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Written by Genieve Sanchez
Posted by Mika Frankl
This past Friday night, the audience at Lovato Total Fitness, FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS SMOKE SERIES 3, witnessed a young woman’s dream come true. Teresa Garcia of Jackson’s Fitness stepped into the ring with pro MMA fighter Lynae Lovato for an exhibition fight. This was not a typical exhibition fight due to Teresa’s condition of being legally blind. Teresa has a condition called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis which is a genetic loss of vision that affects both her and her older sister. Her level of sight is limited to light, shapes, shadows and movement. She cannot see details, facial expressions, or colors. Despite these challenges Teresa’s story inspired both the promoters and athletic authorities to brain-storm options on how to make this dream come true.
Gym owner, Lenny Lovato and Co-Promoter, Coach Josh Lanier, worked hard to make this moment happen for Teresa. Lenny introduced the fight by sharing Teresa’s story with the audience and asked for their patience and silence while the fight took place. For two rounds Teresa threw every combination she knew and placed great pressure on her opponent Lynae Lovato, who defended herself in a guarded position the entire time. Although Lynae was not able to throw any punches at Teresa she certainly challenged her with plenty of movement and solid blocking with a guarded position. All the while, Teresa listened to her corner coach like a true champ and executed his exact calls as she followed the “jing” of the bells tied to Lynae (used to help cue her moment).
It was a genuine moment heightened by the reverent silence of the crowd. As a fellow fighter on the exhibition card that night, I found it to be a huge honor to be a part of something so special. One person who shared Teresa’s dream up close was Lynae Lovato of Lovato Total Fitness. When asked what it was like to be in the moment with Teresa, she said “It was amazing to see someone strive with everything they have to do something that many of us take for granted every day. Teresa is a special woman who has determination and passion; in which you hardly see capable in professional athletes possess. Tonight she set a high bar for all fighters in the community and it was a humbling experience that has changed my life as well as hers.”
Just a few hours before her exhibition fight, I was able to sit down with Teresa and ask her questions of how this dream started. She explained her passion for fighting started with a homework assignment for a karate class at the University which was to study and watch a UFC fight. She was instantly hooked and thought it was the “coolest” thing she had ever seen. Her next step was finding a school/gym that would accept her for who she was and aid her in reaching her dreams. This was not an easy task being that most places she approached freaked out at her condition. The first school she attended mainly taught her self-defense techniques but actual competition against an opponent was not offered there. Her next step was competing in her first grapple match, where she went out on her own and a volunteer aided coaching her at the competition. She then went to Jackson’s Fitness and felt it was a good fit for her.
Still in search of an opportunity to box, Teresa had received word about the Lovato’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS SMOKER SERIES and a friend encouraged her to contact the promoters. Being up front with the promoter’s regarding her condition; she gave them her background experience and asked to be on the card. Coach Josh Lanier said yes and told her they would figure out how to make this possible. Teresa was floored! In the days leading up to the fight she felt like a rock star and could not believe her dream was coming true.
“I am determined to do this and to make this possible, I want my story to get out there and encourage others. I dream big and I am proud of it!” says Teresa.
It was a touching scene to witness and on behalf of everyone at KNUXX I want to say congratulations to Teresa on being relentless about your dreams. Also, I would like to give kudos to Lovato Total Fitness for making this moment happen; it is inspiring to know that the community supports fighters of all backgrounds, levels, and abilities. Keep up the positive spirit, it truly encourages everyone.
Until next time…
Below is video from Friday night…
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