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Dexter High School graduate pursues career in fighting
DEXTER, Mo. -- A Dexter High School graduate is literally fighting to pursue his dreams.
Daniel "Red" McClendon, now 21, graduated from Dexter High School in 2010 and is the son of Phillip and Sherry Whaley of Dexter and Mickey Evans of Texas.
McClendon's fighting career began as a young boy when he wrestled for the Dexter Elks. It was his sophomore year of high school before he decided to join the school wrestling team.
In his junior year, he really began to get involved. The summer between his junior and senior years, he put in a huge amount of extra work once he realized he had a shot to be good at something.
His senior year, McClendon was the captain of the wrestling team.
Once he realized he had a real talent for wrestling, he took it to the next level. McClendon began watching jujitsu videos online in an effort to learn another style of fighting.
His mother, Sherry Whaley, said he even practiced on his family from time to time.
That's when he decided he wanted to compete in mixed martial arts fighting.
His mother's first reaction was what you would expect.
"When he first talked about it, I was not happy at all," Whaley said. "The thought of my baby possibly getting hurt for sport made me sick to my stomach. He spent a lot of time giving me statistics comparing it to other sports like football. I finally decided that he is an adult and will do what he wants, so I can either be supportive or my son would have a part of his life he couldn't share with me."
Now she attends every fight and video tapes them for him.
McClendon moved to Columbia, Mo., where he began training at Hulett House Gym in September 2010. From that point, things began to happen quickly.
In December 2010 he had his first cage fight. At that point he knew exactly what he was meant to do.
Currently, he fights in the Columbia area, predominantly for the Midwest Fight League.
Recently, McClendon competed at the Kick International Tournament of Champions in St. Louis.
"His thought was that he would do it for the experience," Whaley said. "He didn't expect to place because kickboxing is not his strong suit."
When it was all said and done, McClendon had placed first in the 196-212 pound weight class.
That competition resulted in a position on Team USA through Kick International and World Association of Kickboxing Organization (WAKO). Team USA will compete Dec. 6 through 9 in the Pan-American Championships in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.
The top competitors in the Brazil competition will represent the Americas in Russia in October 2013 in the World Kickboxing Championships. There also is another competition scheduled for Team USA in Ireland in March 2013.
McClendon hopes that he gets enough public exposure from these competitions to enable him to get invited to train with a pro MMA trainer like Randy Couture with Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.
McClendon is planning to move to Las Vegas in the next year or two.
McClendon's next fight will take place Sept. 29 at the Whiskey Wild Saloon in Columbia.
Videos of McClendon's fights are on YouTube. Search for the channel "sherrymc71."