Jeff “The Snowman” Monson is a world famous mixed martial arts fighter from my hometown of Olympia, Washington. He is a two-time winner of the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, and a No Gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Champion. He has competed in the UFC, PRIDE, Dream, Strikeforce, M-1 Challenge, Sengoku and Impact FC.
Jeff is not just known for his fighting skills: he’s also an outspoken political activist who on more than one occasion has put his money where his mouth is. He is not one to shy away from controversy and generated plenty lately when he became a full fledged Russian citizen, joining boxer Roy Jones Jr. as the other American fighter to embrace the passport of the Great Bear.
I have known Jeff since high school and have spent the last two and half years co-writing a book with him about his life as a fighter, which will be sent out for publication soon. In celebration of this, as well as the launching of this here blog, I shot a few questions about politics his way.
CT: How would you describe yourself, politically? For years you’ve called yourself an anarchist, though lately I’ve heard you describe yourself as a communist. Do you consider these the same thing? Or are you a ‘fuck labels’ kind of guy?
JM: That is the idea of anarchism- you don’t have to fit into a box like other political theories. Instead anarchism shifts and changes to accommodate the people instead. Communism, the idea that the people own the means of production and people are the priority not profits is a key component of anarchism. If you had to use a term to describe my political stance would be “libertarian communism,” which is anarchism.
CT: When did you first start taking in interest in politics and human rights? Did it happen quickly or was it an evolution?
JM: My interest and eventual political activism was definitely a long process. Like most Americans, I was completely unaware of the happenings in the world and US involvement in other countries, as well as the role capitalism played in the enslavement of the masses. A college professor got me interested in politics and society. Traveling exposed me to horrors of absolute poverty and made me start questioning the world economic system.
CT: Do a lot of other fighters embrace politics? Or are you a kind of aberration?
JM: I have obviously met many fighters and I can say from experience there are many very educated and caring fighters. However, because of the nature of the profession–including the long hours, injuries, and infrequent and unsteady pay–most fighters do not involve themselves with political questions.
CT: I know you’ve talked about it a lot lately, but I gotta ask: Why have you become a Russian citizen?
JM: I became a Russian citizen because I identify with the struggle of the Russian people. The first world social revolution happened in Russia and that is where the fire of socialism still burns, until the citizens of the world become educated and disenfranchised enough with the current system to take part. The people of Russian have shown me unparalleled kindness and generosity and have made me feel like it is my home.
CT: What are your thoughts on the American presidential race, particularly the emergence of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders? Do you think Bernie–who is a democratic socialist–could win? Does his popularity spell good news for the anti-capitalist movement at large?
JM: It’s disturbing that an intolerant racist such as Donald Trump could even be in the running for president. People are conditioned to believe they need some ‘leader,’ otherwise everything would fall into some sort of chaos. We need to realize not only do we the people hold the power, but we know what is best for ourselves and are motivated to make choices that benefit each other, not only a select few. Bernie Sanders has good policies and his priorities are with the people. I think it is a compliment when his rivals call him a ‘socialist.’ However, he doesn’t have the support of his own Democratic Party who depend on contributions from banks and big business, so he will never win the nomination. Saying this, I don’t believe in voting in ‘leaders’ to make decisions that we should make for ourselves.
CT: Do you think you would have gotten involved politically if you didn’t become a fighter? After all, the struggle against oppression is a fight in and of itself. Do the two things fuel each other?
JM: I definitely wouldn’t have gotten this involved politically if i wasn’t a fighter. Most importantly, fighting allowed me the opportunity to travel and see the rest of the world, which was the catalyst in becoming involved with social issues. Also, becoming a fighter and being recognized gave me a platform to talk to others about the discrepancy between the have and have nots and the hypocrisy of the US and other governments.
CT: Do you regret anything you’ve done politically?
JM: I only regret I did not get more involved earlier.