T Nation

Down Syndrome Mixed Martial Artist

I stumbled on this article today and am really interested in other members’ opinions here. Essentially, Garret trains at an American Top Team gym. He WANTS to fight.

We’ve all had debates about whether this or that character shouldn’t fight because of one or another safety/psychological/age/gender/etc issue.

I still haven’t decided what my opinion is. But Garret’s story is as vexing to me as it is inspirational. What do you think?

This is his Youtube Channel if you want to check out his rolling and sparring skills.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsGIDRojzPke6g3D9KQmrYA?feature=plcp

Oh Fuck.

Stomach:No, no, no!

Brain: it depends. He should definitely be allowed to fight other team trisomy guys.
And probably yes.

It’s an interesting philosophical question.
Should a women compete with guys?
Should a blind guy be allowed to compete in archery?
etc

This is such a difficult question.

I think what it boils down to is capacity - does Garrett have the capacity to fully understand all of the risks and implications of competing? If yes, then I suppose he should be allowed to compete, though I wouldn’t feel comfortable watching it.

Physically there are quite a lot of orthopaedic issues associated with Down’s, as well as an increased incidence of congenital heart defects, but so long as he doesn’t have anything overwhelming I don’t think that should stop him competing - I can’t imagine an otherwise healthy person being banned from MMA if they had scoliosis for example or short stature (both associated with Down’s).

So I’d say this really hinges on the mental aspect and if he truly has capacity to make the decision to compete. I don’t think the physical side is as important.

As long as he is able to appreciate the risks, and fundamentally is equally matched, then I see no problem. To me, it depends on his support group. A good coach who has educated himself on this kid’s particular needs, and who knows his limitations and his strengths, should be able to guide him and provide competition for him.

A few years ago, I would have been dead against it. To me, I used to be against women boxing. Then we had some join the gym, and suddenly being surrounded by smart, attractive women who were very capable athletes and courageous fighters made me realise that as with anyone else, as long as they were well looked after and developed by a good coach, and well matched with equal opponents, there was no reason they shouldn’t compete. Same principles apply for this guy. With the right coaches, team mates, and opposition, why the hell not. Good on him for taking control of his situation.

Good luck finding anyone willing to get in the cage with him.

It’s awesome to see he has a passion for something and enjoys training.

Best of luck to him.

Not just no, but fuck no.

My first thought was “I hope to hell he has been appropriately screened for atlanto-axial joint instability.” Furo was rather understating the situation when he talked about ortho and cardiac considerations. Generally speaking a trisomy 21 patient is at high risk to have ligamentous laxity(the usual scare here is the previous mentioned AAI, but increased risk of other joints subluxating or dislocating is real), muscle hypotonia, cardiac defects, and respiratory defects.

Google turned up this in the AANA Journal, it does a good job of reviewing all the ways normal anestesia and surgery can pose a greater risk for a Trisomy 21 patient:

https://www.aana.com/newsandjournal/Documents/p103-107.pdf

Even if AAI has been ruled out, I am still thinking that he would be facing greater than normal risks/consequences. Respiratory and cardiac considerations indicate being unconscious is more risky. Add hypotonia and an admittedly reduced “reaction time” and I see a young man who is more likely to get hit, likely to be injured more severely from blows and joint locks, and at a greater risk for complications from said injuries.

I don’t know to what extent he can legally make his own decisions about these risks(informed consent is sketchy enough without reduced mental status being a question). My normal way of thinking is that as long as the patient knows, and they are only risking/hurting themselves, I am good with it. In this case I am not sure about consent and the liability attached if he is hurt. I am venturing out of my lane, but I have a hard time thinking that any amateur governing body would sanction him for competition or seeing a physician clear him.

Again, I am not a subject matter expert in traumatic injury or Trisomy 21. My education with regards to the condition has dealt almost completely with the increased risks/pathophysiologies of it. Garret’s story is inspirational. I hope he continues to train. I feel he should be supported, but I would need to hear from some individuals with some pretty relevent clinical experience, and some expensive letters after their names to convince me that letting him fight in a real, sanctioned, match is support and not undue risk.

[quote]DarkNinjaa wrote:
It’s awesome to see he has a passion for something and enjoys training.

Best of luck to him.[/quote]

In spite of all I wrote above, I would cheer my head off at one of his exhibition matches.

Regards,

Robert A

Edited: Because I cannot spell.

Man. There is a point when parents cross the line of trying to have no limitations on their kids and plain stupidity. These parents are just stupid.

[quote]Robert A wrote:
Furo was rather understating the situation when he talked about ortho and cardiac considerations. [/quote]

I am aware that there is an enormous level of variation within Down’s syndrome and that while some sufferers are greatly affected, others are much less so. Some have absolutely no cardiac abnormalities for example. My point, though I didn’t word it well, was that he should be screened for associated pathologies and providing that he doesn’t suffer from anything overwhelming then the physical aspect shouldn’t hold him back.

My concern was more for the mental aspect and whether he has capacity to give consent. As you have stated that would be very difficult to determine though.

I’m no expert on the matter but I’m not completely uninformed either - I do have extensive experience working with children with Down’s syndrome, my post wasn’t pure internet speculation.

My post was pure internet speculation. If there are the kind of risks associated with this that those better informed than me are suggesting, then I would be inclined to reconsider my original comment. That said, we all have to undergo medicals to get our licenses, and if he is able to pass the criteria that need to be met for a healthy adult - i have no idea if that is possible, I had assumed it was - then I see no reason in principle why he shouldn’t compete.

I’ve read what you guys wrote concerning greater health risks.
And you are right.

In spite of that, I’ve reached the conclusion that he should definitely be allowed to fight Cain Velasquez, -assuming, of course, the UFC brings him in and he fattens himself up to heavyweight. (Curiously enough, having Dana W. employ the guy is probably the most realistic part; as along as there’s enough media attention behind, he’d even let Jones-Emelianenko take place beforehand coughUFC 157cough )

If a free man cannot fight his fellow man out of free will under honourable conditions - what says this about society?
Would not everyone here jump at the possibility of fighting Fedor in his prime - even though the consequences would be realistically more severe than for this guy getting his feet wet in some small MMA bout?

He who interferes is one who shouts “Retard!”, choking out more spirit and life out of sould then the russian’s mitts ever could.

p.s. I think I’ll upload some dramatic lol animal later to counter my post’s oozing pathos.
Is there a drama-lama?

Is there really much of a difference between a normal persons broken nose and a down syndrome broken nose? What about Muhammed Ali’s mental capacity now? Is it that much different then some mentally ill patients. I say if you don’t like the results of the sport then stop the sport but don’t limit a full fledged adult from something other adults can’t do if he has the capacity to do it. If your going to let him live then let him live a full life. Otherwise he’s just a cage domesticated animal.

This does not mean he has to go out and fight the Champ tomorrow but he can come up through the ranks, maybe plan his fights more accordingly if he’s ready for the next step then let him go.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
Is there really much of a difference between a normal persons broken nose and a down syndrome broken nose? What about Muhammed Ali’s mental capacity now? Is it that much different then some mentally ill patients. I say if you don’t like the results of the sport then stop the sport but don’t limit a full fledged adult from something other adults can’t do if he has the capacity to do it. If your going to let him live then let him live a full life. Otherwise he’s just a cage domesticated animal.

This does not mean he has to go out and fight the Champ tomorrow but he can come up through the ranks, maybe plan his fights more accordingly if he’s ready for the next step then let him go.[/quote]

I agree with this, so long as he is screened for any major complications.

He should be treated in the same way as any other fighter provided he has been shown to have capacity to give consent and he should be screened (in the same way ‘healthy’ fighters can be screened for brain aneurysms etc) and if its all good he should be able to compete.

He has had a raw enough deal in life, it would be a huge shame to forbid him from being able to follow his passion (especially when that passion is perfectly legal for all of his peers).

[quote]furo wrote:

[quote]Robert A wrote:
Furo was rather understating the situation when he talked about ortho and cardiac considerations. [/quote]

I am aware that there is an enormous level of variation within Down’s syndrome and that while some sufferers are greatly affected, others are much less so. Some have absolutely no cardiac abnormalities for example. My point, though I didn’t word it well, was that he should be screened for associated pathologies and providing that he doesn’t suffer from anything overwhelming then the physical aspect shouldn’t hold him back.

My concern was more for the mental aspect and whether he has capacity to give consent. As you have stated that would be very difficult to determine though.

I’m no expert on the matter but I’m not completely uninformed either - I do have extensive experience working with children with Down’s syndrome, my post wasn’t pure internet speculation.

[/quote]

furo,

My statement was intended to give you credit, not admonishment. I was not trying to accuse you of speaking out of your lane, or diminish your post.

In General:
As I stated above, I also have questions about the legal ability of a Down’s patient/athlete from making informed decisions about risk. I understand that there is a spectrum of IQ’s and cognitive abilities among individuals with Trisomy 21, but from a medical/legal perspective taking consent solely from someone designated “mentally retarded” can open you up for lawsuits.

I am not sure if the young man in question can sign legally binding contracts. If not, than as a legal matter he cannot make an informed choice about the risks of competing. Even if his parents would allow him to fight in a full, sanctioned, event, I don’t think the sanctioning body would want the risk.

Regards,

Robert A

[quote]Robert A wrote:

furo,

My statement was intended to give you credit, not admonishment. I was not trying to accuse you of speaking out of your lane, or diminish your post.
[/quote]

I’m sorry if I came across as defensive, it was not my intention. I was just trying to clarify my original point.

All the best.

With how fast submissions get put on would he be able to comprehend which ones he could still fight off and which are “on” and he has to tap? I can think of a few other situations where fight iq is very important and to know when someone is being set up for something.