Source: Leo Frincu
Perhaps most famously known for his coaching of female MMA superstar Ronda Rousey, Leo Frincu is more than a personal trainer—he’s a high performance mentality coach (more on that later). The former six-time Romanian wrestling champion and four-time European champion overcame the constraints of communist Romania to become a successful entrepreneur in America, translating his own mental tenacity and self-drive to training champions.
Frincu was introduced to the sport of wrestling as a little boy, as an outlet for his frustrations. He realized at a very young age that his ticket out of the country was to become a world champion. As he grew in talent, there was increased responsibility and more pressure to perform well, which he wanted to escape.
When the opportunity came to leave, he didn’t think twice. Selling everything he had, Frincu eventually bought a roundtrip plane ticket to Lost Angeles, with $10 in his pocket and speaking a handful of words in English. His first job was washing dishes.
A New Beginning Starts With a Dream
“It was hard to forget who I was—world champion, V.I.P athlete from Romania—and start over. I took one day at a time. “The only way people can grow is to be satisfied," he said in an interview. "I would do everything I could to be the best of what I do, whether it’s washing dishes or wrestling. By being happy, I am accepting the reality. By being a dishwasher, I accepted that, I never thought I was too good for that, and that allowed me to grow.”
While dishwashing, he began to teach himself English, picking up every newspaper, dictionary, and books. In a matter of months, he had learned enough of the language to be promoted to waiter. From there, he pondered what he could see himself doing 10 years from now.
While wrestling kept him grounded, in good shape and provided a social outlet, he realized it wouldn’t be his career. “Being a wrestling coach wouldn’t give me the financial freedom I was looking for, so I looked for other opportunities in fitness. I found opportunity as fitness trainer. First time, in many years that I could see myself still doing this in 10 years.”
Three-and-a-half years later, Frincu accomplished his next goal: Buy his own business and own his own gym.