When the United States suffered an attack on September 11, 2001, it was considered the darkest day in our country's history. In all, over 3,000 people died and it was broadcast live on all news channels and as a result, Americans from all walks of life found their local recruiter offices and wanted to be part of the solution to help our nation and the world move forward. One of those Americans was Tim Kennedy.
“9/11 had a pretty profound impact on me as I watched Americans choose between being burned alive or jumping to their death. So I actually went into a recruiter's office on 9/11.” He wasn't actually able to speak to a recruiter until a day later, but Kennedy knew his destiny was to serve, and he wanted it to happen sooner rather than later .
"There was such a backlog that it was a few months before I got a boot camp appointment where I was on dormant reserves," Kennedy said. Once in action, Kennedy was immediately drafted into the Special Forces Selection.
"I've never served a normal day in the military," he explained. After graduating from Ranger School, Kennedy was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. Missions he participated in included several deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After more than two years of school and training, one of these outreaches gave him an epiphany about where he was in the world and in his life.
“I ran towards what gunshots are. I look left and right and see a pair of Green Berets walking with me. It really clicked that I was in the right place. I'm with men like me."
Those like him were also the ones who appreciated big challenges, lived in the moment, and did everything in their power to protect their homeland and the people in it. They embraced everything and were all top athletes too. According to Kennedy, this was no coincidence.
“The overlap in these is extraordinary. If you look at the units of all Special Missions, what they all have in common is that they are all extremely fit. They're all absolute hunky looking motherf*****s," he said. “Through athletics and martial arts, I had done so many tough things. I felt at home doing hard things in the military. I felt at home.”
Courtesy of Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy credited fitness and athletics for much of his success. In his eyes, people who were complete in their bodies were exactly what post-9/11 America needed.
"This generation of athletes after 9/11 that were recruited into the same program as me, they were all collegiate runners, track and field athletes, sprinters, wrestlers," he said.
Kennedy also said that the group he belonged to had the highest selection rates of any class in the selection's history. He has also received numerous personal honours. His most notable award is a Bronze Star, but he also holds the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and two NATO medals, to name a few. When asked about his personal greatest moment, he was able to name not just one moment, but a series of moments in which he connected with those he struggled with on a deeper level.
"I know all about this human being next to me, and it is the most remarkable privilege to be able to be part of a community that knows you inside out, your flaws, your failures, and is still proud to minister with you."
The pressures he faced during his missions and ministry came with other privileges as well. Among them was the ability to stay calm and act in any situation, like his MMA fights. Tim Kennedy is also well known in the mixed martial arts world. In 24 pro fights, he had an 18-6 record with six wins by KO and eight by submission. While many athletes feel nervous or overwhelmed walking into the arena, Kennedy would take the same walk as if it were any other day ending in "y."
"I was told, 'Man, you're too relaxed. Can you just cheer yourself up for this fight?' I would say it's just a fight," he said. "It was just fun fighting out there."
Kennedy fought in multiple organizations including the now defunct International Fight League, Strikeforce, and eventually the UFC. He struggled until 2017 when he announced his retirement from the sport. That same year he re-enlisted in the Army Special Forces and is still actively involved.
"I would attribute most of my success to my consistent, disciplined and regimented approach to fitness," he proudly shared. "I'll transfer that. I know that sounds very militaristic, but I apply that to the organization of my companies.”
Tim Kennedy still uses the same approach to his fitness today. He trains early every morning and he revealed that he's had training partners who quit after a workout because he was so intense during the workout.
"I find the worst thing I can do to my body first, and everything else that day is easy," Kennedy said. "There's nothing anyone else can do to me during the day that's worse than what I've already resolved to do to myself."
His overall approach to fitness has nothing to do with looks or looks. Everything he does has a purpose and that puts him in the best position to perform when called upon to do so.
“I want to be able to train so I can walk and do something, or I want to be able to train so I can walk and be something. My workouts really embody that. You are really tough. You can expect to be in the 80 to 90 percent heart rate range for an extended period of time.”
Tim Kennedy knows he is in a position to help inspire and educate people, which is why he wrote his latest book, Scars and Stripes. It will be available on June 7th and is available to pre-order now. Kennedy shared that it was very meaningful for him to write this.
“This title is not a misnomer. The stripes you get in the military - they're on your sleeves for years of service, for your overseas deployments, and for years of service. These are earned through years of suffering, and scars are earned in the same way.”
Follow Tim Kennedy on Instagram: @timkennedymma