Harry Hunsucker didn’t have the easiest start in life. Born just outside Cleveland, Ohio, he moved to Kentucky after his mother left an abusive relationship. “We left Ohio with nothing but the clothes on our backs,” he explained. His mother worked hard to provide a good life for him and his brother, but left alone while she worked, they took to the streets.
The brothers started drinking and using drugs in middle school. Harry’s father, who has only recently become part of his life, was in and out of jail. His brother also has been in and out of jail, prison and rehab centers. Many of his friends went down the same road. Harry decided he wanted more out of life.
On a memorable school field trip, he visited EKU. He couldn’t imagine going to college, but found himself interested in what the Communications Department had to offer. He took Introduction to Public Speaking with John Strada. “I liked him a lot as a person and teacher,” Harry said, “even though public speaking scared me to death at the time.”
He still “freaks out” a bit, but he is now a sought-after inspirational speaker who was recently the keynote speaker at the EKU Communications Department annual conference. He counsels students to “build a strong network of friends while in college" and to get to know their professors. "When I visit EKU now, my former professors are my friends. I can talk to them.”
In his keynote speech, he described how he called upon an inner strength to beat the odds, graduate and become a successful businessman. It takes discipline, leadership and motivation. “Get to know people. Encourage others to work for the collective good. Build trust. When you are comfortable with others, it makes it easier to be creative and creativity is the most important thing in business.”
He is now the general manager of three successful martial arts schools, but his accomplishments don’t stop there. He is also a high-ranked professional athlete and fighter. He has been fighting and competing in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) since 2008. He holds three amateur heavyweight title belts and high ranks in multiple styles of martial arts. He recently won his first professional heavyweight championship at Hard Rock MMA 111.
Harry hopes by telling his story he can lift up students and help them achieve their goals, especially those who have had a difficult start in life. "I’ve been through some very tough stuff. I watched my mom be abused. I was abused myself. I was poor, involved with drugs and thought I would never make anything of myself." Harry tells young people, "find and hold on to your identity and if you lose it, find it again. Don’t abandon friends and family, but limit the time you spend with unsuccessful people.”
In the future Harry plans to continue running the martial arts schools. He hopes to fight and compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship one day and continue to speak and inspire his community.