mrs. Swain works as an elementary school teacher and that is where the problem became evident to both of them.
“My wife is a third-grade teacher. Was a third-grade teacher, she’s fifth grade now. Shes in one of the poorer schools in Spokane and we saw a lot of need for it. We started looking into and we had just bought a house and we had a bunch of rooms that we planned to fill with kids someday but we weren’t ready for that yet. So we decided to start foster and it just snowballed into now my wife and I are starting a non-for-profit organization that we just raised a bunch of money to get off the ground.
We saw a need for it here in Spokane and we’re working towards trying to fix one of the biggest problems we have in not only Spokane but the nation in our foster program. There is a lot of underfunding and not having enough homes. We are working towards helping these kids be better members of society when they get out of the foster care system and they are adults. Because the statistics are pretty damning for the foster care system it shows a lot of unguided children becoming adults and not knowing what to do with themselves. Not having the guidance they need. So we are working towards fixing that problem, starting in Spokane and hopefully growing bigger and bigger.”
All within a year, at the same time as training, rehabbing from an injury, and preparing for a return the Swains have done something amazing. In a sport where athletes are selfish and take everything they can (by necessity), the Swains have done as much to give back.
“(The organization is) called Spokane Angels, its a branch of Nations Angels which started as Austin Angels in Austin, Texas. So my wife is heading down for training five days before I leave, she heads out to Austin. There is this program, it’s almost like a mentor system where kids get paired with a mentor type person. That mentor helps take care of them in everyday life situations or make sure that they’re acknowledged on their birthdays or special events. If they have special interests like sports or music the mentor would help and the program would help provide the necessary equipment.
Then it also has a dare to dream program for the older foster kids who are on the verge of aging out of the foster care system and those are the really at-risk kids. Those are the kids who might not know what to do when they age out of the system and they’re not going to have all the benefits that they had as a teenager. What are they going to do? Are they going to college? Do they want to learn a trade? Really guiding them in what they want to do with their life and how they can be the best they can be.”
Living Outside of Daniel Swain
For Daniel Swain it boils down to a simple fact; what is his impact and is it positive? Not many people in the world have this outlook, let alone someone in such a solitarily focused profession such as fighting.
“You try to be as outside of yourself as you can but I’m still human, I still have my flaws. Sometimes I might not do things the appropriate way or the best way. but I always remember that I’m not doing things for me, I’m doing things for my family, for my boys, for other people. I try to make sure that at the end of the day, my accomplishments are one thing but the real accomplishment is; did I make the world better by the time I left. Am I doing something to make this place better? Being kind is something that my wife and I really believe in and that’s what we try to instill in our boys. Just be kind and Try to make everything around you better. If you can make everything around you better well have a much better world to live in.”
M-1 Challenge 100
Swain returns to action Saturday for M-1 Global. The Washington resident travels to China for M-1 Challenge 100 where he faces promotional newcomer Maxim Pashkov. This return for Swain comes off the heels of a quick injury lay-off. He is confident in the matchup, outweighing his opponent in several categories including experience. After an impressive performance in another new country, Swain figures to place himself back into the title conversation.