Still struggling with Boston bombings, UFC's White bolstered by American spirit


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dana-white-97.jpgUFC President Dana White arrived in Boston some time between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. on Sunday, slept a couple hours and awoke with the goal of giving back to the city where he’d done a lot of growing up.

Soon after a pair of alleged domestic terrorists bombed the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding hundreds at the finish line of the April 15 race, White pledged his help. But how exactly he would do that, he didn’t know. 

He still didn’t necessarily have a clear idea when he touched down, just hours after the conclusion of UFC 159, other than that he planned to distribute checks from the UFC, FOX and himself to charity and those affected by the tragedy. 

“So I started reaching out to personal families that were involved in this thing and started reaching out to the mayor,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “The one thing I realized immediately is that people were pretty messed up.”

White, who spent his early 20s in South Boston as a boxer and trainer, was deeply rattled when he learned of the bombing during a meeting with executives from UFC parent company Zuffa. Several weeks later, he’s still upset by the senseless loss of life and the surreality of seeing his adopted home town attacked. 

“I’ve stood where the people were standing when those bombs went off,” he said. “I’ve been walking up and down that street so many times.”

In the midst of pondering the alleged bombers’ motives, the often hot-headed exec stopped himself. 

“This is most I’ve talked about it,” White said. “I hate talking about it. You know how I can get. I start to go in that direction, and I don’t want to do that in the media.”

White wanted to meet families of those affected by the tragedy and give out his donations in person, but quickly changed his mind after a conversation with a family friend representing a victim.

White said the man told him he deeply appreciated the gesture, but said it was too soon for a face-to-face meeting. They’d been considering a meeting that day, but the last thing White wanted to do was intrude.

“You do your thing, and I apologize for even wasting your time,” White told him. “I don’t even know what the hell I was thinking. This thing happened a week ago, and I’m calling people? I got a little too carried away and a little too ahead of myself. I should have just sent the check.”

So the UFC exec did just that, dropping off the UFC and FOX’s contributions to The One Fund, which benefits the victims of the bombing. So far, the fund has gathered nearly $30 million in donations. 

For much of the rest of the day, White used his Twitter account to meet up with Bostonians and give away UFC memorabilia. He got Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino to come out and sign team memorabilia for more giveaways. Victorino’s team won that day, as did the Boston Celtics. 

As White spent the day in his old home town, he got a reminder of the city’s indomitable spirit. 

“I learned a lot through this experience, and a lot of people have been supporting the people who were injured in this thing,” White said. “America has a lot of problems, one of them being there aren’t a lot of jobs out there. But when stuff like this goes down, a lot of people really did and support Boston – which I love about this country.” 

Still more support is needed. As reported by a Boston NBC affiliate, victims of the bombing face a lifetime of medical bills that could exceed insurance coverage. 

White, though, believes the $30 million raised for The One Fund is a positive start. 

“In two weeks, they raised $30 million,” he said. “I’ll bet that thing gets up to $50 million in the next month or so. Good stuff. That makes me happy.”

Asked whether he thinks the city will ever return to normal, White said next year’s Boston Marathon will be bigger than this year’s.

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