Roy Martin III has weathered his shore of knockdowns in life, but the 27-year old has learned to adapt to any situation.
“I like to think of myself as a 'fighter' who happened to pursue the sport of boxing," he said. "For me boxing represents the will, the struggle, the battle that has been present in my life. It represents my fight."
When in the ring, Roy’s thoughts are very clear.
“All the struggles, all the pain, all the mistakes I made in my life... I think about all of it.”
Misfortunes and poor decisions seem more common throughout Roy's childhood than the presence of his own father, due to his parents' separation.
“I really didn’t get to see him a lot due to him and my mom being separated, so he wasn’t in my life every day," he said. "Whenever he did try to come around he wanted he respect of the daddy role that he didn’t earn."
By the age of 15, Roy found himself in a fight that he realized he couldn’t win.
“I was lost and caught up with the wrong crowd stealing cars for money. I got caught, put on probation," he said. "Shortly after that I violated. I spent three months in Lew Sterrett, and three months was pretty much long enough time for me to say, 'Roy it’s time to get your act together.'"
Family and earning a living was now Roy’s focus. He found work at a local steel processing plant and was one week away from earning a full-time position. Roy had no idea he was about to face the biggest challenge of his life.
“I operated a machine that bends steel. Before you noticed my foot was caught up in it and crushed," he says. "About a month later is when I got the news that my foot would be amputated.”
Learning to walk again at the age of 23 is not what Roy had in mind. And certainly not boxing at the age of 27. But by sheer coincidence, Roy found his connection to amputee boxing.
“It was like a sign or message form God. I was strolling on my timeline and I just seen it. I got with the right people and its been on ever since," he says.
“He presses through the adversities, he presses through the negativity," Roy’s wife, Blu Martin, said. "He presses through it all. I’m proud just to see him succeed on so many different levels.”
Roy has been boxing for three years and for the past four months, Monday through Friday, two-and-a-half hours a day. He has trained diligently in preparation for only his second fight as an amputee boxer. But that training does comes with challenges.
Roy says although it may sound simple, he’s constantly mindful of keeping his leg dry from the sweat in order to avoid an infection.
"This right here is kind of frustrating at times, this used to get to me," he said. "Be like, 'man why can’t I just keep going all the time?' But one thing you got to learn about life, man... life you just got to adapt to any situation."
Part of Roy's routine includes his training runs, but recently while on his morning sprint Roy had yet another encounter with law enforcement. This time, a sheriff’s deputy had something to share with Roy just as he was finishing.
“With your story and what you’ve done, everybody can do it if they just try. And you need to realize that you are an inspiration to other people, even though you may not see yourself as such," he told him. "All it takes is to hear your story and realize what you’re doing.”
”My initial thought when I saw him was, 'Oh Lord, what did we do wrong this time?' It was a real surprise, but at the same time it was the motivation that I needed headed into San Antonio for the Amputee Boxing Match," Roy said.
It’s the only event of its kind in the United States. The National Amputee Boxing Association was organized to promote amateur boxing for amputee athletes.
"Psychologically it’s given these men and women an opportunity to compete in something that they were told for many years that they were not allowed to do. And we do it because we want to see people succeed," Executive Director and Founder of The National Amputee Boxing Association, Shaman Owensby, said.
These athletes include military veterans, civilians, cancer and accident survivors. Each with a unique story of their arrival to the sport.
“On my last deployment overseas our team got hit with an IED," Former Marine and double amputee Alex DelRio said.
Due to the blast and medical complications, Alex lost both legs.
“Makes me realize that even if we are injured from missing limbs, you’re able to still compete," he said. "And seeing other fighters fighting that were injured as amputees, I was like 'Wow, you know what? Maybe I’ll do this.' It keeps you sharp on your toes, even though I don’t have any toes... it’s pretty good, I like it.”
Although the "fight" can sometimes appear defeating, these men and women say they're not looking for sympathy because of their "disability," but rather an acceptance of their true “ability.”
No one understands that better than Jake Johnson. Jake was born without his femur bone.
“You run into people who say you can’t do this, and so that becomes another problem," he said. "People look at you like you shouldn’t be doing this or they pity you or look down on you. I don’t know what it’s like to lose my limb because I was born without it, so for me it’s always been normal to be one legged.”
The night’s title fight would soon belong to Roy. His five-round decision was the pay off to many days of training and a stepping stone to his journey.
“I was always told that boxing is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical," he says. "If you believe that you can do it, you can get it done.”
It’s a weekend these men and women will remember, not because of the wins and loses, but because of their hope to inspire and make a difference in someone’s life.
“What I’m really trying to do is wake-up the world," Roy says. "Wake up everybody who sill wants to chase something. I want them to say that I’m just motivation to them. My motto has been and will forever be, never fold."
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