Chris Lytle: From UFC Fighter to Fighting Bullying In Schools
Photo: Chris Lytle poses in front of a fire truck inside IFD Station 45 on East 30th Street in Indianapolis. (Photo Credit: C.J. Miller / WIBC)
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – To the other guys working at Fire Station 45 on East 30th Street near Mitthoeffer Road, he’s just another firefighter.
But to fans of mixed martial arts, he’s one of the men who helped the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) become the sport that it is today.
Chris Lytle, known as “Lights Out” to his fans, started as a wrestler at Southport High School where he competed at the state wrestling finals in both his junior and senior years. After graduating in 1993, he went to Indiana University, but he still loved fighting and continued to train as a boxer and a mixed martial artist.
“Back in the 90’s when you told people you did mixed martial arts, people looked at you like you just said, ‘yeah I eat babies for breakfast’ or something. It wasn’t accepted then. That’s why I really like going to Japan because they treated it like a professional sport and you got treated like royalty there,” he says.
“As it got on TV more, people became to accept it a little bit more. They said, “hey, these are athletes and these guys aren’t just mindless barbarians. These guys are actually skilled fighters’ and then the sport just took off,” says Lytle.
Lytle’s success as a boxer and mixed martial artist led him to the UFC beginning in 2000. But his time as a fighter left him with a lot of injuries.
“I separated my shoulder probably 30 seconds into a fight and the fight lasted for about 11-and-a-half minutes, so that was a tough one. I’ve had three knee surgeries, my ACL has been replaced, [I’ve] broken my foot a couple of times, [I] have a lot of back problems and [had] about 50 stitches in my face. But if you fight for very long you’re going to have injuries,” he says.
Throughout his UFC career, Lytle has also worked as a firefighter with the Indianapolis Fire Department for about 16 years.
“Most guys who fight in the UFC, that’s all they do for a living. They train 24 hours a day. I had to go to work, I have four kids, I was trying to manage everything,” says Lytle.
Lytle retired from the UFC in 2011, but his popularity as a fighter has helped him reach out to young kids to teach them about the negative effects of bullying. Through his Chris Lytle Foundation, he travels to schools across the country talking with children to teach them to stand up for others if they see someone they know who is being bullied.
“I’ve been a father for many years. My youngest son Jake has Autism, so that kind of led me to be hypersensitive to people who are being picked on. I noticed [with] a lot of people it leads to depression, it leads to suicide attempts,” he says.
“What I try to encourage other kids to do is to stand up for kids who are having trouble standing up for themselves. I know it’s hard for a kid, but that’s what I try to focus on,” says Lytle.
The Chris Lytle Foundation also focuses on educating kids on domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, how to prevent themselves from being a victim, and what to do if they should ever become a victim.
“Without awareness and education there can be no change. We want to be a part of that change,” says Lytle.
CLICK BELOW TO HEAR FORMER UFC FIGHTER CHRIS LYTLE TALK WITH 93 WIBC’S C.J. MILLER ABOUT HIS UFC CAREER, WORKING AS A FIREFIGHTER WITH THE INDIANAPOLIS FIRE DEPARTMENT AND HIS FOUNDATION'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST BULLYING AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
93.1 WIBC’S C.J. MILLER REPORTING.