Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman recently wrote a message on his social network about the recent death of his father-in-law, Vincent John Pecora, at just 70 years old; the father of Weidman's wife Marivi was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street.
The last few weeks have been very tough for my family and me as my father-in-law got hit by a car and was in critical condition fighting for his life until his body eventually gave out after five days.
Vinny, like he’s done daily for 10+ years, was crossing the street heading to our gym to say hello and show support when he realized he forgot his mask; he made a quick turn to head back to his car and got struck by a truck. Complete accident but downright tragic. For five days, he fought a battle and eventually it became too much.
Pops has been in my life since 7th grade, which happens to be the same day I met his daughter and ultimately my wife-to-be. It was my first wrestling camp, Granby camp in Virginia. I didn’t know at the time, but he would end up being a massive part of my life. Most of the offseason tournaments and camps, it was Pops that was driving us. He came to all my wrestling matches from Junior high to college. Pops never missed one of my fights as he became an integral part of my life.
If you spoke to him, there was one of 3 things you probably discussed: Vietnam, Wrestling, and Mixed Martial Arts (since I started fighting). Pops was more of a quiet guy until it was time to talk about any of these. When that time came, it could go on for hours :-). He would always ask if I was tired of him chewing my ears off and my response was always no and never. Pops would tell me how much he appreciated me listening and paying attention to him. He would say to me, and others, that I always listened to him when it came to his stories from an early age. I was proud of that.
Vinny came off as very rough around the edges and maybe even a little scary :-), but upon meeting him and talking to him, he would become your biggest fan. Pops had his highs and lows in his life, and even in his lowest, he never projected that or showed any jealousy towards anyone. He wanted the best for people in life although he did view the youth as the future hence why he gravitated to youth wrestling. He loved wrestling because of the life values and lessons it instilled in kids. He was a man who lived and died by his word. If he told you something to your face, that is how he felt. There was zero talking behind people's backs. I loved that. He was the epitome of a “straight shooter”.
I watched him transform over the years from the hardest, toughest guy I knew to the soft-hearted grandpa. I could have never imagined this as I grew up. His grandkids could do anything under the sun, even border on disrespect, and he would still love them and give a big smile.
The silver lining of his passing to me is that he was about to walk into his favorite place on earth, Longos and Weidman MMA. Pops loved everyone in that gym and was everyone's biggest fan, from the coaches to the amateurs and the pros.
The thing Pops was most passionate about was helping out wrestlers and feeling like he was making a difference which is why we are setting up the Vincent j. Pecora Jr. Wrestling Scholarship foundation. This foundation will help out wrestlers every year as well as carrying his legacy forward. He would be so proud of this. If you could donate even a little, it would be very much appreciated. The link to donate https://www.gofundme.com/.../vincent-pecora-jr-memorial
As noted to keep his memory alive, the Vincent J. Pecora Jr. Scholarship Foundation has been established to continue to support young wrestlers in their pursuit of higher education. You can contribute here.