Disabled MMA fighters inspire

by Kirik Jenness |

April 15, 2013, two bombs were exploded during the Boston Marathon, wounding over 250, and killing three. A police officer was killed and one injured during an extended and ultimately successful effort to arrest the suspected bombers, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Rest in Peace
Krystle Campbell, 29

Rest in Peace
Martin Richard, 8

Rest in Peace
Lu Lingzi, 23

Rest in Peace
Sean Collier, 26

At least 13 people lost limbs, including newlyweds Patrick and Jessica Downes, who each lost a leg.

For those victims the road to recovery will be long, but MMA provides inspiring examples of not just being able to cope with the loss of a limb, but being better than people who are fully abled. There is no better test of a human being's physical abilities than mixed martial arts, and the fighters below prove that the lack of a limb, or limbs, can be just another challenge.

Nick Newell

Undefeated, Newell holds the XFC lightweight title, and is only moving up.

“I was the only kid I knew that had one hand,” said Nick. “I didn’t know anyone else. I was just kind of thrown out there and told to go out there and just be a boy and go get dirty like everybody else. That’s what I did. I’m determined to succeed. I’m not going to let anything stop me from getting to where I want to go.”

“A lot of people ask me what it’s like fighting with one hand. I’m like, what’s it like fighting with two hands? I just don’t know. This is natural and its how I’ve always been and just like anyone else who plays sports. It just so happens that I’m good at one.”

Below Newell teaches Dakota how to tie his shoes.

Keith Miner

Rumble at the Rodeo welterweight champion Miner is the pioneer, becoming the first amputee to fight in MMA professionally, in 2008. Miner lost his right hand in 2000 in a wood chipper accident, and fights with a specially approved glove.

"You should fight, you totally should," said his wife during an early discussion about competing in MMA. "Because you will inspire so many people. You will inspire me. You will inspire everyone who sees you just get up every day and doing something with your life, and not sitting, and being sad for yourself that you lost your hand."

Fighting with one arm is one thing, but what about one leg. What happens if you are a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest?

The answer is, you can be a champion.

Matt Betzold

World Fighting Federation bantamweight champion Betzold was given poisoned candy when he was 6 years old, and doctors had to amputate his left leg below the knee. Betzold wears a prosthetic leg, but takes it off when he competes.

"Some people may say I'm disabled, but I don't look at it like that" says Betzold. "I just have a disability."

 And loss of a leg is not the end of what can be overcome.

Kyle Maynard

Maynard is a quadruple congenital amputee, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro unaided, went 35-16 in HS wrestling, wrote the New York Times best seller 'No Excuses' at 50 words per minute, and among countless other achievements, competed in MMA.

Maynard lost the fight, against an opponent who circled and jabbed, refusing to fully engage. Why?

Here's why. I had the honor of supervising a NAGA in 2005 that Maynard competed in. The man is a beast on the mats.

These fighters not only overcame disabilities, they are champions. They do not just inspire us because they can fight back and lead normal lives, they inspire because they can fight back and become champions.

The next time you are on the mats, and you get a sore elbow, or a sore knee, well, as Lyle Maynard's HS coach used to tell the team - "I bet Kyle Maynard wishes he had a sore knee."

Or maybe he doesn't.

In an ESPN piece on What I Wish I Knew in High School, Maynard offers advice for each of us.

"The biggest thing was, what I needed to do was learn to accept myself. I wish I would have known more about the fact that my confidence shouldn't stem from other people's perceptions of me. It shouldn't be based on the fact of how other people looked at me. It should be totally based on the way at which I look at myself.

"If someone's going to look at me and cast doubt, if someone's going to place their limitations on me, if someone's going to go and say something negative me, then it's almost like I feel sorry for them - it's their reality, not mine.

"The biggest thing we can do to increase our own state of confidence is take a second and learn about someone else's map of reality. And understand that we alone are responsible for our own state."

We all have something missing. It is part of the human condition. The legendary Renzo Gracie spoke with 60 Minutes in 2008, and discussed having his arm dislocated by Kazushi Sakuraba.

60 Minutes: He twisted your am completely inside out?

Renzo Gracie: Yes

60 min: I see the arm, but i don't see it on your face.

RG: To be honest, i really even enjoyed that moment. Because i had plenty consciousness of what was going on. And I didn't give up. I saw the ligaments going, I heard one by one going away. And I embraced that for a punishiment of the mistake i made.

60 min: But your arm is busted, fight's over. Why didn't you tap?

RG: because I really believed that I could keep fighting even without the arm.

Mixed martial arts is meaningless without meaning. It is just entertainment. But MMA holds deep lessons, hard earned, that you can, that you must bring into life. Among them is fact that we each have shortcomings, we each have disabilities, and the only thing that matters is in end is believing, and all the hard work that believing demands.


tags: video   Kyle Maynard   Nick Newell   Keith Miner   Matt Betzold   

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Recent Comments »

RowdyYates site profile image  

4/30/13 9:11 AM by RowdyYates

There are some inspiring stories on this thread, its cool to see what guys like Newell ans Humby have overcome to get where they are.Not to play favorites but the thing is those guys were born that way, that is all they have ever known. The thing that makes Keith's story inspiring is what he has overcome in the short amount of time he has been 1 handed. Imagine being about to leave for college on a basketball scholarship when you get sucked into an industrial wood chipper, lose your dominant hand, and have your right shoulder basically crushed and tearing ligaments and tendons in your back, ribs, etc trying to pull out of it. I've been with him when he went to the chiropractor and that dudes upper body is a mess. Im not sure of Nick has similar issues but most of the time the only way Keith can get a fight is if he takes it on short notice, I think 7 out of his 9 fights were on less than 2 weeks notice.

spartancs site profile image  

4/30/13 3:59 AM by spartancs

We know Matt and his family pretty well.  I'm not the type of guy to pry into stuff like this but I've heard the story and  if I remember correctly, he got a blood clot in his leg while he was in a coma in the hospital.  Six year old kid ate some candy and woke up several days later in the hospital missing a leg.  He was a small kid with 1 1/2 legs and he got tired of taking shit from assholes at school and decided he was going to be a fighter. Matt is a world champion grappler and a pro MMA fighter.  The guy is a true inspiration, chasing his dream.  Guys like John Moraga dodged him on the local MMA circuit because they knew he'd beat them and now Matt has to watch them on the big show.  UFC needs to call him up.  Just because he lost half his leg doesn't mean he doesn't deserve a shot.  He has the credentials, he's not a looking for any favors.

HexRei site profile image  

4/26/13 11:36 AM by HexRei

I'm not a medical professional, just a guy with some 200 level biology courses and a search engine, but some poisonous mushrooms are dangerous because they contain ergotamine, which causes vasoconstriction, i.e. the blood vessels close up preventing blood flow to extremities. The tissues then die, meaning whole limbs can be lost, and if they aren't amputated, gangrene can set in and then the victim is really screwed.

CindyO site profile image  

4/26/13 11:07 AM by CindyO

How does ingesting poisonous mushrooms cause you to lose a leg?   Cindy

Blackmore site profile image  

4/26/13 10:30 AM by Blackmore

Attack kids coz he Traine UFC and post in the UG about it

Blackmore site profile image  

4/26/13 10:29 AM by Blackmore

A good guy like this disabled..and scumbags like Pete Gayhammer

Kirik site profile image  

4/26/13 8:50 AM by Kirik


MMA Lives Here site profile image  

4/26/13 8:42 AM by MMA Lives Here


Tree Hugger site profile image  

4/26/13 8:20 AM by Tree Hugger

That first video was very awesome. I always enjoy encouraging stories like that. Baxter Humby "the one arm bandit" Is not a MMA fighter but a Champion Kickboxer who has fought some of the best in the world like John wayne parr is a another great example. If a blue name could please post http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5e30ShQjkw

DiscipleDojo site profile image  

4/25/13 10:45 PM by DiscipleDojo

Thank Nick Newell video is so sweet. Imagine how cool that kid will feel growing up; if kids pick on him or make fun of him for having a little arm, he can always remember Nick and be encouraged by his example. So awesome.