MMA competitor Shane Kruchten talks Hunters Helping Heroes, fishing after injuries sustained in Iraq

MMA competitor Shane Kruchten talks Hunters Helping Heroes, fishing after injuries sustained in Iraq

Shane Kruchten vs. Jeremy Mahon, WSOF 34
Shane Kruchten vs. Jeremy Mahon, WSOF 34

The last time mixed martial arts fans saw “War Rhino” Shane Kruchten compete professionally was New Year’s Eve, December 31, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Kruchten took on fellow Marine Corps Veteran, Jeremy Mahon, in a “Who’s Toughest” tournament that paired military veterans off against one another to find out who truly is the best.

The World Series of Fighting 34 event was the next to last event under the WSOF banner, before the organization was purchased and launched under a new name, the Professional Fighters League.

Now talking about an injury that occurred in the fight and his absence from competition, we spoke to Kruchten about what he has been doing in the mean time.  The medically retired Lance Corporal recently returned from a fishing trip he took along with a group of wounded warriors.  The trip, hosted by the non-profit organization Hunters Helping Heroes, provided these heroes with therapeutic time on the water, fishing for Walleye and Northern Pike, at no expense to them.  HHH founder, and Air Force Veteran Ryan Miller tells MyMMANews that FishAddictions was also instrumental in setting up the trip.

“This was our fifth year in a row doing the event through them,” Miller said.

Hunters Helping Heroes was created by sportsmen who all have the same passion for the outdoors. The organization focuses on extending their sincere gratitude to all of our country’s heroes.

Tell us a little bit about your enlistment and what led to your injuriesShane Kruchen fishing, Hunters Helping Heroes

“I enlisted in 2002 on my 17th birthday,” Kruchten said. “I then deployed to Iraq for (Operation Iraqi Freedom) OIF 1 and OIF 2, and I was part of the initial invasion.  I was wounded in action April 29, 2003.  That’s when I was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  After that I was medically released from the Marine Corps in 2005 due to wounds sustained in combat, and inability to continue service.”

So, just last month you were invited to go on this trip with Hunters Helping Heroes. Walk us through that.

“It was amazing.  We landed, my first time meeting everyone at the airport, and I was able to meet Ryan, the organizer and founder of the event, his grandfather, and the other wounded warriors.  It was kind of a small world.  They also say ‘Veterans are a tight knit group,’ and ‘tight knit family,’ and low and behold, there were two other Marines on the trip, and both Marines were part of my unit.  All three of us were from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  It was kind of a small world, but all three of us were different generations within 5th Marines so it was kind of cool that we all had that brotherhood.

“My roommate happened to be one of the only amputees on the trip and he was from 3/5, so I knew about his accident before I even met him.  He fell from a helicopter during a training mission.  Here all of a sudden the guy I heard about was my roommate.”

“We met some really incredible people. Scheels Sports took care of us, doing this whole welcome ceremony after breakfast the first day.  They ended up doing colors, they had a bunch of staff members and people from the community coming out and wishing us luck.  They gave us $250 gift cards and get much needed items for fishing.  We split up, two warriors per boat, and it was a really cool experience.  The first day’s weather really sucked, it was horrible, but because of the groups that we were with and the guides that were attached to us, it made it enjoyable.  It was raining and there were waves, but it was still a very fun time.  Then we all had dinner together that night.  The next day of fishing was great.  The water was like glass and I think every boat maxed out their fishing limit.  We did on the first day as well but on the second day we did it in about four hours.  We were welcomed and treated like the locals, members of the community.  To be in an area with so much history like Devil’s Lake was amazing.

“We saw giant grain silos under water in the middle of a lake.  We were fishing on top of roads.  It was really cool.  I’ve never been to North Dakota so this was a great first experience.”

Any news on the MMA front?  WSOF is now PFL.  Will we see you competing for the Professional Fighters League?

“There isn’t.  There has been open communication with myself and Carlos Silva and Ray Sefo.  Unfortunately right now I am a free agent.  I don’t have anything on the books, no fights lined up, no contracts.  Definitely working on one.  I had an injury that I sustained on December 31 (Mahon fight), that I needed surgery for.  I’ve kept that pretty much under the wraps but now with the healing process almost complete, now I’m opening up and telling about it.  It was scary for a while but now I am ready to fight.  Recently I called out Andre ‘The Bull’ Harrison, the 145-pound champ for WSOF.  They posted his opponent’s picture on Twitter and they had his record, his subs, his decision wins, and everything.  I wrote back saying ‘I have 12 wins. Where’s my shot?’  I’m ready for the top of the top.  I’m 12 for 13 in my last 13.  I don’t know why it is so hard to get a fight.”

Shane Kruchten, Scheels, Hunters Helping Heroes

“I completely tore my patella tendon during the first round (Mahon fight) as I went for the high crotch take down in my last fight.  Everyone was like ‘oh the fight was lackluster and all he did is out ground him.’ Well yeah, I couldn’t move.  My knee popped three time as I tried to lift him in the turn and that’s why I was limping after the fight.  I needed complete reconstruction on my left knee.”

“When I told Jeremy about it after the fight he said, ‘I wish you would have told me about it during the fight.'” (laughs).  “One of the kicks he threw to the knee (without him knowing it was injured), made me double think being in the fight. It was a gut test pushing through and showing heart.”

Did the Hunters Helping Heroes trip help you therapeutically?

“Yeah, not so much with my injury, but helping with showing me another avenue of therapy. A positive outlook.  Fishing is a great source of therapy.  It is so calm out there, just being able to talk with other guys with similar stories and rattle of thoughts to another individual, on top of being able to fish, it was so peaceful.  It showed me another way of therapy that is constructive.  It is a very healthy way of therapy.”

Find out more about Hunters Helping Heroes here

Shane Kruchten, wounded Veterans, Hunters Helping Heroes

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