The member of Parliament for Yukon is using his past life as a mixed martial arts fighter to help battle bullying among young people.
As part of a national anti-bullying campaign, Ryan Leef launched his mixed martial arts program at a workshop in Carmacks, Yukon, Saturday. He said it’s not a contradiction to use fight training in an anti-bullying program, and that it's the other traits of MMA he wants to see resonate as part of his workshop, including a clear understanding of self-responsibility, calmness, and social mindfulness.
"The violent component of it is only a very small aspect of the sport, and certainly less injurious than some of the other sports I've been involved in in my life," he said.
"I've taken a few heavy hits in hockey and other things that have taken a lot longer for me to recover than from some arm bars or a few punches."
Leef had a brief career in ultimate fighting with two bouts to his credit. He has also worked as a corrections superintendent at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, an RCMP officer and a conservation officer.
While he has put MMA aside for his new job as a Conservative MP, Leef said he still incorporates the training in his daily routine, which is attracting attention on Parliament Hill.
"I have a bit of gym in my office to promote healthy lifestyle and active living and fitness which I think is a real important thing for Canadians to be involved in," he said. "Parliamentarians should lead the way with that.
"So I've got the heavy bag, a speed bag in my office and some mats to kind of encourage people with that. Yeah, my colleagues talk about it a fair bit, but I think they celebrate it. It's a good thing."