Martial Arts Fighter Luke Rockhold Sculpts Bongs

Luke Rockhold, a middleweight mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter on the UFC circuit, almost left the ring to devote himself to the potter’s wheel. “I was thinking about majoring in art, but I just found that it’s very hard to sell yourself in that world,” he told MMA Junkie. “I like to do it when I have time, but I’m so busy… It takes a long time, and I’m very meticulous, and everything has got to be perfect.”

Rockhold—whose MMA record is 12 wins and 2 losses, and who is ranked the number 9 MMA fighter in the world—was a passionate sculptor before he took up martial arts. He even notched an early victory when he won his county’s high school art show—with an elaborately sculpted bong.

“I’m not going to lie—let’s just put it out there—I made a bong,” Rockhold told MMA Junkie.

He recalls: “I made a bong, and my ceramics teacher would always break all these bongs. Anybody who would try to fire a bong, when it got to the firing shelf, he would see it, and he would break it. He would break all these guys’ bongs… I sat there and made the most intricate (bong), like disguised it to the max, and you could not even understand what was going on. At the end, he saw it on the shelf, and then he actually took it and held it front of every one of his classes and said, ‘If you put this much time and effort and you are this good, I will fire it for you.’”

So what, exactly, did this elaborately disguised sculptural bong look like? “It’s a head, this crazy alien head, and then another head is morphing out, and this guy’s climbing out of it, and then there’s another guy getting older, so it’s kind of morphing, the whole thing,” Rockhold said. “The head is coming out the top, and there’s this old guy at the top, and he’s wrinkled and his mouth is open and the eyeball comes out the bottom. It’s a pretty cool piece.”

Pretty cool, indeed. This pop surrealist aesthetic seems to be consistent throughout Rockhold’s oeuvre, based on his description of a work he made for his father, former professional basketball player Steve Rockhold. According to MMA Junkie, “the fighter crafted a piece for his dad that depicts a man with no arms and a hand breaking out of his heart that’s choking him.”

Provided his hands don’t get too badly damaged from fighting, it sounds like Rockhold should have no trouble sparking his art career when he retires from MMA.

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