Father's death proved daunting challenge

JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Rich Franklin vividly recalls the night his life was turned upside down.

"It was January 8th. I received a call saying my father had suffered a heart attack," recounted the 33-year-old.

"When we got that call, I thought I was going to drive down to the hospital and see my father laying there and say 'Dad, I told you, we gotta get on the nutrition, you gotta excercise more.' But the heart attack was so massive, they couldn't bring him back."

The incident floored Franklin.

"I was completely dumbfounded by the whole thing," he said.

"Being the eldest son, I was in charge of taking care of my father's estate. I quickly realized not only do you have to handle the grieving of the death, but there's also a business side of a person's death.

"It's really a difficult thing to deal with when you're mourning and you get a phone call about a hospital bill on the same day your dad passed away.

"There were several times I hung up on people because I couldn't believe they were calling me."

Franklin and his 56-year-old father Richard Sr. were close, though the elder Franklin questioned his son's decision to leave a secure teaching career for the cage.

"I went to school to be a teacher and I remember when I told my dad I was going to quit my job teaching," said Franklin, who takes on Travis Lutter at UFC 83 here in Montreal.

"I remember him saying, 'You're going to throw away all this education.' I even earned my Masters degree.

"I thought I was going to be teaching for the rest of my life, but I put myself in a situation where I could pursue this dream and my father thought I was insane at first."

But Franklin quickly proved he could earn more in a year as fighter -- through purses and endorsements -- than in a decade in the classroom.

"After things worked out the way they worked out, he said, 'I'm really proud of the choices you've made,' " recalled Franklin, sporting a black eye from training.


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