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Young Trailblazer Nominee

Theodore McClatchey II

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My Black Colorado Interview

I’m Theodore McClatchey II –Theo Mac for short. I’m originally from Tifton, Georgia, about three hours out of Atlanta. I think I moved out to Colorado in 2013. I decided it was a good idea to make a name for myself, get out there, and break the stereotype since I didn’t come from much. I went to train a little bit and became an MMA fighter. I got an excellent record, 3-2, which isn’t too shabby for only doing it two years. Then I decided maybe getting hit in the face isn’t the best move as of right now, so let’s see if I can model or act a little bit. I am glad that I got my foot in the door. 

Are you currently in school?

I was in school last year and took a break off but next semester I’m starting over again at Pikes Peak Community College.

What do you think others would say they like about you the most or what they value about you? 

If I had to choose one thing, it would probably be I’m a pretty determined person and when people tell me I can’t do something — it sounds cliche — but I go out and try to prove those people wrong. I think people took notice of that. 

Can you explain how that relates to being an MMA fighter and what you’re doing now?

That’s a big piece. When I started, I wasn’t really serious about doing this. I brought it to family members and friends and I got the same thing: “Ah, you can’t do that!” It’s not that they were downplaying me. It was just they didn’t believe I could commit to it. I used that as motivation, started doing it, and it eventually became something I’m very passionate about. 

What did you learn from training as an MMA fighter, or how has that helped transform you into who you are today?

Initially, I had a little fire in me, and I think MMA put that fire out pretty quickly in many ways. It’s a very humbling sport that teaches discipline. If you are not about that life, you’re going to have to prove yourself by going in to train three, four, or five times a week. If you slack off for even a couple of days, it shows. So, it’s a discipline that I didn’t have before. It’s also the mindset of doing great and helping others, especially in that particular environment. You create a family. It teaches you over time, and it’s a cycle of new folks coming in and you teaching them, they learn, and so on. It has helped out in a mental aspect as an adult —  I’ve learned a lot.

Do you have a background in playing sports? 

I played football in my junior year for one season. That was about it. Touching back on the fighting aspect, growing up in Georgia, some areas are not the best in the world where many people are on edge down there. So when it came to fighting, it wasn’t something new to me. 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

If I have enough of it, I like to play some video games, you know, or maybe go out with some friends — either hiking or places around town. Normal Colorado activities.

What is the best advice someone has given you recently? 

People will think what they want to think of you anyway, so trying to please everybody or make everybody see you as a specific person is impossible. It would help if you didn’t stress about how people view you. Instead, focus on how to better yourself as a person. That was from my mentor, Dr. G.

What is the one thing that you want to improve? 

I’d say singing. I recently decided to venture off into that aspect to try something new for myself. Growing up, I rarely sang, but lately, I’ve been studying a lot of music, training with some people, and eventually realized I could hold a note or two. So, I’m progressing in that area.

What do you think is one piece of advice that adults need to hear to connect with the younger generation?

Adults were kids, too, and it’s always going to be different from how you grew up. Once they get that perspective, I feel like it would be a little better to ease their way into conversations. 

What accomplishments or awards are you most proud of and why? 

I would say getting into MMA and proving to myself that I can do anything I focus on. Of course, there’s some miscellaneous stuff along the way, like medals and awards, that inspires me to do more. 

What impact have you made in the community that you’re most proud of? 

My proudest moment was visiting the reenactment of MLK at the 57th commemoration March on Washington. We got to perform it in front of a group of people and hearing their perspective on Black Lives Matter was terrific. It was huge! 

What is your career plan for your future?

I want to continue modeling and acting and maybe even be on the big screen one of these days and to continue to see what new doors open. To become a singer would be included in my future as well. 

I feel like I’m missing a piece of your story. What brought you to Colorado?

I grew up in foster care, in and out, from 4 years old to 12 years old. I probably spent 90% or 95% of that time in somebody’s house other than my parents. When I got out, I was with my stepmom, who was in the military. My dad passed away a couple of months later, so the military moved my stepmom from South Carolina to Colorado in 2013. 

Why are you hesitant to share about your foster care upbringing? 

I’m not, and I didn’t want to throw you for a loop and share too much that you’re not interested in. 

How do you think foster care impacts the decisions that you make now? 

A little less than it did a few years back. But when I reflect, it just makes me want to do so much more. When I see other people — like kids — struggling, it hits the heartstrings and takes on an emotional experience for me. I want to do the best I can to help somebody else, especially family. Honestly, to think if none of that ever happened, being in foster care, going from place to place, and other such experiences, there probably would be no Theo Mac right now. 

If you were talking to a younger version of yourself, what would you say to encourage them?

I would tell them there so much more to come out of this like it is right now. Your experiences now will mold you into a better person. Despite what you may feel, know that things are going to get better. 

What would you say the value is in having a mentor?

Dr. G has helped me a lot and I think everybody should have somebody to go to. It’s a controversial statement, but he and I believe that everybody should also seek therapeutic help from someone else. He’s done that for me. When I was fighting, he initially was my manager, then he became a role model and eventually led into being a father figure to me. He’s just been that person I look up to as well as a big piece of my success. So, if you have those other people around you, there’s nothing that you can’t do because they’re always there to push you to do and be better. 

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