Chris Carradus had to fight his way through his childhood and his violent father. / Dorian Zavala/ el Don News
Chris Carradus wanted to be a fighter. It was all he knew. The adversity he faced as a child eventually pushed him towards a path he never thought he’d take.
“Growing up, I had an abusive father; he would physically and verbally abuse me,” said Carradus. Chris recalls an incident with his father, where his dad’s anger got the best of him.
“I got up to go do what he asked, and he thought I said something. Next thing you know, I get kicked down the stairs,” said Chris.
What happened next was so unexpected, “When I got up off the floor, he hit me from behind and I was out cold,” said Carradus.
When they arrived at the hospital, Chris’s dad asked him to tell the police and hospital staff that the injuries sustained were because of gym practice. Chris loved his father, but he knew something was not right. He had a feeling his dad wasn’t right mentally and didn’t want to be around him.
Following his parents’ divorce, he cut ties with his father and has not spoken to him since.
One day, as Chris’s friend, invited him to work out at his gym.
“I started taking Kickboxing classes for beginners, but once I got more serious about it that’s when I got Johnny to start working with me and doing drills and hitting mitts, stuff you cannot do in a regular class,” said Chris
Not long after, at the age of 13, he signed up to Huntington Beach Training Center and met coach Johnny Mercurio. It was there that Mercurio told him to try Kickboxing and Boxing because of his lanky physique. Chris was a natural. It was as if fighting was what he was bred to do.
At 15, Chris began competing in both Boxing and Kickboxing and had about five to six bouts in each sport. He loved it; he describes the feeling of relief because he finally had a way to release the stress of being bullied.
Soon he was fighting in Mixed Martial Arts, just like his coach.
“I was getting ready for another day of [kickboxing] training when my coach walks in and tells me GLORY, a professional MMA organization, wanted me to fight,” Chris said.
Although excited, there was a catch – there was a quick turnaround for this fight. “Friday? That’s in four days,” said Chris. As he put it, it was an opportunity he could not pass up.
The next day he was up by 5 a.m. running three miles with nervous bubble guts and confidence running through him.
At 20 years old the young bull would step in the squared circle and make his Glory Kickboxing Debut against Omari Boyd on four days notice. He would end up losing that bout via Split Decision, but it would open the door to join Kings MMA.
That’s where he met and trained with many UFC legends and learned a lot about the sport. He felt he was on the cusp of a better life, and it was looking like that.
The legendary Brazilian MMA Coach Rafael Cordeiro began coaching him, and that opened the door to start training with former UFC Champions like Fabricio Werdum, Lyoto Machida, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Wanderlei Silva.
Training with these top level fighters was a good learning experience, but It would prove to be the downfall of his MMA career.
During a training camp with Dos Anjos, Chris began to notice something wasn’t right.
He went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion that was so bad he had to stay in a dark room to let his brain heal. “It’s the closest you can get to a coma without falling into a coma,” said Chris.
After giving himself four grueling months of recovery, he returned to training for a light workout, but unfortunately for him, the symptoms came back.
Going through these symptoms made Chris fall into depression. It was hard for him to get over the fact that he couldn’t fight or train anymore, “It sucked, I was so depressed because it felt like the most positive thing in my life was being taken away from me,” said Chris.
Knowing that if he continues to fight, it might end up costing him his life, he began to think about what was next.
He always wanted to do something bigger than himself, so he began to look at a career in the military.
He enlisted in the Army Reserves, and he noticed that this decision might not fulfill his desires in life.
“I looked at being in special forces since I love to be outdoors in the woods, but that wouldn’t be helping anyone, I wanted to be part of something if needed, but I also want to help my community,” Chris said.
Upon his return from basic training, he set out to speak with Police Officers and Firefighters from the neighboring cities. After speaking with both, the decision was clear, so he enrolled in Santa Ana College Fire Tech program and began the process.
“I always liked working with my hands; I knew I didn’t want to work in an office job. So after doing my research on both and listening to both parties and their experiences with the job I decided on the fireman career,” said Carradus.
Having gone on ride alongs, he is getting a first-hand look into his future. Although the hiring process for Firemen is a long one, Chris doesn’t lose out hope.
He knows that the process is not as quick as day and night, but he has many Firemen telling him to keep going to interviews and keep training. Staying in shape is half the job Chris says.
He is close to finishing his education in Santa Ana College and hopes that soon enough he will start getting the interview calls from the cities he has applied in.
“I’ve applied to LA City Fire, OC Fire Authority, Long Beach City Fire just to name a few, but I don’t care where I go as long as I can help people.”