Age can hold little meaning when it comes to training Mixed Martial Arts.
At Fightcross, Harley Smith and Josh Rice are a testament to that;
Year 12 students who humble men twice their age on the mat and who are equally inspiring off it.
Both are assets to their gyms.
HARLEY Smith’s friends might not be able to relate to MMA but they can relate to somebody chasing a dream.
“They don’t really get it (MMA), but they see me committing to something 100% and I think that pushes them to get better,” Harley says,
“When they see photos of me standing on a podium, being rewarded for hard work, I think it motivates them,”
Harley is not only a source of inspiration for his friends, but also his students.
He takes the kids Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes at the recently opened Geebung gym and says that it was a challenge for him at first.
“It was quite awkward; I felt nervous and didn’t know how to approach it. But now I’m completely comfortable and I really enjoy it,”
Harley feels a connection with his students because he sees himself in them.
“It reminds me of when I was young and starting out my journey. I am very appreciative of the people that have helped me over the years and allowed me to get to the point where I am today and I want these kids to have a similar experience,”
Harley has high hopes of fighting in the UFC one day.
And his dreams don’t stop there.
“In 10 years time; I’d like to think I’m competing in the UFC, working in the Army, setting myself up to build my own gym; maybe I’ll have a wife and kid as well,”
Fellow Fightcross youngster JOSH Rice also aspires to be a professional fighter.
“I know I can get there; I’m willing to put in the hard yards, I’m willing to work for my dreams,” he explains,
Josh has been training at Fightcross for six years and has come of age in the gym a far cry from the setting of his upbringing.
“Growing up wasn’t easy; Mum was a drug dealer and I saw the world of trauma and abuse that came with that life,” Josh laments,
“I didn’t want that life and so I began to search for something else,”
Browsing the web Josh saw Fightcross.
“I was immediately drawn to it; I was an angry kid and this seemed like a place I could channel my energy,”
MMA gave Josh hope.
Hope that he’d lost when his father died.
“After my dad died, I was just a statistic or at least that is what it felt like as a foster care child,” he says,
“But with MMA I began to see myself as more than that,”
And so Josh began a journey that restored purpose to his life after enduring an incredibly difficult childhood.
Josh now stands on the precipice, preparing himself for the next chapter – life after school.
“The future excites me,” says Josh who would like to undertake study in the area of paramedicine and/or nursing.
“The way I see it is, I can break somebody down and then put them back together again,” he laughs about the fighter/medic lifestyle.
Josh is very grateful for the guidance from his MMA coaches, namely Ross Cameron who he sees as a father figure, and is determined not to let them down.
“I control my destiny; I am not going to let down those that invested in me and helped me; I will achieve my goals,”
HARLEY and JOSH: two young men with MMA skills, good manners, and big dreams.
The world is their oyster.