Justin Wren – Fight For The Forgotten

My guest today is the MMA fighter and activist Justin Wren.

When Justin looked like he was at the top his game as an MMA fighter, on his way to dominate the Bellator heavyweight division, he walked away from it all and travelled to Africa.

He spent years in the jungle of the Congo helping the pygmy people build wells and get access to water.

To understand why Justin made this decision, you have to go back into his past as kid in Texas being bullied and being thrown out of school after school for fighting.

Justin has battled depression, addiction and a sense of purposelessness. At the height of his fighting prowess he tried to commit suicide.

What saved him was a vision of a people he had never met, the visceral calling that he must help a new family on the other side of the planet.

If this sounds crazy, don’t worry! Justin admits it can only sound bizarre to those who have not experienced it.

It turns out that his vision was correct. The pygmies of the Congo are one of the 27million slaves that still exist in the world.

One thing that strikes you about Justin is how completely absent hate is his from his heart.

You’d think a big guy who grew up dreaming of fighting in the UFC would be powered by anger and rage, but in Justin’s case it is just the opposite.

Justin harbours no anger for those who have hurt him, for the slave masters of the Congo, or even for his opponents in the Octagon.

In fact, after he contracted Malaria in 2013, he used the experience of being close to death to see the truth of what one person can really do to make a difference in the world.

(You’ll have to watch the Full Episode to get what I am talking about here!)

With a big heart comes a big vision.

Now Justin is back in the fight business. He plans to give half of all his earnings to the pygmies back in the jungle, and all of his win bonuses will go towards building more water wells.

Justin is a true warrior. As he tells me here, he used to be fighting against others, now he is fighting for others.

I pity his opponents. There is nothing more dangerous than a man fighting for something bigger than himself.


09.52 A crazy story – a movie story?
12:20 Life not worth living – Depression, alcoholism, addiction, attempted suicide.
13:44 Getting bullied.
15:09 Fighting back against people to fighting for people.
20:39 Journey towards the dream.
25:47 Justin Wren’s motivation to return to fighting.
27:08 Finding the way forward.
29:18 Justin Wren wants to fight with Kimbo Slice.
30:50 Fighting whilst using drugs.
34:31 Time out, changing priorities.
37:29 A vision – which becomes true.
42:20 Deciding how to help the Mbuti Pygmies in the Congo.
46:07 Opportunity, not charity.
49:21 Water is life.
50:52 Moving forward, making progress.
51:18 Slavery.
54:39 Our way versus NGOs.
56:36 Water4.org
59:10 Changing the Pygmy mind-set.
1:05:33 Justin Wren’s next challenge.
1:07:26 The danger of going to the Congo.
1:14:46 TED Talk – What great difference would you make if you knew you could?
1:25:01 The next five years …
1:27:04 Justin Wren’s advice to others wanting to make a difference in charities and movements.
1:30:52 Justin Wren’s advice to his 20 year old self.
1:32:23 Best advice Justin Wren ever received.

Leave a Reply

8 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
wild53pete982Dominic JonesJohn RobinsonPatrick J. DouglasPeter Kirkham Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

touching…..the world needs more Justin Wren’s.

Dominic Jones

So genuine and inspiring. Thank you 🙂

John Robinson

Another fantastic episode, excellent! Funnily enough I just finished reading “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain. (in the mentioned list) – deffo recommended. (Don’t order fish on Mondays! And be wary of the “specials” ) This conversation touches just about everything. ► Finance: Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations discusses how wealth is created by the efficient allocation of capital to produce a surplus which can then be traded. This is always derived from labour and land. Without land ownership, rent must be paid, which takes from profit. Without compensation for ones labour and no land, slavery is inevitable. (Reminds me… Read more »

Patrick J. Douglas

Fantastic man, such an inspiration give me goose bumps thinking about what he has done to better mankind

Peter Kirkham

What an awesome dude, so humble and inspiring…

Samantha Salinas Del Castillo
Samantha Salinas Del Castillo

just the intro is giving me the chills! 🙂 amazing man, I’m gonna continue watching!

Dinesh Roka

Justin Wren, what an amazing story and a true inspiration

Kevin Farnan
Kevin Farnan