SAN DIEGO — Crown Point resident Zion Clark recently made his professional MMA debut in San Diego but unlike most fighters, he entered the octagon with one major disadvantage: fighting without the use of his legs but ultimately proving that anything is possible.
“Just the feeling of it,” recounted Clark. “I was tired, I was breathing heavy, I got my hand raised and I felt nothing again, and it was awesome. That’s the feeling that we chase for, that we strive for. You don’t want to be the one looking up at the lights; you want to be the one looking down on the mat with your arm in the air. You want to be victorious.”
The 25-year-old was born with caudal regression syndrome, a rare disease found in one out of every 100,000 children. He bounced around the foster care system for 17 years before finding a home and falling in love with his first passion: wrestling.
“It’s a lot of different movements, a lot of different techniques,” continued Clark. “I had to look at and completely break down and build back up but I’m very appreciative of my coaches, and teammates. It’s been five years with this group to get this fight and I wanted to win for them.”
Now the former Kent State All-American is returning to his fighting roots, defeating Eugene Murray at the Gladiator Challenge by unanimous decision.
“The things that I do in the cage that make them look effortless, I’ve drilled them 1,000 times,” continued Clark. “The simplest move could be the most dominant in the match that decides tour career.”
And while he doesn’t have his next fight lined up yet, Clark eagerly awaits whoever that challenger might be.
“I’m 1-0, why not make it 2-0,” Clark said.
“He’s a message to the world and everything he embodies,” said Craig Levinson, Clark’s manager, mentor and trainer. “Especially with mental health being such a big topic today, Zion is that message to the world with the action he takes.”