The Official Home of Professional Muay Thai fighter Justin Greskiewicz
I'm exhausted by people. Relentlessly, I'm trudging through the chest-deep mire of people's self-promoting muck. Through all the annoyances, the drudgery, it's sometimes hard to remember why it is that I have dedicated my life to the many sides of this sport. It's hard to remind myself that I love this and hard to maintain an optimistic view of the world that I'm a part of. Then, every once in a long while, I'll find a moment of personal validation.
The other day, I stepped outside and walked to my car to run some errands. Right next door to my house, there is a beautiful new home that was recently completed. I saw a very well dressed young man with an athletic build who seemed to look a bit familiar. As I sat in my front seat, I looked again, squinting out the sun for a moment and realized that I know who that man is. He's a fellow fighter from Philadelphia, professional MMA and Boxing competitor, Sam Orepoza, known as "Sammy O".
I stepped out of my car, gave a small wave, and asked the man if I was right about his identity. He looked up and said "Justin!", like we were tight buddies. We don't know one another very well, but we are friends due to the fact that we've been battered in front of thousands of people to earn a paycheck. There is a kinship that is hard to articulate. I know he's been through a lot of the same things I have. I know he's had the same aspirations, experienced the world-conquering success, suffered embarrassing defeat, and been scarred both physically and emotionally through this journey. As I got closer to him, I could see his cauliflower ears earned from years of training, could hear the small variations of breaths that sounds just a little different than those that come from a nose that has never before been broken. This is one of my people, and there are so few of them. Lots of people like the idea of being a fighter. A handful of people in the world suffer through the grueling discomfort, pain, and heartbreak to ever actually be a fighter.
Deciding to work out doesn't make you a fighter. Training in a fight sport doesn't make you a fighter. Stepping in the ring doesn't make you a fighter, it makes you someone who has fought. A fighter is someone who fights. It's what they do. This man has lived that life. It was good to see someone, even for a moment, that knows the life. We are I,n some strange way, brothers.
I asked him how he was, what he was doing, what he's been up to, and all that. He told me about getting involved in some real estate business and trying to supplement his fighter's life. It was great to see someone from my corner of the planet, someone who I understand doing well in the world. I said goodbye, smiled and waved and walked back towards my car.
It only took about 3 steps for Sammy to call out to me and say "hey Justin!"..."while I got you hear, lemme ask you something."
"Shoot." I said.
"You've fought absolutely everyone. Malaipet, Kevin Ross, Ky Hollenbeck, Liam Harrison, everyone... Who kicked you the hardest?"
I smiled and walked back over to him. We were not done talking.
This killer, one of the best MMA fighters that Philadelphia ever produced, knew damn near everything about my fight career. He asked me about fights I had forgotten about. He mentioned fights from years ago and more recent fights. This dude, who has reached an incredible notoriety in a sport only slightly related to mine was asking me questions about fights that I've never seen video of. It was a great feeling. I thought he knew who I was, but was uninterested in my sport.
The conversation was a great boost to me. It makes me feel like I've earned a spot in the world. The days are tough and its hard to find motivation regularly. This gave that to me.
Thanks Sammy O. You brightened my week.