A modern ‘Danny Boy’ Delivering Heavy Goods In and Out of the Cage

If you sit down for a second and capture in your mind’s eye, the image of a Heavy Goods Vehicle driver, it probably won’t be the physique, of Welterweight Daniel ‘Obi Wan’ Olejniczak that pops into your brain.

Yes it’s unlikely you’ll find Daniel hanging outta the end of a greasy breakfast roll and guzzling down 2 litres of Pepsi on his travels across the North.

Daniel is 5 fights into his professional career and having just spent 10 minutes listening to his work and training schedule. I need to sit down have a rest myself.

“Unfortunately living out of MMA is not possible at the moment so i have to keep my full-time job. I am working as HGV driver , So I’m driving trucks all over Northern Ireland. I’m doing that Monday to Friday. All that means is that i have to do twice as much work in my training period. I still train twice a day and both session are hard.

I’m getting up at 3:30am on a workday to be in the gym for 4am. So maybe a 10K run or circuits. Then I’m going to work for 6AM and leaving Belfast at 7 usually. Depends on how many deliveries I’ve got. Usually back in Belfast between 4 or 5 pm. Go home and get changed. then head into IFS for training at 6PM for a couple of hours. Home and get ready for the next day. Cooking my Chicken and rice. I work as a Doorman as well two nights at the weekend”

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The first thought that popped into my mind was ‘ Is this guy getting enough rest’?. At this point, I should say that, after chatting with him for awhile, you find yourself rooting for him. Blogger integrity (if such a thing exists!) goes out the window. Someone that works this hard deserves a shot at the next level up the professional ranks.

The second thought that popped into my head was, if i had a 6 pack and a cardio engine I’d probably spend a lot more time climbing into bed at 3:30am than climbing out of it. No over 40s MMA career for me then.

“To be honest I don’t complain about lack of rest. If i feel my body deteriorating I go ‘Wow Daniel Take a break’ and I take a break. I’ll tell my coach look I need to take a day or couple of days off. My coach knows I’m a proper workhorse so we work out what’s best. So a day or two rest and then we go again”

Daniel feels he has another few years to make the most of what he’s got and is giving it 110%.

“Absolutely it (MMA) consumes my Life…I’m single so maybe that’s why I don’t notice it. I don’t have any distractions at the moment. I don’t have a girlfriend or any kids whose time i am neglecting. So i can sacrifice a lot at the moment without hurting anyone. I can focus completely on what I’m doing. At the moment all I have is the dog!”

At 10K a cardio session, I bet that is one dog terrified of going for a walk with its owner. Daniel is spot on though. This is what it takes to have any chance to get to the top. Whether it is in MMA or any walk of life. Talent is one thing, however the talent for hard work, is what separates the successful from the also-rans. All it takes is everything you’ve got.

The MMA die-hards amongst you may remember Daniel ‘Obi Wan’ Olejniczak fought Richard Kiely on the BAMMA 30 card about 18 months ago. The fight is famous due to the fact it briefly found it’s way on to the front pages of the Irish newspapers due to a scuffle between them at the Weigh-ins. Olejniczak lost that fight but learned a few valuable lessons he won’t be in a hurry to forget.

“The pro game and the amateur game are quite different in terms of promoting the fight. Interviews, Cameras and the buzz around it

To be honest i learned a lot from Richard despite the fact that I lost the fight. I learned a lot about the Pro fight game in terms of media. All that controversy and trash-talking in the lead up to the fight. I was new to that. I was an absolutely beginner in terms of all of that. It just showed me that his way of promoting the fight, his way of trying to get in your head, the weigh-ins and trash-talking – i learned a lot from the cage and from outside that cage in that fight “

Indeed I have Interviewed the Bellator signed Richie Kiely twice, back when he was signed to the BAMMA promotion. The biggest compliment i can pay him is that he is the best self-promoter on the Island whose name isn’t Conor McGregor.

He instinctively gets that in the professional game – the ability to promote and create a buzz is an essential ingredient to being successful and getting opportunities.

Indeed if you look at the differing fortunes of both fighters since that fight it is quite interesting. Bellator signed a number of Welterweights during the summer Kiely included. A notable ommision would have been Daniel in my opinion. His fight record of 2 wins, a draw and 2 losses as a professional bears comparison with Kiely’s 2 wins and 1 loss as a pro. Notwithstanding Kiely’s clean finish of Daniel on the night of BAMMA 30.

” I had a multi-fight deal with BAMMA. Before BAMMA went on hold for the foreseeable future. I was signed to fight a few more but then that all changed during the summer when they put a hold on things so it looks like I’m a free agent. So i’ll be fighting for whoever wants to put me on a show!

The way i was looking at. After i turned Pro and then debuted on BAMMA, And it was massive you know. Massive crowds, people streaming it online and watching on TV. fighting in Arenas is a massive step up.

This time last year or the last few years BAMMA was a brilliant platform for upcoming fighters that turned pro to get exposure and to showcase themselves to go on to fight on Bigger promotions like Bellator, Brave Combat and the UFC. BAMMA was that perfect show to open Doors for you. From the BAMMA cage everything was possible. The headhunters were watching BAMMA “

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Indeed BAMMA’s pause has left more than a few fighters in limbo. As Daniel points out there are not many promotions that have the scope and reach of A BAMMA. Cage Warriors are the only one i can think of in the UK and Ireland.

‘ Bellator is the second biggest promotion in the world. It would nice one day to fight for them. I leave all of that to Paul McLoughlin he is my manager on all of that stuff. Definitely an option though. Paul is working very hard to get the best deals out there and he is brilliant at looking out for us.

Most people I talk to have a very high opinion of Daniel as a fighter so I was surprised that he only came into the sport 5 years ago and that prior to that he had ZERO exposure to Martial Arts or Combat Sports of any kind.

” I was always going to the gym and lifting weights and then i wanted to go as a spectator to a Clan Wars show which was in Ulster Hall….I rang Paul McLoughlin (head coach at IFS MMA) for tickets. They were after moving from Antrim into Belfast so i went into the gym to collect the tickets and got chatting and he said do you want give MMA a go

I didn’t have any martial arts background whatsoever when i started, No Boxing , grappling nothing I started as an IFS beginner and that’s how the story goes”

That’s was 5 years ago it’s been some journey and i still have a few years to go yet!”

That real Journey began over 12 years ago when Daniel arrived in Northern Ireland Like thousands of other immigrants – just looking for a decent job. His sister works in Germany and his mother still lives in his native Poland.

His Mother is arriving in Belfast in the next few days and it will be the first time she has seen him fight.

” No parent wants to see their child get punched in the face!

But she can see what the sport has given me outside the Cage. Discipline. Focus. Work Ethic. It’s been a big change and she is a fan of all those things. It will be great to have her in the Ulster hall and an added incentive to do well! “

Makinde Adeyemi v Oktawain Daniel Olenjiczak is the main event at Clan Wars 33 on November 17th. Daniel has an association with Clan Wars stretching back to his amateur days

” I was scheduled to be fighting on the BAMMA card in December but when BAMMA fell through..I wanted to stay active. I want to fight anywhere and anybody so that’s how Clan Wars came about. I have only fought twice this year and I like to fight 3 or 4 times a year.

But I love Clan Wars. I fought a couple of times for them as an amateur and i was even the Welterweight champion for them when i was an amateur. This my first time as a pro fighting for them.

It’s a main event in Ulster Hall and the Ulster Hall is just an Iconic venue in Belfast. All the Legends of boxing have fought there. There isn’t a fighter in Ireland that doesn’t want to headline an event in the Ulster Hall. Can’t wait.

Whenever i’m fighting in Belfast I get great support and just want to leave 110% in the cage. So when they are buying a ticket for a show again, they think yeah I want to see Obi Wan fight again””

Olenjiczak is very familiar with the history and culture of fighting in the city of Belfast. He is spot on too about the iconic status of both the Ulster Hall and the people and fights that have taken place there. When your chatting to him it’s easy to forget he’s Polish as he speaks in that fast, lyrical Belfast rhythm.

He doesn’t know much about his opponent but he is not unduly fazed by that as swapping and changing of opponents at this level of the Professional game is commonplace.

I don’t know much about him but I know he’s going to be shorter, he’s going to be stockier and he’s going to be strong. It’s his 2nd pro fight. There are two scenarios i think.

He’s gonna charge forward and ram like a bull or maybe the bright lights of Ulster Hall and the crowd standing behind me is gonna put him on Hold a bit and i will march forward.

Either way it’s gonna be a really entertaining fight. I’m a well rounded fighter so if he wants to wrestle or grapple we can do that as well no problem.

So Basically – I was waiting for an opponent for this fight for 4 or 5 weeks. As far as i know 5 or 6 opponents turned it down and didn’t want to fight or couldn’t.

I usually only walk around at about 87 Kgs or you know no more than 10 Kgs heavier. I’m ready since i was told, 7 weeks ago, I’m fighting at the Ulster Hall – even though I didn’t know who the opponent was. I knew Clan Wars would get that side of things done. It doesn’t matter who the opponent for this one. I’m gonna implement my game plan “

As far as I am aware tickets for Clan Wars 33 are almost sold out already. If you haven’t got them. Get clicking quickly.

Oh yeah, Hari BhagiRath if you are reading this get one of the Brave Combat matchmakers onto this Guy. #Justsaying

Photographs courtesy of William G Strain Photography

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