Interview with retired mixed martial artist turned psychedelic integration coach for athletes, Ian McCall, who spoke on the Sports and Psychedelics panel at the Wonderland conference in Miami.
Former UFC star, Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall, is no stranger to pain. “I went from being a predator of other men in a cage in my underwear,” he says of his career. Now, he considers himself a protector, helping new athletes or those retired from active competition, to heal or find wholeness through psychedelics.
According to the CDC, an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year, making it one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. Studies have found that the long term effects of concussions from high-impact contact sports include everything from headaches and insomnia to severe anxiety, depression, aggression, and suicidal ideations. TBI is estimated to reach a $182 billion treatment market by 2027, according to a Data Bridge research report.
Why Is It Important For Athletes To Speak Openly About Their Psychedelic Use?
McCall says he was snorting painkillers like oxycontin and fentanyl to get through each day, while often contemplating suicide to escape the pain. “Kids want to be you. They wear your outfit or costume or jersey,” he says. “Those kids turn into grown-ups who obsess over games on Sundays. Sports have their own day of the week. You become an idol.” It’s this very influence that can be used to bring awareness to the need for more effective treatments for TBI so athletes no longer suffer in silence, often ashamed to lift the veil on the stoicism of being “a hero.”
Why Retirement Is Devastating For So Many Athletes
“Once you announce that you’re retiring, you have one last set of phone calls, one last set of interviews and ‘congratulations,’ and then it all goes away. You lose your sense of self, you lose a sense of what you’re doing. You’re left with brain damage and trauma.”
The Irony Of Big Egos In The Business Of “Ego Dissolution”
“I’ve had people steal millions, try to fight me, steal my dream property and try to sell it back to me for twice the price. I can’t get mad. We’re all people looking to heal. I’m trying to look at the greater good of what they’re doing.”
McCall mentioned that there are people in the industry who want to cash in, but don’t know anything about psychedelics, are “barely sober,” or they’ve had one mushroom trip and now want to heal the world.
“It’s not their place, they need to work on themselves more. If someone hasn’t healed, I don’t trust them. I’m not against them, I’m against the fact that they haven’t healed.”
He says his “quick and easy” way to know someone’s intentions or where they’ve at on their healing journey is to ask if they have done ayahuasca, mushrooms, ibogaine, DMT, or LSD.
Mike Tyson’s “Psychedelic Junkie” Comment
Former heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson, spoke at the Wonderland conference, saying onstage that he is a “junkie for psychedelics.”
“I thought: damn it, Mike,” says McCall, unimpressed. “Even though he said that, he has a good message. He’s a product of his environment. He has been a toy his whole life, surrounded by ‘yes men.’ He’s allowed to say that and get away with it. But you can’t let someone who has that programming just be unabated and do whatever they want, because they will do that much of the drug, constantly. Then we have a whole other set of work to do.”
The McCall Method’ Focuses On Psychedelic Integration For Athletes
McCall is working with athletes at all levels, creating opportunities for them to heal, connect (or reconnect) with themselves, and keep their egos in check. “Even if they are new athletes, it’s dealing with ego in different ways. They see other young athletes getting sponsorship, attention, and love, and yet they’ve beaten them in contests. We have to show them that it’s ego. Cultural issues run deep.
Final Post-Wonderland Conference Thoughts?
“I went to Miami kind of broken, and leaving it, I realized there are good people in the industry. I saw that there is a chance for me to flourish, finally. I’ve been trying to build other people’s dreams. I’m really grateful to be this version of myself at this point in history.”