The path, from Princeton University to Wall St., with a comfortable living and the perks of NYC available to a not-unattractive Ivy Leaguer fitness buff, sounds like a guaranteed recipe for happiness for many.
Not so Jake Butler. At his desk at Thor Equities, his mind would drift, from dealmaking and numbers crunching, to the mat. He'd think back to his time spent at Princeton where he ascended to team captain and qualified for the NCAA D1 wrestling championships. Many days, he tried to treat the symptoms, the restlessness, the daydreams, with a savage workout before dawn and after work. But it didn't help the 2006 graduate. "Spending my days staring at a screen and doing something I didn't enjoy, it became harder and harder," he said.
The fighter still remained. He felt the urge to compete and to push himself beyond the limits of regular folks. Butler knew he wasn't done.
Society might shake its collective head at his choice, unable to comprehend why he'd chuck the cushy job and long term security for the fighting life, but he didn't care.
The New Jersey native knew it, but he kept trying to tamp down the symptoms. He left Thor and traveled to Asia doing some real estate deals. But the symptoms re-appeared.
In 2011, he decided he needed to address his urge to compete. In January 2012, he signed on to coach wrestling at Evolve Gym in Singapore. The facility was started and run by a man named Chatri Sityodtong, a Thai native who attended Harvard for an MBA and then ran a hedge fund. Butler would coach and also train to fight.
"I know people might view it as a waste of education and a degree, but there's only a small window of opportunity to pursue this, and it's really my passion," Butler told NYFightblog. "It would be foolish not to try this route. My old job, I can always go back to that. This is something I have to do now. My friends and family members have been very supportive of my decision. They understand that it is in my blood to compete and they just want me to be happy. I don't get to see them as much now that I'm living in Singapore but I try to keep in touch."
He's 30 years old. The window is open but not as wide open as if he took to the path right out of college. He's fighting for One Fighting Championship, a Singapore-based outfit which was founded in July, 2011. They are the biggest MMA organization in Asia, and their events are seen on ESPN Star Sports. Butler debuted with a win over Antoni Romulo (TKO1-punches) on Feb. 2, and looks to go to 2-0 when he faces Nuur Muhammad on April 5 in Signapore.
Butler has a message for head shakers, "For people who still question my decision, I just want them to know that this is my passion and I do not regret my decision. I am happy with what I am doing."