Anton Berzin, 24, fights out of Philly and will compete on season 19 of the The Ultimate Fighter. Each week throughout the season, he'll be sharing his experiences right here on philly.com.
My name is Anton Berzin, and my family and I came to America in 1991 in search of a better life.
You don't just pick up and move to America. It's extremely expensive and not just anybody is allowed. First, you must get - or win - a green card. You are either sponsored by somebody from America, or you play the lottery to try to win one. My family and I were fortunate enough to be sponsored by a Baptist church in Nebraska when we moved from the Ukraine in 1991.
It is extremely difficult to live in Russia and the former Soviet Union. The poverty and lack of work available made it really difficult to make enough money to survive. We were very poor in Russia, but in America it is much easier to find jobs, make money and have a more comfortable lifestyle.
I was just a small boy - the youngest of 10 siblings - when we arrived in Lincoln. Shortly after, we moved to New Jersey, where I went to to school, until the age of 16 when I decided to drop out and look for work.
I’d always felt older than I was, which may be why I started my adult life earlier than most. In high school, it was hard for me to follow directions and pay attention. I knew I didn’t want to have a 9-to-5 job and wanted to be my own boss. I grew up to fast. School just wasn’t for me.
When I left high school, I moved to Philadelphia and began working as a roofer. I had a boss, and the 9-to-5 job I was hoping to avoid, but it was a necessary step in order to reach my ultimate goal.
Within a year, I had joined Rocco MMA in Northeast Philadelphia - and met my coach, Adam Rocco. Adam not only made me into a better fighter, but also helped make me the man I am today.
Before competing on The Ultimate Fighter, I won a number of grappling tournaments, including the NAGA World Championships in 2010 and a Grapplers Quest World Heavyweight title.
Now, my hopes are to position myself to eventually make enough money to provide for my family so they can have the lifestyle that they never thought was possible. My father passed away, leaving me and my siblings to take care of my mother. I want to buy her a house and give her the things that she has always wanted.
At the end of the day that's what really motivates me.
MORE ABOUT ANTON:
Full Name - Anton Berzin
Age - 24
Height - 6'2"
Weight - 205 lbs
Record - 3-1
Fighting style - Jujitsu/Kickboxing
Gym - Rocco MMA
Favorite food - Anything edible
Favorite music - Anything from rap (Biggie/2Pac) to country
Favorite movie - Fight Club
Favorite hobby (other than fighting) - Biking, surfing, snowboarding, drawing
Superhero you'd most like to be - Superman
Person you'd least like to fight - Fedor Emelianenko
Person you'd most like to fight - Jon Jones (for the title!)
Fastest you've ever won a fight - 19 seconds (TKO)
Favorite finishing move - Whatever will end the fight ASAP
If you weren't a fighter, what would you do for a living? - I'd probably be a gangster. Fighting saved my life.