How UFC President Dana White Became Mark Wahlberg’s Roommate
When UFC president Dana White left Boston in 1995, it wasn’t by choice.
Many people mistakenly believe that it was Whitey Bulger who directly ran the current face of the world’s most powerful mixed martial arts organization out of town, but it was actually his confidant Kevin Weeks. As White recalled during his recent trip to Boston for UFC Fight Night 81, he was training clients at his South Boston boxing gym when the infamous mobster stopped by for a visit.
“We walk outside and he says, ‘Do you know who I am?’ I said, ‘No.’ And it’s Kevin Weeks,” White said.
Weeks was looking for a few thousand dollars in protection money, however, White–who moved to the city when he was 17-years-old–refused to pay up.
After almost a decade in New England and trouble brewing in Southie, the fight aficionado realized that it was time to return to Las Vegas, where he spent most of his childhood.
“At the end of the day, if you lived in Southie at the time, you had to deal with that s–t,” White said. “I literally picked up a phone and called Delta, got a ticket, and went back to Vegas.”
Despite nearly getting into a confrontation with the notorious mobster, the impromptu trip to the west coast ended up being a blessing in disguise.
Back in Las Vegas, White was able to reconnect with his longtime friend Lorenzo Fertitta, laying the groundwork for them to buy the UFC in 2001. The move also gave White an opportunity to work with Mark Wahlberg, who was preparing for a boxing movie at the time.
Bo Cleary, a mutual friend and trainer from Boston, told Wahlberg that he should use White as his boxing coach, which led to them eventually moving in together to train.
“Right when I went back, I probably moved in with Wahlberg in ’96 or ’97 in L.A.,” White said. “He had just got done filming Boogie Nights and I was literally with him through all the Boogie Nights s–t. I saw Boogie Nights more times before the movie came out than any other movie I had ever seen.”
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“I lived with Wahlberg for probably five months,” White added. “He was a great roommate, I had a blast.”
The UFC president is still impressed with Wahlberg’s athleticism and dedication to fitness, which he’s shown off in recent years in movies like the Micky Ward biopic The Fighter.
“Wahlberg is a good athlete,” White said. “The house that we lived in when I was with him was a house that he rented. Now he’s got this house, he’s got like a real Celtics basketball court in his backyard. He’s got a whole boxing gym. It’s pretty cool.”
Today, White and Wahlberg are still good friends and frequently keep in touch.
Not only has the actor been spotted cage side from time to time, but fighters like former champion Ronda Rousey have also been popping into his movies. Rousey, who Wahlberg has equated to NBA great Michael Jordan, is set to appear with him in the upcoming film Mile 22.
If all that wasn’t enough, White and Wahlberg share the same agent as well.
“Now our paths cross again,” White said. “We’re both represented by Ari [Emanuel].”
And to think, this friendship between two avid Patriots fans might have never happened if it wasn’t for White’s little run-in with Weeks all those years ago.
“We’ve been friends ever since,” White said.