Garrett Holeve is itching for a fight. A 24-year-old Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Holeve says he hasn't been able to step into the ring since receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the Florida State Boxing Commission last August. He believes he was targeted because he has Down syndrome.
"I can do it," Holeve told Today.com. "Don't mess with me." Holeve and his father, Mitch, have hired an attorney to sue the boxing commission, citing discrimination. The letter came to Holeve right before he was scheduled to go head to head against David Steffan, a Special Olympian with cerebral palsy. A spokeswoman for the agency said the cease-and-desist letter was sent because the event was not sanctioned, and had nothing to do with Holeve having Down syndrome.
Holeve has spent four years training, and participated in several exhibition events. He's supported by his family, friends, and the National Down Syndrome Society, as well as 113,000 people who have signed a Change.org petition to get him back to the ring. His father has been accused of not having his son's best interests in mind, a claim he dismisses. "They've never met my son," he said. "If they were in my shoes, and they did anything different, then I think they'd have to deal with the consequences of not doing what he loves to do."
The case is set to go to trial in December. In the meantime, Holeve has been teaching martial arts to children.