- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The story of a Milwaukee man with intellectual disabilities who fought in an unregulated kickboxing bout, then was denied the promised medal and money, has prompted some well-wishers to send him both.

Jessie Roach was told he would get $50 and a medal for participating in the match against a more seasoned fighter last month. But his opponent knocked Roach out in the first round and left the event without paying him or giving him the medal.

After the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/13kKNz6 ) included Roach’s story in an article about unregulated combat sports in Wisconsin, several readers across the country have since sent Roach letters of encouragement, money and medals.

John Hewitt of Orlando, Florida, gave Roach two of his medals and a letter, telling him he has a lot of guts and doesn’t need to fight to prove he’s courageous.

“I wanted you to have my most prized medal I won for first place in a grappling tournament,” he wrote. “You deserve it more than I do, my friend.”

Hewitt told the newspaper Thursday that the article, which he found linked on a mixed martial arts comment board, moved him to send his medals to Roach.

“It’s hard to step in the ring and put it all on the line,” Hewitt said. “He really deserves that medal.”

Roach has received several letters, including one from Michigan that included $50, as well as motivating messages on social media.

“It made me feel pretty good about myself,” Roach said of the outpouring.

State lawmakers are drafting legislation to regulate kickboxing events. Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay said Roach’s story has fueled his desire to take action.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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