John Lineker is one of the hardest hitting fighters in the sport and has earned the nickname ‘Hands of Stone’. He has enjoyed success in the UFC and ONE Championship earning millions of dollars along the way.

But it hasn’t always been like this for the Brazilian. As a child he was bullied for being small and recalls other children would pay him on the head and call him ‘a dwarf’,

“I was not popular (but) at the time we did not understand bullying, we simply cursed each other and fought. As I was short, the tall ones always wanted to pat me on the head and called me a dwarf.”

Old fashioned

Lineker’s father took an old fashioned approach and made his son fight back against the bullies,

“My father always said, ‘if you fight in the street and get beaten up, you’ll get beat up at home too’ so I went with everything. I’d rather hit than get beaten twice.”

This might explain how Lineker developed his hard hitting, aggressive style. But while it might sound like his parents were hard on him the 32 year old credits his father as being his ‘biggest inspiration’,

“My father was my greatest inspiration, my model of effort, a person who always struggled to bring sustenance into the house and not let the family lack anything. My dad wasn’t much for saying ‘I love you’ but his actions showed us how much he loved us and how much he wanted to take care of us. That’s why he is my biggest inspiration and my role model.”

My dream

While a lot of Brazilians start out studying BJJ it was boxing that Lineker fell in love with. He was inspired by Acelino Freitas who was the best Brazilian boxer at the start of the century,

“When I was 12 years old, I saw an article with Acelino ‘Popó’ Freitas where they told his life story. That’s when the dream of becoming a fighter arose.”

According to Lineker it was that article that inspired him to take up boxing,

“It generated a fire in my heart, something very strong. And that ended up becoming my wish, it became my dream. I already liked to fight, so having martial arts as a lifestyle to support my family was something that really moved me. I started practicing boxing soon after I read this article.”

No show

Lineker did not turn up for the media day ahead of ONE Fight Night 7. He faces Fabricio Andrade in Bangkok on Saturday and we don’t know how he feels about facing a younger opponent who clearly got the better of him last time out even if the fight was declared a no contest.

But Lineker’s days of being bullied are well and truly behind him. He has had a very successful MMA career and this Saturday the 32 year old will be looking to prove he is still at the top of the sport by reclaiming his belt and beating the young prodigy.