A Florida MMA Fight Between Men With Down Syndrome And Cerebral Palsy Was Canceled

While recently recording my bi-monthly contractual appearance on the FilmDrunk Frotcast to discuss the world’s most important issues of the day, including Corey Feldman’s music video for “Ascension Millenium” and this incredible 1988 Chi Phi recruitment video, Vince and the gang asked my opinion on this weekend’s eyebrow-raising story out of, where else, Florida, where a mixed martial arts match between Garrett Holeve and David Steffan was canceled because it was “unsanctioned.”

OR WAS IT??? Holeve, whose story has been told on ESPN, is an aspiring MMA fighter with Down syndrome, while Steffan has cerebral palsy, and they were both reportedly very excited about fighting each other at the Seminole Casino in Immokalee this past Saturday. However, people close to both fighters believe that the last second cancellation was nothing more than good, old-fashioned discrimination.

“He cried. It genuinely upset him,” says Mitch Holeve, Garrett’s father. “He’s worked eight weeks in a training camp, training four and a half hours a day for eight weeks getting mentally and physically prepared to do this.”

“He’s upset because he knows he’s being told he can’t fight because he has down syndrome and that hurts his feelings and that angers him” says Holeve.

A representative with the World Fighting Organization tells WINK News, “the safety of the fighters is our number one priority and he doesn’t think the decision was made on the basis of discrimination, but solely on fighter safety.”

Holeve says his son got medical clearance and show have been able to fight. “I think their decision was pretty arbitrary, discriminatory,” says Holeve.

“We have two guys with disabilities and we don’t want them to fight here. This is his life and they’re stopping him. As his dad I am just going to make sure he can do it safely and his rights are infringed upon and I’m not stopping anywhere until that happens.” (Via WINK News, H/T to Bloody Elbow)

I’m a little confused by the wording in that WINK article, and more specifically the quotes, but as a man who was raised in Florida and a product of the state’s golden education system, I’m betting that some lawmaker sitting behind his giant desk made of manatee bones closed his eyes and imagined the outraged voters sprinting to the polls to vote for some Cuban lady before declaring, “Shut it down! Let Ohio deal with the rest of the nation’s cynical scorn for this one.”

But if it is just a case of discrimination, I strongly encourage everyone involved to watch ESPN’s feature on Holeve’s desire to fight. It’s incredible.

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