Garrett Holeve is driven and steadfast. He is determined to live out his dream as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter, because as he says, that is what he is. The 24-year-old has Down syndrome, but his fellow fighters are not his toughest opponents. It is the people outside of the ring who are trying to stop him from fighting.
Armed with a lawyer and the support of family members and fans, Holeve took on the Florida State Boxing Commission and other organizations that stood in his way of commencing his first fight. A 2013 bout against David Steffan, a Special Olympian with cerebral palsy, was halted minutes before the opening bell, by the boxing commission.
Holeve’s father, Mitch, claimed that ignorance led to a cease-and-desist letter that has prevented his son from competing in sanctioned events. With multiple soft-exhibition events under his belt, Holeve, who goes by the name G-Money, has spent four years training at the American Top Team martial-arts academy in Weston, Florida. Although his father acknowledged that Garrett has a slower reaction time than most fighters, he said he believes it’s all about the matchup.
In response to critics who label Mitch Holeve irresponsible for allowing his son to fight, the dad replied, “They’ve never met my son. If they were in my shoes, and they did anything different, then I think they’d have to do deal with the consequences of not doing what he loves to do.”
The National Down Syndrome Society also has Holeve’s back. Mark Priceman says, “Garrett has the same rights that everyone else does. It doesn’t matter that he has Down syndrome. If he is a fighter, he is a fighter.”
Despite the fight outside of the ring, G-Money Garrett and David “Cerebral Assassin” Steffan were finally given the opportunity to face off against each other a year later in a sanctioned fight sponsored by Fighting For Autism. G-Money won by submission after he caught Steffan in a rear-naked choke, forcing a tap-out. This win puts G’s amateur record at 1-0.
The emotional footage of his story and win show exactly what not giving up on your dreams feels like. Watch and be inspired.
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