BIO MARK MILLER
There are not many fighters in the world with a story as compelling as Mark Miller’s. In fact there are not many athletes in the whole world of sports who can lay claim to have overcoming the obstacles that Miller has. That’s because Miller, a veteran of both MMA and kickboxing, is the first fighter in history to come back from open-heart surgery and continue competing at the top level.
Miller was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was fascinated by martial arts movies when he was growing up. Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme were his heroes and he wanted to emulate their exploits, which led him into various dojos and disciplines. By his early twenties he studied the Korean arts of Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do and Hapkido, the Japanese karate discipline of Uechi-ryu and the hard-hitting sport of Muay Thai.
He became a professional fighter in the latter and fought regularly in Thailand and around the world. A visually compelling figure thanks to his covering of tattoos, Miller had a do-or-die attitude that went over well with fight fans. But he almost took that too literally - ignoring the warning signs from his own body, it was only when he was subjected to a compulsory medical test prior to a 2006 fight that he learned his heart was operating at just 15 per cent capacity.
That wasn’t just something which hampers athletic performance, it is life-threatening in itself. Doctors could not believe that Miller had been able to train and compete while suffering such a depletion and they urged him to undergo surgery as soon as possible. He underwent open-heart surgery in 2007, at the age of 32, and was strongly advised to hang up his gloves.
But he never gave up hope of returning to the ring and he worked steadily to maintain his skills and his fitness. Gradually he became stronger until medics concluded that his heart was fully fit. In the summer of 2011 he returned to professional kickboxing with a lightning-fast knockout at a United Glory show in Russia. Immediately afterwards he was invited to join the Golden Glory squad, becoming the first American kickboxer to do so.
Today Miller is one of the few Americans on the international kickboxing circuit and like his 70kilo counterpart Ky Hollenbeck he wants to show that the Stars and Stripes can fly alongside the flags of other nations in the Glory World Series. With a winning personality and a rollercoaster life-story, Miller is one of the more interesting figures in the fighting world and one of the more colourful characters on the GLORY roster.