MMA Fighter With Down Syndrome Takes Fight to Court

By Christina Hernandez
|  Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014  |  Updated 7:31 AM PDT
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A 24-year-old MMA fighter with Down Syndrome is taking his fight to court after the Florida Boxing Commission said he can't compete in a sanctioned fight. NBC 6's Christina Hernandez reports.

A 24-year-old MMA fighter with Down Syndrome is taking his fight to court after the Florida Boxing Commission said he can't compete in a sanctioned fight. NBC 6's Christina Hernandez reports.

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A 24-year-old MMA fighter with Down Syndrome is taking his fight to court after the Florida Boxing Commission said he can't compete in a sanctioned fight.

While the boxing commission says Garrett Holeve can train and take part in exhibitions, where there is no score kept, it will not allow the Cooper City fighter to take part in an actual competition.

"He didn't understand why he's not allowed to compete," said his father, Mitchell Holeve. "He understands he has Down syndrome, but he doesn't feel like it's stopped him from competing, and yeah, he was very depressed."

He said when his son got the news in August, he was so upset that it took him weeks to get back to the gym.

"I was disappointed," Garrett Holeve said. "I was crying."

Mitchell Holeve said his son has lived his entire life without letting Down Syndrome get in the way, training like any other MMA fighter.

"People see his work ethic and they see how much he wants it and that kind of attracts them to him," he said. "They respect the effort that he puts in."

The fighter has even found an equally-matched opponent to go up against -- Special Olympian David Stephen from Nebraska who has monoplegic cerebral palsy.

Now, the Holeves said they are prepared to take the fight to court, by suing the Florida Boxing Commission to court for discrimination.

"He's trained like any other MMA fighter is trained," attorney Amanda Heystek said. "Garrett is trained to compete."

Calls from NBC 6 to the Florida Boxing Commission were not returned.

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