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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    MMA Fight Between Athletes with Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy Sparks Controversy

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    Garrett Holeve has Down Syndrome. David Steffan has mild Cerebral Palsy. On August 3rd, they will meet in the cage for an amateur MMA fight at the Seminole Immokalee Casino in Immokalee, Florida.

    For Holeve, this will be the second attempt at getting a sanctioned amateur fight -- financial backers for an Oklahoma promotion threatened to pull funding for the event on which he would have had his first fight. Indeed, the Florida State Boxing Commission, under the auspices of the Association of Boxing Commissions, discouraged early plans for the fight, forcing promoters to opt for staging it on tribal land and using an independent sanctioning body.

    Kirsten Seckler, Vice President of the Special Olympics, has expressed some support for the event. "People with intellectual disabilities might read slower or learn slower than others, but they can run marathons, hold jobs, go to school, get married and have babies. One of the things we like to show is that there are no limits." Seckler did not state any concerns with the difference between MMA and the athletic events included in the Special Olympics.

    Garrett's mom also weighed in on her son's quest to be a fighter, though she seems to be somewhat unclear on the rules: "I can't change being supportive of my son just because he's going into a contest where he's not being protected by the referee or his opponent."


  2. BigEvil is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/20/2013 8:03am


     Style: Kyokushin/BJJ/Wrestling

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    This seems like a fairly bad idea. In past interviews, Holeve has not seemed to understand quite enough about what he is doing to render what I would consider to be informed consent. I don't know what the full faculties are of the other fighter, and I would be concerned about either of them being able, in the heat of battle, to understand and follow the referee's instructions. In addition to being potentially dangerous for the two fighters (more dangerous than usual I believe), it is also potentially bad for the sport. Many critics may hold it up as evidence of our community staging something close to a freak fight. I could, of course, be wrong.
  3. jitschix is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/20/2013 10:46am

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    Well, cerebral palsy is usually a physical impairment (as opposed to a cognitive/intellectual disability) with effects on gait, posture, and coordination. It can range from mild to severe.

    Likewise, mental retardation (the psychological profession now calls this "intellectual disability") can range from mild to severe effects. At the milder end, you would not need to worry that the fighter could not understand the proceedings well enough to qualify as "informed consent"... nor that they could fail to understand commands like "fight" "stop" etc. from a referee.

    I just find it unfortunate that two fighters with presumably very different disabilities are left to fight each other. I mean, they're not equivalent. They're not the same.

    But I say, kudoes to them. I can see why each guy would want to know how to fight, I can see benefits for each in terms of physical exercise, social interactions, having a goal, and feeling more normal. (I can also see problems where blows to the head may worsen pre-existing conditions, but that's true of all fighters.)
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  4. BigEvil is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/20/2013 11:16am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    [QUOTE=jitschix;2790539]Well, cerebral palsy is usually a physical impairment (as opposed to a cognitive/intellectual disability) with effects on gait, posture, and coordination. It can range from mild to severe."

    CP can include some cognitive impairments, along with the risk of seizure.

    "Likewise, mental retardation (the psychological profession now calls this "intellectual disability") can range from mild to severe effects. At the milder end, you would not need to worry that the fighter could not understand the proceedings well enough to qualify as "informed consent"... nor that they could fail to understand commands like "fight" "stop" etc. from a referee."

    True, as a general rule my concern would not obtain, but I was referring to this particular individual, who, in past interviews, has demonstrated less than total understanding of the consequences of cage fighting. Further, we really don't know how the cognitive impairments each man possesses will respond to the stress of combat. We have considerable experience now with how unimpaired fighters respond in the cage, and even they are fairly unpredictable. I don't think that people with cognitive impairments should be banned from competition, but I don't think that Holeve in particular should be allowed to compete. I don't know how CP has manifested in the other man, so he may very well be capable of fighting safely and with full informed consent.

    "I just find it unfortunate that two fighters with presumably very different disabilities are left to fight each other. I mean, they're not equivalent. They're not the same."

    I think it is unlikely that you will find an unimpaired fighter willing to have a sanctioned bout with either man. It is sad that a stigma would likely attach in the minds of many fans and fighters, but it probably would. If you win, you beat up a disabled person, and if you lose you were beaten up by a disabled person. If sanctioned bouts for the mentally impaired ever take place, they will probably have to be between two impaired opponents.

    Any bullies willing to have a bout with either guy?
  5. Rivington is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/20/2013 12:36pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Here's a feature article on the Down Syndrome fighter. He's definitely a little out of it, but apparently he's already had an exhibition fight, at an American Indian casino. He's a fairly high-functioning Down Syndrome case; some people with Down can complete college. He's not one of them, but he's not low-functioning.

    The other cat has mild CP, sufficiently mild that he can play Paralympic (not Special Olympics) soccer. From what I know of mild CP, I suspect he walks with a limp, has full use of both arms, startles easily, but is otherwise okay. People with mild CP can, through intense physical therapy and surgery, have an almost normal gait. You can see his muay thai fight on his Facebook page. He has a virtually normal gait, but can't seem to kick very high.

    Personally, I would have encouraged the kid with DS to do judo in the Special Olympics and the kid with CP to do boxing, but if they love MMA what can you do? Let 'em have their three rounds, and make sure the best ref in the world is in the cage with them.
  6. katahajime is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/20/2013 6:32pm


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    As a current special education teacher and on-again, off-again, Special Olympics Coach I don’t have any problems here. In fact, I have far more concerns with seeing someone take a dive in a match with an individual with special needs, than with a tough, but equitable MMA exhibition match.

    Garrett seems to have the personal interest, ability, and family support to do this.
  7. OwlMatt is online now

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    Posted On:
    7/21/2013 12:12am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    If these two are pretty well matched and are good enough to put on a good fight, and if we're going to treat them like real athletes and not children, then I'm all for it. If these guys are putting in the time and the effort, then they deserve it.

    That said, I can't help fearing that this is going to turn into either a freak show or an exploitative feel-good story about letting the retards play a down. Maybe my time working in special education has made me cynical, but I think this could be a very bad thing if it's not handled right.
  8. Hertzyscowicz is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/22/2013 2:00am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I suspect part of the problem here is that people are making this about Down Syndrome and CP. Just like OwlMatt said, treat them like athletes, not like children.
  9. Diesel_tke is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/22/2013 12:18pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I wouldn't have any problem with the guy with CP doing as long as he is mentally competent.

    The guy with Down Syndrome, no way. The article says he is functioning on the level of a 12 year old. He can't even make change at a grocery store. He probably couldn't hold a normal job. I don't see how he could fully understand enough to consent to a fight. Looks similar to a child going into an MMA fight, which I also don't agree with. The article also says that he is looking to get a UFC contract. That shows that he doesn't, fully, get it.

    Put him in judo or wrestling.
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  10. Tranquil Suit is online now
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    Posted On:
    8/06/2013 11:53am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    UPDATE: Fight cancelled/stopped by state.



    http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florid...t#.UgEpYG1H549

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