Mixed martial arts helped change one Milwaukee man's life

MILWAUKEE -- There are parts of Milwaukee where police are constantly confronted by gang violence; where there's no lock of guys who'll fight you just for the fun of it. Well,  one such gang-banger's tough guy attitude and a chance encounter landed him in a mixed martial arts gym. And that tough guy now has a real future.

When Chico Camus walked into the mixed martial arts gym for the first time five years ago, he thought he was tough. But when Camus reflects back on his life off the mat -- the life that supposedly made him tough -- he realizes the truth.

Camus was a self-described gang banger roaming Milwaukee's south side before he began fighting. He tells FOX6 News how his house was once shot up and his mom was nearly killed.

"I was just holding her bleeding and when they left and took her to the hospital. I thought that was the last day I was going to see my mom," said Camus.

Camus also took FOX6 to the spot where his nephew died living a similar life to the one he led.

"This area it means a lot too me because I drive past here knowing it could have been me or I could still be in the same stuff people out here are at," said Camus.

It was right around that time when Camus had a chance meeting with well-known, Milwaukee-born and raised UFC fighter Anthony Pettis at a barbershop near Muskego and Becher. Camus asked Pettis to train with him.

For many wannabe fighters, Pettis sees, that would be about it. But Camus didn't quit.

After years of struggling to make it, Camus recently signed with the UFC and won his first UFC fight. His accomplishments help the instructors at Rufus Sport Academy sell kids mixed up in the wrong things on mixed martial arts as a way to a better life.

Camus certainly sends that message these days when he meets kids on the southside streets. He encourages them to check out what's behind the bars of a fight ring -- before they end up behind the bars of a prison cell.