The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) stands behind Garrett Holeve, a 24 year old man with Down syndrome, in his right to compete in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
Mr. Holeve has been denied his rights to an equal opportunity. Holeve has been training in the competitive sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) for four years. NDSS is teaming up with Garrett and his family along with change.org in launching a petition to allow Garrett to fight in true MMA competitions.
Many MMA trainees seek to fight in official bouts as a natural progression in the sport. Mr. Holeve is no different – he wants to progress in the sport and needs to take the next step and he has tried to take the next step. But despite being qualified to fight an opponent of equal experience and ability, the Florida Boxing Commission, through amateur sanctioning organizations, has prevented Mr. Holeve from taking that next step.
"Anything I want to do is my decision, this is my life and my choice is to fight MMA," said Holeve. "I have trained hard for years and deserve a regular MMA fight."
On August 3, 2013, Mr. Holeve was set to compete in MMA match in Immokalee, Florida, however, moments before the match, the Florida Boxing Commission issued a cease and desist order to not allow the fight to take place.
“We are concerned that Garrett is being discriminated against based on his disability, in this case Down syndrome” said Sara Hart Weir, NDSS Vice President of Advocacy and Affiliate Relations. "What Garrett is asking for is full-inclusion and full-participation in the sport of his choosing and we stand behind Garrett and his family as they fight to ensure Garrett can achieve his own hopes, dreams, and aspirations."
Mr. Holeve has taken his fight to federal court and is seeking an injunction that will allow him a true competition in the sport he loves. Disability Rights Florida, the state protection and advocacy system, is representing him in that legal action. NDSS fully supports Garrett Holeve pursuing his dream and we will fight alongside him until he is able to fight in the cage.
Read Garrett Holeve's petition here.