Tommy Strydom has picked a heck of a way to make a living.
At BKFC 43 on May 19, he improved to 2-0 as a member of the stacked BKFC featherweight division. He balances his passion for fighting with a career in farming.
Strydom is one of about 26,000 South Africans currently working on farms across the United States on a H-2A agricultural visa. He works with cattle and on fields that grow beans and corn, among other grains, on a farm in Nebraska a few hours away from Omaha, where his most recent BKFC victory took place.
Farm work begins no later than 6 a.m., and ends no earlier than 9 p.m., so Strydom wakes up at 3 o’clock each morning to train.
“I don’t want to talk bad about my country, but it’s become very hard to get work and build a better future in South Africa, that’s exactly why I came here – to build a better future for my family,” Strydom says.
Strydom says the countless hours of hard labor – both on the farm and in the gym – paid off when he knocked out Josh Krejci at BKFC 43.
Many young athletes dream of the day that they can be a fulltime fighter, and have combat become their sole source of income.
Strydom, a former standout amateur kickboxer in Africa, is not one of those fighters.
“Farming is a part of my life – I enjoy it, and it keeps me busy,” he says. “But, at the same time, fighting has been my whole life since I was very young, and it’s my dream to win a professional championship. That’s my biggest goal right now as an athlete, and I’m happy to balance that with farming.”