Garrett Holeve, an MMA Fighter With Down Syndrome, Is on His Way to Changing the Sport

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Garrett has fought only two exhibition matches. There have been no winners or vicious attempts to knock the other guy's head off. In February, he's slated to participate in a third exhibition fight at the Ultimate Kickboxing and MMA Challenge, a charity event to benefit the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

"There are a lot of promotions going around that I could get him a fight for," says Haddican, Garrett's electrician friend. "It's just finding the right one and the right crowd... As for finding the other fighter, we're not telling anyone to take a dive. We tell them to hit him, kick him, and punch him. We tell them to keep their guard up because he's gonna get ya. But we're not putting him in there in a full-on fight. It's just an exhibition."

In reality, Garrett will never make it as a professional. No matter how much time he spends in the gym, no matter how much weight he can bench-press, that one extra chromosome has imparted a permanent disadvantage.

"The issue with Garrett's fighting is this: reaction time," his dad says. "He's never going to have the reflexes that a regular kid is going to have... Our goal is just to get the word out and maybe we'll find some special-needs kids we can start training and have our own little Special Olympics for the kids who want to do this."

Still, pro or not, Garrett is already changing the world of mixed martial arts simply by doing what he's doing.

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Chris Sweeney