Arizona man’s journey to MMA ring is inspiring

Arizona Sports News online

Matt Betzold was born to fight. His first battle began when he was born six weeks early on New Years Day in Payson, AZ.  He had to be air evacuated to Phoenix where he would have a fair chance in fighting for his life.

The biggest fight for his life would actually occur six years later.  Around Christmas time, right before Matt’s 6th birthday, he was poisoned with mushroom-laced candy. A man, who had supposedly been a family friend, poisoned Matt in the hopes to kill him to fulfill a secret vendetta against Matt’s father.

After Matt finished playing a Sheppard in a church Christmas play he became violently ill and was rushed to the hospital.  He ended up being allergic to the antibiotics they administered, and the drugs ate through his skin causing scars to cover parts of his body.  He then slipped into a coma, which he didn’t wake up from for six weeks.  While the doctors had pretty much thrown in the towel and lost hope, Matt showed the first sign of the kind of determination that would become an integral part of who he is.

While he was in the coma, gangrene set in and they had to amputate his leg.  Most kids spend their 6th birthdays having parties, but Matt spent his 6th birthday in a coma having his leg amputated and fighting for his life, and it was the most important fight that he would ever win.

After waking from the coma, Matt realized his leg was missing when he tried to get up, and with the innocence a 6-year-old possesses he asked the doctors to put it back.  Matt says that he was crying when he realized his leg was gone, but he did not fully comprehend that they would not be able to sew it back on. From there he spent the long and grueling process of rehabilitation, relearning his motor skills and the mobility of all of his limbs, along with learning to walk with a prosthetic.

Eleven years later Matt stepped into his first MMA Gym, unknowingly discovering what would be his passion in life.

Now, at age 28, Matt has dedicated more than 10-years to training in grappling and MMA.

He entered into a battle, which took years to finish, against the Arizona Boxing Commission.  He eventually won and became the first amputee to be approved to fight by a state boxing commission. With his most recent title fight, Matt has also become the first, and currently the only, amputee to hold a professional MMA title.

Anyone who knows Matt knows that he was meant to stand out.  He has faced fight after fight in his life, and has met each one head on with an admirable perseverance and a spirit that never quits. He is an inspiration, a man that demonstrates to everyone that you can always rise above, and that there is always something worth fighting for.