Ben Carson, the ultra-soft spoken candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, met up Tuesday morning with someone who’s the exact opposite: mixed martial arts fighter Vitor Belfort.
Their rendezvous was at OTB Fight gym in Coconut Creek, where Belfort endorsed Carson’s presidential candidacy. They also prayed together.
Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon who lives in West Palm Beach, said he was “delighted because [Belfort] has the mind of a champion.” He said they share values of faith and personal responsibility and Belfort has the “same message that I try to get across to people.”
Doug Watts, a spokesman for Carson’s campaign, said the visit to the gym and corporate facility of Belfort and his wife Joana was to “exchange views on life and overcoming life’s challenges. They shared prayers and tips on a positive outlook on life.”
The two donned boxing gloves and got in the ring together for pictures. On Twitter, Carson described it as “a little pre-debate prep,” with Belfort, whom he described as a “great sparring partner.” The Republican candidates face off in a debate Wednesday in Boulder, Colo.
Tuesday was a big day for Carson for another reason. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows Carson in the lead nationally among Republican candidates. Carson was the choice of 26 percent of Republican primary voters. Donald Trump, who has been the leader for months, was in second place, with 22 percent. The difference is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus six percentage points.
Belfort, 37, is a former light heavyweight UFC champion, who was a Cage Rage World Light Heavyweight Champion. He is set to fight Dan Henderson in the third fight of their trilogy on Nov. 7 in Brazil.
He’s training for the upcoming fight at the Coconut Creek gym. A big fan of Carson, he invited the presidential candidate to the workout.
Recently, the news came out that Belfort failed a drug test before his title fight at UFC152. He recently left the Blackzilians, a top MMA gym in Boca Raton.
Belfort, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, isn’t a registered voter in Florida, according to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office, so he wouldn’t be able to vote for Carson in the March 15 Republican primary.
This report will be updated. Check back for more information.
Correspondent Steve Evans and assistant sports editor Teri Berg contributed to this report.