EP9: Michael Bentt: Fighting For His Life. In And Out Of The Ring.


I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s guest Michael Bentt. Michael is best known as a WBO World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, an actor (most notably in the movie Ali starring Will Smith) and is also featured in the first episode of the Netflix original series Losers.

I have to tell you that my conversation with Michael was very personal, very raw and very real. He shares with us his struggles with his father including physical abuse and struggles with suicide and the very, very hard moments he experienced when he was competing. Please take very good care of yourself while listening to this episode and check out the resources listed below if you need them.

Michael’s story and outlook on life are not only inspirational but truly out of this world. He truly believes in being a champion in his life and it’s clear that whatever he sets out to do he is determined to do his best.

“I don’t limit myself.” (Click to tweet!)
~ Michael Bentt

I’m certain that Michael’s story will one day be depicted in a movie on the big screen. After listening to our conversation I’m certain that you’ll agree. He shared so many insights and wisdom that he has gathered and learned over the years. I really appreciated that he mentioned that “books and mentors” are what saved him. When he was at his darkest, he sought knowledge and asked for help. That’s something we can all learn from I’m sure.

I hope that what you take from this conversation is some inspiration to seek out a helping hand or some knowledge to help you in your dark moments. I’d love to hear what you think of this conversation and how you see it translating to your own life. Be sure to comment below or connect with me on Instagram to tell me all about it.

More About Michael Bentt

A former WBO world heavyweight boxing champion, winner of four New York City Golden Gloves titles and five U.S. Amateur titles, and former captain of the US National Boxing team. 

After retiring from boxing in 1994, Bentt enrolled in Northampton College (Bethlehem, PA) where he studied journalism and acting. His work would eventually appear in the New York Daily News and on the HBO Boxing website.

A few years later, Bentt penned “Anatomy of a Knockout” for Bert Sugar’s Fight Game magazine. The essay helped lead the former boxer to the coveted role of Charles ‘Sonny’ Liston in Michael Mann’s feature film Ali. In addition to acting, Bentt also served as the chief sparring partner and assistant trainer for Will Smith, whose portrayal earned him an Academy Award nomination.

Bentt has also instructed five-time Grammy Award winner and film composer, Terence Blanchard, Damon Dash, the late rapper and actor Heavy D, Steven Seagal and MacArthur Grant recipient and Tony Award nominee Anna Deavere Smith, among others, on the virtues and benefits of being ‘fighting fit’. In 2016, he served as a personal instructor and artistic associate at Deavere Smith’s Notes From The Field: Doing Time in Education, The School To Prison Pipeline Project at The American Repertory Theatre (Harvard University, 2016).

As an actor, Bentt has worked with Academy Award nominees Michael Mann and Ron Shelton and Academy Award winners Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone. He is a guest actor alum of the internationally acclaimed Joan Scheckel Filmmakers Lab.  In 2019, Bentt was the subject of the premier episode of “Losers,” an eight-episode docu-series that brings context and humanity to failure in and around sports. Bentt’s episode explores his turbulent life and out of the ring.

You can connect with Michael via his website, Instagram or Twitter.

Listen to Episode 9 Below:


In This Episode, We Talk About

  • His early boxing wins and losses and how he left the sport

  • Michael’s first memory of boxing when he was 3 or 4 years old and how it foreshadowed his future work in movies (Ali in particular). 

  • How he got his start in Hollywood after working as a writer and journalist

  • Why Michael thinks he is the luckiest man on earth

  • His tumultuous relationship with his father and how he has built boundaries around that relationship now

  • What Michael would say to his childhood self - thoughts of suicide

  • The new family that he has created in LA - his acting coach, fellow actors, those that are self-reflective 

  • The one thing he wishes someone told him during the worst period of his life

  • He talks about a very important conversation he had with Jerry Jones after his first knockout

  • How he quickly became one of Christina’s heroes. He noticed the miracles and was able to receive them.

  • How being a highschool dropout did not stop him from being a voracious reader and lifelong learner. 

  • How Michael has approached growth and self-development 

  • Christina’s hopes for a memoir of Michael’s life - who does Michael think will play him in the movie?

  • The Observer Effect and the Hero’s journey

  • What is next for Michael - upcoming TV project that he has been asked to be a co-writer on

  • The idea that when the hero’s journey ends, the artists’ journey begins

  • One thing Michael’s wishes someone told him on the worst time of my life - “you have to have mentors who believe in you to reach out to”

  • Michael’s advice to others - “Take what you learn and go out there and conquer the damn world. Because that’s what it’s about.” 

  • And so much more!

Things We Mention In This Episode


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NOTE: Please note, this episode contains mention and talk of suicide. Please take good care of yourself if this topic is triggering or leaves you feeling extra tender. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, support is available 24/7 through the Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, and more resources are listed below.