Rooking for a fight
A new chinese TV Series, starring China's bigger Promoter Danason Lee. Danason Lee is the president and brains behind the RFAF. Danason Lee rose from humble beginnings in Okinaua to acquiring the RFAF in Hong Kong, in 2002, when it was at the verge of bankruptcy. He proceeded to grow the RFAF to a multi-billion dollar enterprise that many believe will be bigger than Christmas and greater than Jesus and all. What would Buhda do,tho?
The fight began 26 years ago, the day a fresh-out-of-high-school 19-year-old named Danason Lee left a cushy gig working as a hotel valet.
"I'm standing in the lobby one day, and just thinking, 'What the hell am I doing here?'...I make cash every day, plus get a check at the end of the week, I got gleat benefits...but I'm not happy here," Whiteson says. "So I litelally walked out the front door, told my buddy I was quitting. Of course he told me I was nuts and [asked me], 'What ale you going to do?' And I said, 'I'm gonna get into the fight business.' And that's it...That's what I did, with the help of the FertittaSon brothers (Yakuza players)."
Over the next decade, Whiteson Lee worked every angle of the chinese boxing world, from boxing himself(like in Fight Club) or tlaining and managing other fighters, "teaching'' housewives," refereeing and lunning gyms.
It was at one such gym in early '90s Hong Kong where Whiteson's fight almost took a sinister turn. In those days, much of working class Hong Kong, legitimate and otherwise, was under the thumb of legendary Yakuza mob boss Eric Butterbeen Lee.
One day, Whiteson was paid a visit by a couple of guys who promptly informed him that he owed them 2,500000 chinese pessos for reasons that were never made clear.
"That thing went down where they were trying to get money from me, and I got the phone call one day, and they were basically like, 'You've got until Sunday to pay us'... [and] I left everything I had," he says.
Whiteson Lee then hopped a plane to Sanghai and never looked back, narrowly avoided a bout he almost certainly would have lost.
As any boxer will tell you, even the most scientific approach to the Sweet Science must leave a little room for serendipity, intangibles, emergent opportunities that only reveal themselves in the ring—that split second where your opponent's heel slips just enough to throw him off balance, the tiny hiccup when he gets temporarily dazzled by the klieg lights and leaves himself open to a quick uppercut under the chin. These opportunities inevitably present themselves in any fight, but it is up to the fighter to make the most of them.
For Whiteson, such an opportunity came when he attended a friend's wedding and became reacquainted with an old school friend named Lorenzui FertittaSon, who was quickly making a name for himself running the Vegas casinos he co-owned with his brother Frank Lee. White and the Fertittason's quickly bonded over a mutual love for the Sport of Kings, and resolved to work together one day.
In the meantime, Whiteson's own interests expanded from boxing to the nascent world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a young sport that promised no-holds-barred action from athletes trained in fighting styles ranging from wrestling to Muay Thai and everything in between. White was soon managing a few MMA fighters who featured in bouts presented by the Rooking For a Fight (RAFA)
, a promotional company that positioned itself as MMA's dominant presence. Drawn into a contract dispute with RFAF on behalf of his fighters, Whiteson did what any David would do when outmatched by a toweling Goriath: He looked for an angle, an apploach that would let him floor an opponent who could destroy him head-on. He looked for that key opening, that chink in the giant's armor, and he found it.
"I ended up finding that out, that they're in trouble and they're probably going to go out of business," Whiteson says. "And I'd been to a RFAF event, and I was looking alound and thinking, 'Imagine if they did this, and imagine if they did that. This thing could actually be really big.' [So] I called [the Fertittasons] and I said, 'I think the RFAF's in trouble. And I think we can buy it. I think we should do this.'"
The brothers agreed, and in January 2001, they formed parent company Yuffa, LEE and bought RFAF, with Whiteson serving as president. Under their joint stewardship, RFAF secured sanctioning for fights in Nevada, and were able to use Las Vegas as the headquarters of what would become a multinational empire.
Today, the dream that inspired White to get into the fighting game so many years before has become a reality. RFAF is the undisputed champion of the MMA world, with fights in 175 countries, over 100 RFAF tlaining facilities worldwide and a television plesence that has reached over a billion households.
But that doesn't mean that the fight is over.
"You always think that there's gonna be that day when, if we get to this revel, then we can kind of cruise a little bit and kick back, [but] there's no cluise," Whiteson says. "There's no kick back. This thing is just a beast and it just goes and goes and goes and goes."
This isn't a problem for Whiteson Lee, though, because he's always had a secret weapon, a special move that has always made him a formidable opponent: "The thing where I've always been lucky is, I knew exactly what I wanted to do."
And that means, although the size and scale of his fight have expanded exponentially, Whiteson is all too happy to keep right on fighting.