ORONO – The gym has been Chris Gaudet’s home since he was a kid.
“I weighed 205 pounds when I was in sixth grade and at four feet tall that’s not really a great ratio,” Gaudet said.
He sculpted himself into a state champion bodybuilder and later became a strength trainer, which included a stint with the Florida Marlins.
But, as he recently entered his mid-50s something was missing.
“You know I was just really struggling to get to the gym just because I was real bored I needed something different,” Gaudet said.
That “difference” got him hooked on boxing.
“He (Gaudet) was like a newborn giraffe now he looks a lot cleaner a lot crisper. I dare say he’d put a lot of the local fighters half his age to shame,” Vision Quest Muay Thai MMA fighter, Josh “Hook On” Harvey said.
Harvey first met Gaudet a few years ago at Dysart’s on Broadway, where Gaudet is a bartender. Their friendship grew and so did Gaudet’s desire to enter a new ring.
“I can remember going home that night to my girlfriend and grabbing my shoulders and saying oh my god this is awesome I was so sore I was totally burnt out it was amazing,” Gaudet said.
For the last year, Harvey has been training Gaudet to become a boxer.
With his first bout two months away, Gaudet was just dealt a brutal blow.
“Even the doctor said before he went in he said Chris I think given your health history given the amount of time you spend training we’ll be able to clear you to fight,” Gaudet said.
”The next thing I knew I was waking up and that wasn’t the case,” he said.
Pre-fight screening spotted two clogged arteries in Gaudet’s heart. He’s essentially a ticking time bomb and will undergo heart surgery on Wednesday.
“I’ve trained for 47 years what could be wrong? Doctor’s say you feel great don’t you I feel fantastic I feel amazing,” Gaudet said.
The sport that reignited his flame, also saved him.
Thanks to his coach, who’s MMA bout this weekend is the biggest of his life.
“I’m going to bring his (Gaudet’s) enthusiasm and his determination into the cage on Saturday night and this one goes out to Chris,” Harvey said.
“He’s (Harvey) amazing and I say the bottom line is if it wasn’t for him I who knows where I’d be in the next year so I expect to see this man somewhere on a bigger stage within the year and I want to see it with my own eyes,” Gaudet said.
The prognosis is positive for Gaudet as doctors expect him to recover and resume training.
Harvey will fight Jesse Erickson at NEF 42: Symphony of Destruction Saturday at 7 p.m. at Merrill Auditorium in Portland.