As a boy growing up in Lynnwood, Randy Couture dreamed of one day becoming a world-class athlete.
It was a dream that would come true, though not in the sport he imagined. Because although his early ambition was to be an Olympic skier, Couture took up wrestling as a youngster and it led him to become, years later, one of the pre-eminent figures in the burgeoning sport of mixed martial arts.
Couture went on to win three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight titles, three UFC light heavyweight titles, and appeared in 16 UFC title fights. He is truly one of the sport’s all-time superstars, and on Wednesday night he will add to his list of career accomplishments when he is inducted into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame.
“I’m honored,” said the 53-year-old Couture, speaking by telephone last week. “I spent (the first) 19 years of my life in Lynnwood and Snohomish County. My mother and grandmother grew up in the town of Snohomish, so my family roots go way back there.”
A 1981 graduate of Lynnwood High School, Couture spent six years in the U.S. Army, where he continued to wrestle. He went on to wrestle four years at Oklahoma State University and was an alternate on the 1988 U.S. Olympic team before becoming an assistant wrestling coach at Oregon State, where he worked for seven years.
He started in MMA in 1997 and continued until 2011, and he attributes his remarkable success “to the sport of wresting. … I found my place and my niche, and it was something that I was passionate about. And that passion carried me down the road through the Army, through college and through my 14-year career as a mixed martial arts fighter.”
These days he keeps busy with an acting career that includes appearances in three “The Expendables” movies. He also owns an MMA training center in Las Vegas and has a clothing line, but is mostly “focused on getting better acting jobs. And obviously being involved in ‘The Expendables’ made that easier and opened some doors.”
But his roots remain in Snohomish County. “That’s where it all started for me,” Couture said, “so to be recognized and to be put in the Hall of Fame where I grew up is pretty cool.”
Wednesday night’s Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet will be held at Xfinity Arena’s Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Everett.
The other inductees include basketball player Kayla Burt of Arlington, rower Bob Cummins of Everett, sailor Karen Thorndike of Snohomish, golfer Jack Westland of Everett (deceased), basketball coach Keith Kingsbury of Edmonds Community College, radio/television broadcaster Bill O’Mara of Everett (deceased), and the 1955 Darrington High School boys basketball team and the 1981 Meadowdale High School girls soccer team, both state champions.
This year’s class of inductees will raise the Hall of Fame totals to 40 athletes, 17 coaches, seven contributors (including executives and media), and 11 teams.
The keynote speaker will be Seattle radio/TV broadcaster Jen Mueller, who will also sign copies of her book “Talk Sporty to Me: Thinking Outside the Box Scores” before and after the banquet.