South Florida MMA fighter with Down syndrome helping other adaptive athletes

'G-Money' prepares to fight same opponent for third time

DAVIE, Fla. – Around the octagon, Garrett Holeve is known as "G-Money" aka "The Punisher."

"He's always here," Holeve's coach, Miguel Baeza, told Local 10 News. "You don't ever have to ask if he's not going to be here because, more than likely, he's already here before you."

What makes Holeve's dedication to mixed martial arts even more remarkable is learning that he has Down syndrome.

It's a label that his father said Holeve has struggled with his entire life.

"I remember in high school he wanted to be everything from a rapper to a basketball player, just not the kid with Down syndrome in the back," Mitch Holeve said.

Six days a week, Garrett Holeve trains doing CrossFit and fighting at Rock MMA in Davie. He has already been in two sanctioned fights, winning his first in just the second round.

Now he's back in the gym and training for his third fight against the same opponent, who is also an adaptive athlete. It highlights another issue that Holeve has encountered during his MMA career.

"There's nothing in it for a typical fighter to fight G," Mitch Holeve said. "If they beat him, they're supposed to beat him. If G beats them, (they say), 'Oh, my God, you just lost to the kid with Down syndrome,' so I understand it's a no-win situation, but we're going to crack that barrier soon."

Growing up, Garrett Holeve didn't like to associate with other people his age who had disabilities. He felt being with them made his Down syndrome label more obvious.

His involvement in MMA has helped him come to terms with his disability. He is now training other adaptive athletes, who see him not for his disability, but for his accomplishments.

"They see me as a fighter," he said.

Holeve's next fight will be in St. Louis in June, and he's raising money to pay for the trip. Click here to help Holeve.

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