TOPEKA, KS (KSNT) – Topeka’s Kelvin Tiller is a professional fighter, but he’s been fighting for survival his entire life.
“Had my first gun pointed at my face at 14 point-blank right to my forehead,” says Tiller.
Tiller started selling drugs at 14 years old so he could buy shoes.
“I’ve had teachers tell me I wouldn’t make it to 18,” Tiller told KSNT Sports.
But at 29 years old, Kelvin Tiller is still standing.
“It was just rough, poor, no dad around, my mom worked two jobs, sometimes three jobs to keep food on the table,” said Tiller whose nickname is “The Mama’s Boy.”
Tiller found MMA and is now one of the top up and coming fighters in the Professional Fighters League.
“A lot of guys they’ll just bite down on their mouthpiece and just throw. Kelvin will set his punches up. To me fighting like that is like an art,” says Tiller’s coach Shanon Woodward.
Tiller is using his MMA success to give back to his community.
“Last year when he won a fight, went and got a hundred coats, going door to door, passing coats out, went and got the school supply list, got 100 book bags with all the school supplies in. He didn’t set this up, he was just going out passing these things out,” says Woodward.
“Trying to show my kids this is a different way and not just my kids, other neighborhood kids that there’s a different way, that we don’t have to go down that road carrying guns, selling drugs,” added Tiller.
In October, Tiller heads to Las Vegas for the PFL playoffs with $1 million dollars at stake.
“He’s using this as his mission and I truly think after he wins a million dollars, when he retires I think his true work will begin then,” says Woodward.
“I come from where they come from, so now I hope those kids look up to me and they’re able to go down a right path if they’re going down a wrong path.” said Tiller.
Tiller’s next fight is Thursday, August 8th on ESPN Plus.