Dec 6, 2012, 10:07 AM EDT
If you’re the new kid in school, the first thing you should probably do is make friends with Reshat Mati. No one is going to mess with you if your friend has the nickname “The Albanian Bear”. Mati, from Brooklyn, N.Y., is only 13 years old, but is already a world champion in three fighting disciplines: kickboxing, muay thai and grappling. And he’s the United States National Silver Gloves boxing champion.
Reshat wants to be both a professional boxer and MMA champion. He trains five days a week, traveling to two different gyms, in Brooklyn (for boxing) and Staten Island (kickboxing), every night. His father wants him to participate in MMA, but it’s illegal in New York … so they travel out of state to find bouts. In NY, he boxes.
With all the recent revelations concerning concussions and head injuries in sports, I’m not sure this is the path I’d want my son to take. Reshat’s philosophy, “keep your hands up and you won’t get hurt,” doesn’t strike me as solid advice. But there’s no question that all this has been a positive force in his life as well.
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