The first televised show I ever worked as a #cutman, I wore a borrowed jacket with someone else's name on it.
Today, my jacket still doesn't have my name on it. It's not even really a "jacket" or a "vest," it's a Dickies shirt I bought at WalMart and goes to a printer -- the same printer that does your local ball teams and bowling leagues.
I imagine by this point you're curious as to why I, and why I believe you, as the reader, would give a damn about the quality, printing, or origin of my jacket. I have a reason, just hear me out.
As the lead cutman for Bellator, I get contacted a lot by fellow cutmen looking for work; that's part of my job description. I don't mind it, but I have noticed a trend among cutmen these days: the fancy jacket.
I have people hitting me up for televised work on a major network, and often, their sole qualification is that they've managed to get themselves a really fancy "vest" and wrapped a friend of theirs a few times after watching some YouTube videos. They even come up with neat nicknames and buy their domains just in case they make the big time.
But, that’s how I know they aren’t legit, despite trying to look it.
If you really want to be a cutman, you need to be losing money when you first start out, but not to graphic designers for logos and specialty clothing companies for unique cage wear.
You need to be losing it working for free, losing it buying tape, buying gauze -- thousands of rolls each -- and going to hundreds of practices at boxing and MMA gyms to wrap fighters.
You need to be losing money working amateur shows for free to get experience wrapping and working cuts and swelling. Sure, you'll lose money and time, but you'll gain a reputation and you'll gain knowledge, and that’s something you can’t buy or hang on that fancy vest.
You'll also gain a reason for other people in our extremely small industry to have respect for you.
A flashy image may get you social media followers, but only real dedication and obsession for this specific aspect of being a cutman will get you wrapping and cornering the types of fights that drew you into the sport in the first place.
Don’t expect to walk into the limelight without putting in the work in the shadows.