Interview with ‘The Snowman’

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Monson at the 2008 RNC Protests

I recently had an opportunity to interview veteran mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson over email. Monson attended the University of Illinois and was part of the wrestling team. While some see just another athlete, he is also a man who has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in psychology and is an outspoken advocate for a more just world. Prior to his MMA career, Monson was a mental health professional in crisis evaluation and a child/family counselor. When I asked him about this period of his life, he stated: “I greatly enjoyed my time as a mental health professional. I worked with kids, families and the severely mentally ill during a seven-year span. I think it is an overlooked need in society in helping those with mental illness.” He wrote further about his experience with how mental health and social services were treated by saying that the one issue he had “…working in mental health is the money allocated to our agencies kept getting cut year after year.” Monson also put the blame where it belonged – “The problem is the financial system – capitalism. It is a viral system where greed and exploitation are seen as positive traits. The first systems to fail are those that do not contribute wealth, i.e. education, health care, social service programs, etc.”

Monson also spoke about how he began thinking more liberally while in college “after taking some community psychology courses”, but it was some of his early experiences as a mixed martial artist that really influenced some of his radical politics. ‘The Snowman’ told me that it was “traveling to different parts of the world and seeing the destructive forces of capitalistic globalization [that] really got me involved in learning more about anarchism.”

Monson has participated in numerous activist campaigns, opposed the US war in Iraq, and was also present at the 2008 Republican National Convention protests. When I asked him if his imposing size and tattooed body influences how police treat him, he responded: “I know that my presence gets the attention of the police and security. Honestly, this is the only time I really think about my size or appearance and I do want them to take notice. I think it is important to speak with intelligence and demonstrate calmness during these protests as it adds validity to the actual action of protesting.” He also spoke about the Occupy movement and said that he has “great hope that they can continue to grow until people realize that they are the ones with power and something truly great happens such as shutting down the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) or a general strike.”

When I mentioned the criticism that professional athletes were not workers, Monson offered the following: “It is a job, no doubt. If it were easy, then a lot more people would be professional athletes. However, that being said, I do love my job and I feel blessed to have a job that I enjoy. I don’t think many people do the work that really makes them happy.” In another interview with, Monson took the idea even further: “I’m like everybody else. I live in a capitalist system, so that’s what I have to do. … I may not like it or agree it, but that’s our society. I’m trying to change it, but I’m not a hypocrite either. I know that I have to earn money to pay bills. I just happen to have a job that I enjoy, and I do feel blessed. If I could make any job for myself, this would be one of them…At the same time, these people paying me to fight, they’re making a hell of a lot more off the fighters than they’re paying them. They’re doing it to make a profit. In essence, they’re stealing from me. It’s like someone working in a shoe factory making shoes, that person doesn’t get paid what those shoes are worth. They get paid a fraction of it. They get paid the minimum they can get paid and stay living and employed and keep them from quitting. They’re wage slaves, just like I’m a wage slave.”

Monson concluded his interview with me by saying – “No matter what our profession, title, income, etc., we are all united together as human beings. We have the capacity to do wonderful things whether inventing a new technology or running 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. We should never settle for the status quo because ‘its not a good system, but it’s the best we have’ mentality. That apathetic, lazy approach is the worst of us. We owe it to ourselves as a society and our human distinction to strive to make life as good as it can be for even the lease of us.”

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