One of the biggest supporting factors to every fighters training camp and fight preparation is the support of their team and more importantly their family. And perhaps there is no truer case of this than the support for Jake “The Snake” Beckmann from his biggest fan, his mother Sherry.
19 year old Jake is not your average MMA fighter, suffering from Down Syndrome from birth, Jake has been through more adversity in his 19 years than most will ever have to deal with.
“He was confined to a wheelchair for over a year in his early teens due to multiple hip surgeries. When he was very young, he had very low muscle tone, which meant he could not walk until he was four years old. He has battle ongoing thyroid issues which messes with his metabolism. He has scaring in his left lung due to many respiratory events. ”
It would seem that having dealt with the above issues the last thing that someone would want to see a loved one put themselves through was a combat sport as rigorous and physically demanding as MMA.
But for Sherry the decision to let Jake begin MMA training was not one which she had to ponder on for very long and was made slightly easier by Jake’s obsession with the sport he loves and his desire to compete in an MMA bout.
“The decision was not difficult at all. I have always viewed Jake like a compass, he points me in the direction that he wants to explore and my job is to find ways to make that happen. When he loses interest in something, then I follow that direction too. The greatest gift I have as a mother is that he knows he is empowered to explore his life. I will never put him in a box, I will never tell him to conform.”
While Sherry had no qualms in letting Jake start up training in MMA, she was absolutely overwhelmed and taken back at how quickly things shaped up, from Jack starting his training, to the night he reached his dreams and got to take on Nate Quarry.
“This whole dynamic is a complete surprise, no actually a wonderful gift to us both. I had no clue as I watched him train on his Bob The Bully dummy at home, saw him watching MMA videos all day, and took him to training every week that something like this was even possible. Who would have known? Yet it unfolded with what I would say was perfection.”
Although Jake was totally confident and eager to fight, just how difficult was it for Sherry sitting cage side watching her son enter the arena and then compete, knowing how big of a deal this was for him and her.
“I guess my first response was like any mother. Did he drink enough water? Are his gloves on too tight? Things like that. I could not be with him before the fight, so that was a great opportunity for me to let go and trust Jacob and his team.”
“When he walked into the ring and the crowd started clapping, then I knew it would probably be a great experience. But up until that point I was not sure how the audience would respond. From there, all I focused on was the look on Jacob’s face. When he blew the crowd kisses, I knew he was fine.”
Following the fight and in the lead up to it, Sherry had noticed some big changes in Jake, both physically and mentally. Something which she is unable to comprehend.
“The impact to Jake is profound in both dimensions, physically he has overcome so many physical challenges. The mental aspects are really where he shines. Being able to feel powerful in his body gives him a sense of self competency. Connection with people at the gym has provided amazing socialisation.”
“I can only imagine what the impact of the fight with Nathan will have on him, I have already seen it. He walks a little prouder and stands a little higher. You could say he has a little swagger going on. But I tell him to remain humble. For someone like Jake, that won’t be hard though as all he knows is to love and be kind to others. MMA has helped what is already a bright star shine a little brighter.”
The huge impact on her son has given Sherry an insight into what the sport of MMA has to offer to its competitors and given the impact it has had on her son, Sherry will always hold MMA in very high regards.
“I have nothing but admiration and respect for the sport and industry. In fact this experience has allowed me the blessing of meeting really amazing individuals in the local MMA community.”
“I already had great fondness for amount of commitment, discipline and physical demands required of MMA fighters, but I now equally treasure the wonderful attributes of courage, loyalty, and dare I say compassion that has been so beautifully demonstrated as well. In the case of Jacob’s fight, MMA strength, power, and honor was expressed in a very different way, and I will be forever grateful.”
The fight, whilst helping Jake reach his dreams also had a big financial impact on the foundation Create the Connection which was set up by the Beckmann family. The fight itself raised $1,000 but also allowed Sherry the opportunity to promote the Create the Connection foundation.
“A month before Jacob’s fight, Jacob and I created a non-profit called “Create the Connection”. The website address is createconnection.org. If you go the website you can see an example of the card we handed out at the fight. The goal is that this non-profit is ran by people with differences, in other words, Jacob and his staff will print, market, and ship the empowerment cards as the orders come in.”
Having had the chance to help Jake reach his dreams what advice does Sherry have for any other parents out there who may be thinking about letting their children train in MMA?
“Being a parent of someone who has differences requires one to examine oneself on a daily basis. Personally, it meant that I had to learn to live fearlessly. This meant I had to deal and resolve any personal issues regarding inadequacy, fear, or self-esteem. Basically you can’t give what you don’t already have. And for Jacob to have courage and confidence, then that means so must I.”
“I’ve learned that it’s really ok to be on outside looking in on society and people may even been very mean and cruel. I am really comfortable in that place now, none of that bothers me. From a place of no fear and no deficit anything is possible. Here’s a great question. What if we are all loveable, good enough, and worth, just like we are? If Jacob could live life with that theme, then I would have been successful as a parent and as a human.”
Be sure to check out Jake’s facebook page facebook.com/jacobmma19