Rannoch sits down with Cameron Conaway, the “Warrior Poet” to discuss how the former MMA fighter became impassioned about ending Human Trafficking.
Originally appeared on SimpleStrength.com
I recently caught up with former MMA Fighter, author and activist Cameron Conaway, who is taking on his toughest opponent yet.
Rannoch - You truly are a maverick. MMA, poetry, human rights advocate. I have been following your posts on the Good Men Project and they highlight an incredible diversity, but I have to ask, how did you become involved in the fight to stop Human Trafficking?
Cameron - Thanks for the compliments, Rannoch. I believe I’m just a guy who cares like a poet and is driven like an athlete. Sometimes these extremes push me too far but they also help me achieve some things now and again. From 2003-2007 I studied criminal justice in college and, although it made me realize I didn’t want to work in law enforcement, it showed me just how complex and hidden crime could be. I always felt pulled by crimes that targeted society’s most vulnerable. Upon finishing my poetry master’s degree in 2009 I watched a documentary on slavery in the cocoa industry. From that point on I knew had to bring to this fight the skills I’d developed.
Rannoch – You have trained under Renzo Gracie, Eddie Bravo and Mac Danzig and you hold a 2 and 1 record in MMA. You talk in detail about this in your book “Caged – Memoirs of a Fighter Poet”. Are you still training and if so how does that discipline relate to the work you now do?
Cameron - I trained in muay Thai significantly here in Thailand, but my schedule has shifted more towards my writing career. Much of the training I do now is solo – yoga at home, running the apartment stairs, sprinting at the park, etc. The repetition of training, the feeling of going over the edge and the control to stop just short of collapse – it all helps me hear the music of words and maintain my work ethic. We see commercials of athletes working so hard they puke in buckets and I believe that writers, in their own way, can work just as hard.
Rannoch – I was talking recently with Coach CJ Swaby about the transformative power ofpoetry, of getting words on the page. You have a new book of Poetry coming out in 2013, tell me a little about that.
Cameron – “Until You Make the Shore” was actually the book I finished as my thesis in 2009. It’s based on my experience teaching poetry in an all-female juvenile detention center in Tucson, Arizona. The girls I taught transformed me through their stories and my goal in this book was to let that transformation filter through me emotionally and bleed back onto the page for others to experience.
Rannoch – Can you tell me a little about the Good Men Project and your involvement?
Cameron - The Good Men Project’s mission is to spark a worldwide conversation on the changing nature of men and on what it means to be a “good man.” Thereare no tidy answers, but we believe there’s much to learn through the process of conversation and idea exploration. We’re always looking for new writers and new perspectives.
Here is an insight into the incredible work Cameron is doing. Please –Help spread the word!
Former MMA Fighter and Award-Winning Author Cameron Conaway Combats Human Trafficking Abroad
Cameron Conaway, an award-winning author and former MMA fighter who once trained under Renzo Gracie, is now fighting an epic battle that reaches far beyond the cage, the battle to end human trafficking. More than 27 million men, women and children are held as slaves, and UNICEF reports that each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade. Conaway has made it his mission to become their voice as he travels throughout Asia and visits human trafficking conferences and refuge shelters.
Human trafficking is a truly global crime. It is not only happening in places like Bangkok, even Los Angeles is a hub. Conaway has done
extensive research on sexual and labor exploitation practices in the U.S. and abroad and has seen its effects first hand.
According to Conaway, “When you look into the eyes of a 5-year-old Bangladeshi boy who now has HIV as a result of being used as a sex
slave, or of a handicapped 11-year-old Thai girl who has lived in the back of a van for years as part of a mobile brothel, or even of the father who was sold the fake promise of a better job and then beaten into slavery – these moments leave imprints on your being, they make you realize what’s worth fighting for.”
Conaway, who is deemed by many as the ‘MMA fighter who fights human trafficking,’ has participated in many human trafficking conferences including the 2012 ‘Slavery No More’ Conference in Los Angeles, the 2012 ‘Not For Sale’ Asia Pacific Forum in the Philippines, and he was
the only American at the 2012 Human Trafficking Roundtable in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Conaway was also invited to speak at the 2012
International Symposium on Combating Human Trafficking in Bandung, Indonesia due to his advocacy work.
Conaway went on to say, “We need penal reform, more sustainable business models and education, deeper collaborations, more psychologists and reintegration specialists…the list goes on. People have referred to me as the fighter who fights human trafficking, but the true warriors are the ones out there battling this each day. The more involved I become, the more I see how my MMA training was preparation for this battle.”
Conaway has spoken extensively on the topic of human trafficking in villages throughout Bangladesh and has expressed in several media interviews that his fight is now outside of the cage and for the attainment of basic human rights for the world’s most vulnerable populations.
The accomplished author also garners attention for the cause through his writing. Conaway has written many features on the topic and was even given rare access to the dangerous shipbreaking yards of Chittagong for an essay titled “Of Ships and Men” which was published in July by The Good Men Project.
Cameron Conaway – mixed martial artist, human rights activist and acclaimed author, has come to be known as the “Warrior Poet.” He shares intimate details of his life’s struggles both in and out of the cage in his compelling autobiography Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet and has championed many causes through his writing.
His book has received numerous awards including the “2012 Reviewers Choice Award” and can be purchased at Amazon. Famed MMA broadcaster Mauro Ranallo is the voice behind the audio version of the book, which will be released in the coming months. For more information on Cameron Conaway, his work and his causes, please visit www.cameronconaway.com