Dana White's amazing rise, from getting expelled at school and quitting job as a bellboy to becoming £365m UFC chief

AS he looks at his kingdom, Dana White will probably reminisce on how far he has come.

The UFC chief has amassed a £365million fortune from MMA – after making a vow to make it big in the fight game as he walked out on his job as a bellboy at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

He set up boxing classes and appeared to be thriving, which drew the attention of villain Whitey Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang who demanded a slice of his business.

White, now 52, also feared for his life when he was jumped by a gang of thugs leaving a bar – who battered him so badly he suffered hearing loss and nerve damage that resulted in Meniere's disease – "it's like vertigo on steroids," as he once described.

But nothing deterred the driven businessman from growing the UFC into a globally popular multi-billion pound enterprise.

Not even the nuns who kicked him out of catholic school after he made their lives a nuisance…


White, born to June and Dana Sr in Massachusetts, was raised primarily by his mother and her family for the majority of his childhood.

They moved to Las Vegas, where he attended strict catholic school Bishop Gorman.

It was there he met Lorenzo Fertitta, who he would later launch the UFC with.

But White was anything but the model student. In fact, he was expelled from the school for being a persistent menace to the nuns that taught there.

After he was expelled, he returned to the East Coast to finish his education.

Although he graduated from Hermon High School in Maine, New England – White dropped out of two separate colleges in his first year.

His aspirations were not in academia, but to rule the world of boxing.


After leaving college, White scored a job as a bellboy at the five-star Boston Harbor Hotel at 19.

However, he knew he wasn't destined to work in the leisure and tourism business – and left that job after having an epiphany.

White revealed: "I was standing in the lobby one day, and thought, 'what the hell am I doing here?'

"So I walked out the front door and one of my good friends, who is still one of my good friends, the doorman, said 'What are you doing?'

"I said 'I'm quitting, I want to be in the fight business', he said 'that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life'.

"I just thought 'What's the worst thing that could happen if you try?'

"The day I walked out of that hotel, if it doesn't work out I can go and be a bellman again whenever I want to.

"I always knew what I wanted to do and every day when I woke up I worked towards that goal. I didn't even have a car, I had a mountain bike, I rode everywhere in town."


At 21, White was beaten within an inch of his life by a gang of youths outside a popular Boston hotspot.

"These dudes beat the living s*** out me for a good 20 minutes… until the police came," he explained.

"At one point, I remember I was on one knee and this f****** guy must have punched me in this ear a thousand times.

"I was getting kicked and hit from all kinds of directions. The guys were from Charlestown, I’m lucky I didn’t get stabbed. I’m lucky I just got the s*** beat out of me."

After the attack, White suffered with Meniere's disease – where sufferers can feel sick through vertigo-like symptoms for hours.

Years later, White would have his condition cured through stem cell treatment at a German clinic.


Determined White sought the help of former Golden Gloves champion Peter Welch to learn the craft of boxing.

And he got valuable experience as a trainer, a cornerman, a promoter and a manager, before setting up a business of his own in Boston.

What started off as a simple boxercise class became a cash-making success and White began earning dollar.

That fact didn't escape local gangster Whitey Bulger, the famous boss of the Winter Hill Gang who featured on theFBI's Ten Most Wanted List and was played by Johnny Depp in the Hollywood movie Black Mass.

Bulger sent his goon Kevin Weeks to White's gym who demanded money orthere will be hell to pay.

"It was like $2,500, which was like $25,000 to me back then, and said 'You owe us money'", White revealed to Fox Sports.

"It was actually a guy named Kevin Weeks, who if you saw the trial he's Whitey's right-hand man.

"Basically said I owed him some money, and I didn't pay him. This went on for a while and one day I was at my place and I got a call and they said 'you owe us the money tomorrow by 1 o'clock'.

"I literally hung up the phone, picked up the phone and called and bought a ticket to Vegas."


After fleeing for his safety, White returned to his old stomping ground – Las Vegas – leaving everything behind.

As fate would have it, he bumped into his old school pal Fertitta at a wedding and soon began training his friend, who wanted to box.

Desperate still to break into the boxing world, White showed up at Floyd Mayweather's gym as a wannabe manager and trainer.

Remarkably, he even tried his hand at becoming a fashion designer – launching boxing apparel brand Bullenbeiser, which was worn by the 'Money Man'.

He lived with Hollywood A-lister Mark Wahlberg for three months and helped him get into shape for a projected movie about Vinnie Curto, which was eventually shelved after it lost funding.

On the side, White managed UFC fighters Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, which is where he seized his chance when an opportunity presented itself.


In the early 2000s, the UFC wasn't the sporting juggernaut it is today.

Unable to gain widespread appeal, it was plunged into financial trouble and White got wind that co-creator Bob Meyrowitz was willing to sell it for £1.5million.

White called up his high-flying pal Fertitta, who had taken over the Station Casinos business from his father with his brother Frank and pitched an idea to them.

He said: "I'd been to a [UFC] event, and I was looking around and thinking 'imagine if they did this, and imagine if they did that. This thing could actually be really big'.

"[So] I called [the Fertittas] and I said 'I think the UFC's in trouble. And I think we can buy it. I think we should do this.'"

In 2001, they formed Zuffa LLC and bought the UFC. White was installed as president. The dynasty had begun.

Since that day, White has turned MMA into the fastest growing sport in the world – launching the careers of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

In 2016, UFC's parent company Zuffa were sold to a group led by entertainment talent agency William Morris Endeavor for £3billion.

The Fertittas had gone, but White remained at the helm.

You can't say that he didn't earn it.

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