John “Trouble” Brewin, 25, of Auckland, New Zealand wanted to be a rugby player when he was young. He never thought he would end up representing his country in other countries as a professional mixed martial artist.
Rugby is the most popular sport in New Zealand. Its national team the All Blacks is arguably the most recognized brand in the sport.
Currently, Brewin is signed with Bahrain-based MMA promotion BRAVE Combat Federation. Growing up in Auckland, he envisioned himself wearing black from the top to the bottom with a silver fern on his chest.
“When I was a teenager I went to King’s College here in Auckland, which is a prestigious institution here in town, I started playing rugby and I knew that if I did my best I could earn a place at the university through it but that was it,” Brewin said in an Instagram Live interview with BRAVE CF’s Jason van Schalkwyk. “Honestly, I didn’t think too much about the future when I was growing up.”
“I didn’t have any goals really,” Brewin continued. “I got into a bit more trouble than I’d like at least now when I look back at it, especially considering the institution that I was in.”
The university granted Brewin not only education but also a place to be afterward. The Kiwi fighter is now living and training within the premises of the school during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown.
“This is a boarding school,” Brewin shared. “That’s where I am now. I’m living here in a compound within the school’s premises so there’s so much tradition, so many good values, so much to learn but the truth is that back then, I wasn’t really invested. I didn’t take it into account.”
“From that time on, I wanted to be a rugby player,” Brewin continued. “I wanted to become an All-Black. I believe, maybe, I have a tendency to self-sabotage, I don’t know, because it’s easy to say those things but to will it for real, it’s completely different.”
“We have the power to do it but it’s more about if you’re willing to exercise that power or not,” the Auckland native added. “Go through everything it takes to make that dream come true”.
That was exactly what Brewin did when he fell in love with another sport. All the passion, investment and interest that he had not found yet with his childhood dream of playing rugby, the same one shared by millions of his fellow countrymen, he ended up discovering when he first got into MMA.
“Unlike my All-Black dream, to which I never gave everything, trained with 100 percent dedication, or, honestly, fully believed, I found myself when I got into MMA,” Brewin shared. “It made me shake off some of those old habits.”
“I started as an amateur and I instantly knew that this is what I wanted,” Brewin continued. “This is what I was meant to and when I turned pro I remember thinking to myself, ‘Okay, now you have to commit without any restrictions. This is it. Otherwise, what is the point of being punched in the head every single day?’”
Brewin really dove in headfirst. With most of his professional career spent under BRAVE CF banner, he knew that he hit the jackpot early on and made the best out of it with four wins in five bouts and three stoppages, going from a prospect to a headliner in no-time.
More recently, Brewin was supposed to be a main eventer on his second consecutive BRAVE CF fight night. But due to the COVID-19 outbreak, “BRAVE CF 36” in Romania ended up being postponed.
How long this hiatus will last is still unknown. Given the volatility and uncertainty of the international scenario, Brewin finds comfort in the historic rhymes he sees between his past self and his current status.
“It’s crazy because I’m back here to the school where I once was but I’m nothing like that time,” Brewin pointed out. “I’m on a completely different journey. It’s rather poetic, isn’t it?”