“NEF 24: PROMISED LAND” takes place the night before Father’s Day 2016 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. In anticipation of NEF 24, all week we will be profiling “Fighting Fathers,” or, “dads that could beat up your dad.” Find out what drives these working dads as they battle to build a better life for their children. In today’s profile, we speak with Dr. Steve Bang.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Eight. Six sons and two daughters. (23 year old son, another 23 year old son whom we took into our family starting his sophomore year of high school, 22 year old son, 20 year old son, 18 year old son, 17 year old daughter, 12 year old son, 7 year old daughter).
What does being a good father mean to you?
Teaching correct principles and letting them govern themselves. Reproving at times with exactness, when needed, and showing thereafter an excess of love. As with most things, this is easier said than done and requires continual work.
What do your children think about their Dad fighting?
As competition and combat sports (primarily wrestling) have always been a part of my life, I don’t think any of them are particularly shocked. I would like to think that my boys are proud that I am able at my position in life. The younger kids, starting with my 17-year old daughter have not actually ever seen me fight in MMA. They have never really expressed an interest in watching but I would have no problem with them watching. Most of the time, our day-to-day family dealings are about them pursuing and fulfilling their own dreams and aspirations. I think the greatest thing they have taken from me fighting, is that you can do whatever you want to do. There is a process with steps to every goal. There is also a price, but if you are willing to pay the price, then you learn what the process is, take each step in stride and eventually reach your desired goal.
You’ve clearly raised your children to be disciplined, to train, to always work hard and to challenge themselves through athletic competition. What is your philosophy on combat sports and why have all of your sons decided to test themselves in mixed martial arts?
I believe it is because for us, MMA and combat sports represent a pinnacle in competition that cannot be rivaled by any other sport. With the combination of several disciplines, skill sets, strategies and techniques it requires that you are constantly learning and improving. Becoming a better version of yourself as you push to the next level. On top of all that, one is not just performing and perfecting skill sets against known, inanimate objects. There is another intelligent, skilled and calculating individual ready to change the variables at any given second and the stakes are not just theoretical but real. It doesn’t seem to be in our DNA to be satisfied with anything less than a real potential for consequences. So few people are willing to take that risk and it adds an element that can only be experienced and never adequately described.
How did you introduce your children to training and how did you help them to develop a competitive mindset?
I introduced them to training essentially by including them in what I was already doing. The ones who have an interest have always been welcome to join me and that is how I have been able to carve out time for my own training. It becomes a family affair. Instead of spending our time together watching TV all the time (we do some of that as well) we are training together. The same has applied to my wife. There is no way I could spend the hours training that I do without her there participating and that is a huge blessing. The real work comes when they are involved with something that I do not do on a regular basis. Then it is time to step away from me and support them.
As for their competitive mindset, I did nothing more than pass that on as it was passed to me. Most people associate “Bang” with Korean descent. Not as many people are familiar with the surname also being of Danish/Norwegian descent. That is obviously our line and perhaps included some Viking blood. It is possible that we were just born a couple centuries after our time.
What type of legacy do you hope to leave as a father and how does that dovetail with your combat sports aspirations?
Persevere to the end. Do what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has gone. Obviously we have been talking about temporal achievements and I believe those achievements to be important insomuch as they are an archetype of what truly matters. The spiritual. Ultimately, the spiritual is where I want to see my family excel even if all else failed. Personally, I will take combat sports to the level that makes sense for me. I aspire to excel in all that I set out to do and apart from my own personal satisfaction of achievement, if I can be the instrument to inspire a change for the good in others, that would be my wish at the end of the day.
As you prepare to compete on June 18th, the day before Father’s Day 2016, what is your message to your children and your dreams for their future?
Choose the right, let the consequence follow.