The case for Kyle Maynard

The debate raged on through the summer of 2007. Should Kyle Maynard, the congenital amputee who became famous as a high school wrestler, be allowed to compete in MMA? On August 15th, 2007, the debate was essentially over as the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission voted unanimously 4-0, to deny the then 21 year-old, a license to compete in amateur MMA.

His story has been well-documented by Larry King, HBO, and even Oprah. It is truly an inspirational story. A child born without knees or elbows always wanted athletics to be a part of his life. Through hard work and dedication he made it happen.

He went 35-16 in wrestling his senior year of high school and qualified for the Georgia state tournament. After graduation he continued wrestling as a member of the University of Georgia club team. He has since turned his attention to MMA.

He has been training MMA at Georgia’s HardCore gym, which has fostered the development of such MMA standouts as Rory Singer, Brian Bowles, and Forrest Griffin.

Rory Singer’s brother and gym co-owner Adam Singer told Fight! magazine, “Kyle is one of the toughest kids I have ever been around. He is special because he does what he wants to do and nothing will ever stop him. Training him is a challenge, but it is rewarding watching him tap out able-bodied grapplers in North American Grappling Association tournaments.”

Recently, Maynard, now 23 years old, has reignited the debate as he is set to make his amateur debut on April 25th in Auburn, Alabama. The event is titled “Auburn Fight Night.” Despite his ability to continually overcome obstacles, many people still feel he has no business in the ring or cage.

With that being said, there are many reasons why he should be allowed to fight. Here is the three-pronged case for why Kyle Maynard should be able to make his MMA debut.

Credentials
Many MMA fans look to amateur wrestling when they are looking for prospects. Maynard has a rather impressive background. It may not include multiple NCAA tournament appearances, but qualifying for the state tournament in high school and wrestling in college are accomplishments in and of themselves. Since moving to MMA he has been training with a top quality team, the HardCore gym, and has performed well in NAGA tournaments.

If fans were to read about a former collegiate wrestler who has been training with Brian Bowles and doing well in grappling tournaments, they would go gaga over the possibility of the next great MMA star. In Maynard’s case, it just so happens that this prospect does not have arms or legs.

Weight Class
Some fans seem to be under the impression that Maynard will be competing against a much larger opponent. It is important to remember that MMA is governed by weight classes. In high school Maynard wrestled in the 103 lb class, and in college he moved up to the 125 lbs. division.

Often times Maynard had a serious strength advantage over opponents, because his lack of arms and legs allows him to have the body of a 200 lb man and compete against opponents of a weight close to his actual weight. The weight class for his MMA debut has not been announced yet, but it is safe to say he will have a similar strength advantage.

“Intelligent Defense”
Some recent UFC cards have brought the phrase “intelligent defense” into question; however, it is still the basic principle that governs MMA referees. If a fighter is not protecting himself properly or in danger of being seriously injured, then the fight is stopped. Kyle Maynard’s fight will be monitored with the same watchfulness.

If all his training and determination fails him and he ends up in trouble, then he will be saved by the referee just like any other fighter who steps in the cage or ring. He may have a physical disability, but that does not mean he is at more risk than other fighters.

When Ken Shamrock walked into the Octagon against Tito Ortiz for the third time, everyone pretty much knew how the fight was going to go. Surprise, surprise! The old Shammy got taken down and pounded out yet again. Before the fight, no one said that it was unsafe for him to compete and there certainly was no commission interference.

Despite the objections of the Georgia Commission and disapproving fans, Kyle Maynard will make his amateur MMA debut in April. Once again, the whole world will be able to see if he can do something deemed impossible.

by: Richard Mann