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WORDS OF INSPIRATION: A conversation with the King Print E-mail
Written by NICK PALMER   
Monday, 20 October 2014 21:44

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Each week Minnesota standout amateur fighter Nick "The Inspiration" Palmer is given a free pass to write about any topic, and he provides Minnesota MMA fans with an inside look into the world of fighting. Enjoy "Words of Inspiration.")

Minnesota MMA standout Dan "The King" Kiser was severely injured in a non-title fight in Detroit Lakes, Minn., last May during a co-promoted (Impact, Driller) MMA event entitled "No Mercy II." Kiser fought Frankie Johnson in the night's main event. It was scheduled to be a 145-title fight, but Johnson missed weight, so Kiser retained his Impact title.

Early in the fight, Johnson landed a left hand that rocked Kiser. But he recovered quickly, which is commonplace for the always-tough Kiser. He shot for a blast-double and took Johnson to the mat. After some ground-and-pound, Kiser stood up and looked to rain down punches on the grounded Johnson. But Johnson landed a couple of up-kicks. After the second up-kick landed, Kiser was visibly stunned and a scramble ensued. Kiser grabbed on to Johnson's leg and looked for a kneebar.

After a few moments, Kiser's body went limp. It did not appear that Johnson landed any other significant strikes. Johnson latched on to a rear-naked choke and the ref quickly noticed Kiser was unresponsive and stopped the fight.

After Johnson let go of the choke, Kiser did not wake up. He stopped breathing momentarily, but was breathing again when he was put in the ambulance. He was taken to a local hospital and then was moved to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where he remained for weeks. Kiser suffered a traumatic brain injury and a tracheal collapse during the fight, along with damage to his vertebrae.

The injuries left him in a coma. Kiser had many setbacks, but he kept fighting and he's now on the road to recovery. He still has a long way to go with therapy, but the King is getting better and better every day.

We caught up with Kiser to find out his thoughts on the tragic event and exactly what the future holds for the King.

How long were you in a coma? What is it like being in a coma? Is it just black and you don’t remember anything or did you have any weird dreams?

KISER: I was in a coma for like seven days. I don't remember anything. Just black. People say you see the light or have these crazy dreams, you don't. Just black.

Did you experience any kind of near-death experience, like seeing God or angels?
KISER: I did see God. I don't remember, but I guess when I woke up out of my coma I said I met him. And the weird thing is I talked about people who were already dead. So that kind of creeped my family out. I think near-death experiences are real because I had one.

What kinds of therapy have you had to go through or are still going through since your injury?

KISER: I went from infancy to a grown up. I had to learn to eat, talk, walk and even lift weights as low as one pound. A lot of balance and learning to walk again.

Do you suffer from any short-term or long-term memory loss? If so, do you see things starting to get better or easier for you?

KISER: I have really bad short-term memory loss. I have some long-term memory loss, but the majority is short term. I have to have another test on my brain in May, and they said wherever I am at that time is where I'll be forever, so I'm hoping the testing in May is better.

Are you angry about what happened? What goes through your heads these days? What kind of emotions are you feeling?

KISER: I was very angry at first. Very bitter, but I learned quick that being mad and bitter won't help me. I can hate everyone, but that won't do me any good. I'm a big boy and I made a choice and it changed my life forever. But as time went on, I'm not bitter anymore. I have my kids that need me. They are my life.

I’ve heard some people say that you’re a walking miracle. What do you think when you hear that?

KISER: It's nice to hear, but the people who say that don't know what I went through. It was hell. Am I a miracle? I'd like to think so because I should not be on earth right now. I should be a past memory, but a miracle didn't help me to where I am. My good friends and most of all my family helped me to where I am today.

How did it feel to hit mitts again?

KISER: It was the greatest feeling in the world. Most MMA guys hate it. I hated it because it seemed pointless and petty. But just getting the chance to hit pads again was amazing. I really wanted to cry after it because it was something I had been longing for after I got hurt. It's the little things that you miss.

What percentage of you still wants to compete and fight and what have the doctors told you?

KISER: 100 percent of me wants to fight again. I think about fighting every day. I didn't get the chance to quit on my own terms, it ended in just one moment. I was looking at the future so much that when I realized I probably won't fight again, it hurts. The doctors are very adamant that if I fight again, I could die.

If you’re not able to fight again, how do you think you will spend your time? Will you still be a part of the MMA scene?

KISER: I would like to be part of MMA. MMA has been a huge part of my life for the last five years. I almost feel lost without it. Coach Tom Schmitz wants me to help corner guys or teach kids classes, and Jeremy Bjornberg is helping me be apart of the commission. So I have plenty of angles to keep in it. But it's still a sore spot not getting to fight. I like the never-say-never aspect.

You have a wonderful family and they have been there for you through this entire situation. How does that make you feel having such a great support system?

KISER: It's what helped me stay alive to be honest. My kids need a dad and my wife needs me as much as I need her. My parents are amazing and so are my brothers and sisters. Even though it was tragic what happened to me, I saw my family grow closer together from it. But I don't think I would have made it without them. Everyone was in my best interest. It was all about getting me better.

When dealing with adversity we often ask God, why me? Have you asked this question?

KISER: I have. I often thought it was because of my past. Was I a mean guy? Did I deserve it? I often think God just reached out and touched me and was letting me know that I needed to change my ways and be a better person and that my life could change at the drop of a hat. And it did. My life changed 180 degrees since then.

What has been the absolute toughest part of your recovery?

KISER: Just learning to walk or even learn things most 27-year-olds wouldn't have to learn.

The Minnesota MMA community came together like never before to support The King. You didn't get to see all that support at the time, but I'm sure you've had time to see it now. Thoughts?

KISER: I've only had my phone for about a month now. I did look and see what people were saying, and it was amazing to see that people actually cared. People were very caring. I liked knowing that people were wondering about me.

Have you been able to watch video from that night? If not, would you ever want to or not something you're interested in seeing?

KISER: Inside MMA did a story on me, and I only saw a clip of my fight from there. Would I want to watch the fight? Not really because I know the outcome. I'm living the outcome. Maybe in time I will, but as of right now, it's not something I'm interested in watching.

Do you feel like your old self or are you still noticing differences?

KISER: I kind of feel like myself. But my memory is worse and my balance is way off. It's like I'm drunk when I walk. Other than that, I feel pretty good.

Was there ever a time when you were conscious enough to say, shit, I might not make it?

KISER: Yes, my family didn't want to tell me I had an aneurism, and one day I heard a pop in my head, and I had the worst headache ever and they rushed me to get a CAT scan. Afterword, my family told me about the aneurism, and I still think about it because if it had burst then I'm good as dead. I'm terrified about dying.

What's the last thing you remember from that night? And what's your first memory from afterward?

KISER: The last thing I remember is going to Subway the day of then driving to the event. Then I wake up in a hospital bed. Funny story is I wake up in the hospital and I had to go to the bathroom. Well I just thought my legs were sleepy, I didn't know that they didn't work. Well I pull them to the side of the bed to get up. They couldn't handle my weight, so when I went to stand, I fell flat on my face. My bed had an alarm, it went blaring off and the nursing staff just floored the room. Let's just say I was less than happy. I flipped out because I was confused. Little did I know I was in the hospital a month before I had any memory.

Is there anything you would like to add? Anyone you would like to thank?

KISER: I just want to thank everyone for helping me along the way. I've always had help in the past. People were always just trying to better me and I tried to pass that along, but when I got hurt, people just really wanted to help me with life. It's been a long road since May, but it's everyone's positive attitude that helped me when I wasn't so positive.


NOTE: Kiser still has a mountain of medical bills from his injuries. If you're interested in helping the King, please click the link below and donate any amount you can. It all helps.