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Mixed Martial Arts

St-Pierre talks bullying and more on visit to old high school

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The Canadian Press
9/27/2012 7:31:45 PM
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ST-REMI, Que. -- Standing in the basement weight room that now bears his name, the ever-competitive Georges St-Pierre fought the temptation to try and match an old score: his own high-school chin-up record.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship title-holder, wearing a suit, wanted to see if he could still pull off 50 chin ups, like he did as a 16-year-old at Pierre-Bedard school. St-Pierre's record still stands in the 16-and-over category -- in fact, it remains posted on the weight room's wall.

"The thing is, because I'm dressed like this I can't show you, otherwise I would," St-Pierre, 31, said Thursday, after speaking to students there about, among other things, how to handle the challenges of bullying.

"I don't even know if I can do this today, you know if I'm (even) able to do 50 chin ups... I'm a better fighter now, but before maybe I was a better chin-up guy."

For the first time in years, the mixed-martial-arts star returned to his former high school south of Montreal, where the modest workout room was officially designated: Salle Georges St-Pierre.

The UFC welterweight champ also had another mission at Pierre-Bedard, which he graduated from more than a decade ago.

St-Pierre spoke to a gymnasium packed with some 500 students on how he overcame doubts about himself, fears about his menacing opponents and the challenges of being bullied as a kid.

"People see how I am now, but I wasn't always like this," he told the audience, which exploded in cheers when he walked into the gym in the rural community of St-Remi.

"While I was growing up, I wasn't very popular, I didn't have lots of friends, especially in elementary school."

He said older kids pushed him around and his grades suffered as a result.

St-Pierre, which started the Fondation Georges St-Pierre to combat bullying, spoke about the importance of teaching bullies how hurtful their actions can be.

He also told victims that many of the problems they face now will get easier after they graduate from school.

"Even though we have obstacles when we're young... it doesn't mean our life is sinking," said St-Pierre, who grew up in nearby St-Isidore.

"You'll keep the same old friends, who are your true friends, but the people... who make fun of you will disappear because they won't be part of your life."

One of St-Pierre's best friends from his high-school days came to the school to see his buddy honoured.

St-Pierre gave a big hug to Guy Lahaie, a pal he still makes time for, despite a busy training schedule.

"He's the same guy as before, except that he has an international career," said Lahaie, who had St-Pierre as his best man for his 2003 wedding.

"He's still the same little guy from the neighbourhood."

Lahaie, who lives in St-Remi, recalled how he and St-Pierre were both sports nuts during their high-school days. They would play ice hockey, street hockey and spent their school lunch breaks on a nearby basketball court.

The teens also loved professional wrestling, he said. But eventually their attention shifted to the fledgling UFC and its legendary Brazilian champion, Royce Gracie.

"We were crazy about it," said Lahaie, adding that St-Pierre had already begun karate training at that time.

"I knew he had potential."

In November, St-Pierre (22-2) will defend his UFC title against American Carlos Condit (28-5) at what will likely be a sold-out Bell Centre in Montreal. It will be the seventh time St-Pierre defends his belt.

Lahaie, who used to train with St-Pierre in the school weight room, said he was standing beside his buddy when he broke the Pierre-Bedard chin-up record.

"He did them pretty easily," Lahaie recalled.

But while St-Pierre's mark in the 16-and-over category still stands, the weight-room wall reveals that his overall school record has since been eclipsed by a kid named Dany in the 15-and-under division.

The poster hanging on the wall says that Dany Remillard ripped off 55 chin ups.

"Oh, my God," said a surprised St-Pierre as he glanced up at the wall, a moment after a reporter told him about the new record.

"I don't know if I can do that any more... but this guy, he's a stud. Dany Remillard (is) a pretty strong guy. Maybe a future UFC champion."

Georges St. Pierre (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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