David Branch preps for toughest test

By Frank Curreri

Facing off against a crushing leg lock specialist like Rousimar Palhares is fraught with risk, but it’s a cakewalk compared to UFC fighter David Branch’s previous job. The gregarious New Yorker endured more than four years as an iron worker, widely regarded as one of America’s most dangerous and deadliest professions.

“It’s hard as hell, man. I worked on some of the highest buildings in New York City, walking beams,” said the 29-year-old Branch, who lives in the same rough Brownsville, New York, neighborhood that produced boxing icon “Iron” Mike Tyson. “You’ve got to climb, grind and haul heavy materials and boxes up and down stairs. It’s a very difficult job.”

Every work day – following a night of intense MMA practices — Branch would rise at 5 a.m., and usually climb atop a towering steel beam by 7:30 a.m. He might be situated 30 stories or higher in the sky.

“I would sit on top of a building and look around at all of New York City,” he said. “I’d say to myself, ‘There’s got to be a better way. This is not me.’

 

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