Ian Heinisch prison past is over but not forgotten

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Before his UFC debut, Ian Heinisch published a piece on The Players Tribune entitled “You Ever Been to Rikers?” In it, 'The Hurricane' disclosed the struggles of his past life including dealing and smuggling drugs, fleeing to Europe, and then ultimately spending time in a Spanish prison.

Heinisch since has turned his life around. He’s found religion, and has begun using his experience to help others and speak out against the American correctional system.

Although that part of his life is now behind him, he hasn’t forgotten it. And his bout with Tom Breese at this weekend’s UFC in London gives him a chance to revisit some of the places he previously lived.

“It’s really cool, I’m really excited to do this,” Heinisch said of his return to Europe.

But Heinisch doesn’t plan on stopping at London. After the fight, he’ll stay in Europe for a bit longer to see some places that are more meaningful to him.

“I actually just booked my ticket to Tenerife, where I actually lived for three years,” Heinisch said. “That’s where I was arrested and Canary Islands.”

Despite the fact that he was in prison for a portion of his time there, Heinisch has some fond memories of the time he spent on the Canary Islands and wants to be able to revisit some of it.

“I’m actually going to go back there and visit some old friends and just kind of show my girlfriend around,” he said.

The trip marks the second return to a continent that he had previously spent time on, and this one gives him the opportunity to complete that circle.

“It’s kind of funny because my first fight was in South America, where I used to do the illegal business down there,” he shared. “And now my next fight is in Europe where I used to live. So, it’s kind of full circle.”

While candid about his life before, Heinisch is proud to be returning to the area with a much different source of income.

“It’s pretty surreal getting to go back - being legit, working there for legal money,” Heinisch said. “I’m truly blessed by God.”

(Interview starts at 10:00 mark)

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Author Daniel Vreeland is a co-founder of the Top Turtle Podcast, and a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu at New England Submission Fighting in Amherst, Massachusetts.