Jeff Monson is a world-class American Mixed Martial Arts fighter and political activist who recently decided to become a Russian citizen.
There are many Mixed-Martial-Arts styles, and Jeff has competed in lots of them. The 45-year-old has won 59 fights in his two-decade-long career, which has lasted 10 years longer than the average fighter’s.
Highlights of his career include winning a No Gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championship and being a two-time winner of the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championship.
Mixed Martial Arts fans around the world cheered Jeff’s heart when he finished a losing bout to Russian star Fedor Emelianenko in December of 2012 on a broken leg.
Mixed Martial Arts fighters can use their arms and feet to strike blows, as with traditional martial arts, and can grapple and use holds on opponents, as in wrestling. The label “submission” refers to a bout ending only when one fighter admits defeat.
Jeff has formed a company to help him pursue a career beyond fighting. Monson Productions will run Mixed Martial Arts schools in Russia and internationally, produce fight-related television shows, manufacture Jeff Monson sporting goods and — through its charitable arm — help underprivileged children.
The seeds for Jeff becoming a Mixed Martial Arts star were sown when the St. Paul, Minnesota, native wrestled in high school in Lacey, Washington, then competed for Oregon State University and the University of Illinois. He was a Pac 10 champion at Oregon State.
After obtaining a bachelors degree in psychology at Illinois and a master’s at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, Jeff was a mental health crisis counselor and family and child psychologist in Lewis County, Washington, for a number of years.
But he missed competition, and began entering Mixed Martial Arts events in the late 1990s. He established himself as a force in the sport by coming out of nowhere to win the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission championship in 1999.
Jeff’s observations of poverty during his world travels are a key reason he became an anarchist and communist. He embraced anarchism, he says, because he wants to see the abolishment of “all class hierarchy in society and the institutions that promote this inequality.” He believes communism promotes a society in which people care more about each other than the pursuit of wealth and material goods.
Jeff’s kinship with Russia is not rooted in politics, however, but in a deep connection he feels with Russia’s people, thinking and culture. “The first time I was here, I felt I was home,” he says. “I really feel I have a Russian soul.”