Meta (nee Facebook) founder Mark Zuckerberg has undergone ACL surgery thanks to an injury sustained during his preparation for his first MMA fight.
“Tore my ACL sparring and just got out of surgery to replace it. Grateful for the doctors and team taking care of me. I was training for a competitive MMA fight early next year, but now that’s delayed a bit. Still looking forward to doing it after I recover. Thanks to everyone for the love and support.”
He wrote that on his Facebook and Instagram account along with pictures of him punching the air from his hospital bed, and also a strange one of his wife mopping his brow and tending to him as he lays there. What is that telling us about his psyche? He’s clearly a little bit proud of his injury, since it adds to his macho credentials. Especially the shot of his woman tending to his wounds! 🙂
Like many previously unathletic or “nerdy” men who discover Brazilian jiujitsu or MMA training in their middle years, it looks like Zuckerberg has been utterly consumed by his new hobby. I understand – I got consumed by a passion for BJJ when I discovered it around the time I was due a mid-life crisis. It is the perfect salve for so many things that happen to people around that time of their life. But when you combine a billionaire’s bank account with a new found passion you get the ability to take your new obsession to stratospheric levels. Zuck has done exactly what I would have done if I was a billionaire – reorganise my entire life around my new hobby and pay for the very best people in the world to train me.
For example, there’s video of him sparring with two of the UFC’s current champions on a matted training area presumably on one of his many private yachts… That’s a ridiculous level of privilege.
However, even billionaires are human and an ACL surgery is no joke. Like most people who came to BJJ later in life, I had no idea what an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) was before I took up BJJ. But once you do start BJJ you hear it mentioned so often you pick up knowledge of knee injuries by osmosis, or just go and google it to find out. Of the four main ligaments in the knee, it’s the one that snaps most often due to twisting injuries. That can happen in BJJ and MMA mainly due to takedowns/wresting or leg locks, some of which, (like the heel hook), are designed to specifically target ligaments in the knee. The idea is that you tap before injury occurs, but life is full of little accidents. Clearly Zuck has either had a takedown gone wrong or been on the wrong end of a leg lock and not tapped in time.
But people destroy their ACLs doing other things too – football is a classic example, and so is skiing. Pretty much any sport you decide to do has the potential to injure you, so you might as well pick something you love. In fact, I remember a few years ago when people used to talk about Tai Chi being really bad for your knees, however that craze seems to have died down recently.
Zuck will be back, but recovery from ACL surgery is a painful, slow and frustrating business. We’re talking months of physio-type movements just to get a normal range of movement back into the knee. He might be pumping his fist in pride in his photos at the moment, but this injury will change him. Hopefully it will give him a wider perspective on life.
If you’re going to train in combat sports then it is almost inevitable that at some point you will be injured. Especially if you go in with too much enthusiasm and passion. I too have been injured doing the sport I love, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it, but quite often it happens in moments where you’re being just a little bit reckless. The lesson for us all is that massive enthusiasm and passion for something new often needs to be tempered with a bit of restraint. Remember, look after your training partners and tap early and often.
Get well soon, Zuck!
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