By Ray Downs
By Ray Downs
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Lindsay Toler
By Jon Gitchoff
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
The locker room of the South Broadway Athletic Club is all chisel and bruise. A dozen amateur mixed-martial-arts fighters cram the space with hulking, battle-scarred bodies; some perform pre-fight rituals while others ice the pulp left on their faces from the evening's earlier cage matches. The sweaty smell of testosterone wafts through the air as the gladiators unleash profanity-laced battle cries while marching out toward the red-lit stage.
Lost in the shadows of these towering men is a little girl. She's twelve years old, but with her slight, 74-pound body frame, she appears even younger as she gazes up — way up — to the faces of the men around her. Her oversize T-shirt spills out of her baggy jeans, and a tangle of auburn hair hangs from an Adidas ski cap. To the casual onlooker she looks perfectly innocent — shy, even — prompting the question: What's a sweet kid like her doing in a locker room full of wild fighting men?
Ask any of those men, and they'll tell you one of St. Louis' well-kept secrets: The little girl is perhaps the toughest brawler in the building.
She is Madeline Green, daughter of legendary scrapper "Mean" Mike Green, one of the steeliest men in the sport and a participant in Missouri's first officially sanctioned amateur MMA fight in 2002. Later this evening he will enter the cage for the show's headline match in front of a loyal fan club that follows him everywhere. Plucked out of obscurity a decade ago by a promoter with an eye for talent, Green, who grew up an untamed street fighter, has since worked to slay his childhood demons and repair a wounded soul.
Now 37, the bulk of Green's cage career is behind him. And in the not-too-distant future, he will pass on his legacy to his young daughter, who helped put him on the path to redemption. Raised by Green the only way he knew how, Madeline is now considered one of the top MMA prospects of the region and a poster child for the growing movement of MMA training for kids.
At a recent regional jiu-jitsu tournament Madeline was given the opportunity to fight boys. She made one of them cry and defeated another who outweighed her by at least twenty pounds. Last year she won every karate match she entered, against girls and boys. In a couple of weeks she will compete in the North American Grappling Association's first tournament in the St. Louis area, and, in April, she'll enter the cage for her first kickboxing match at an otherwise adult show. The event is expected to draw about 1,000 fans.
"I'm putting my signature on her now," says Tony Biondo, a ringside announcer for the professional promoter Strikeforce. "Here's this little girl who looks like she can audition for Pippi Longstocking and choking boys bigger than she is.
"When I go across the country, I tell people they need to see this young girl in the Midwest named Maddy Green, who kicks the shit out of the pads. She was born for this sport."
Twenty-five years ago, Mike Green peered into the future and didn't see much. He was just another angry kid trying to survive the rough-and-tumble streets of Carondelet, the southernmost tip of south city. Here, near a plot of land known as the Irish Patch, working-class teenagers roamed the blocks, and character was earned with fists.
"South Broadway was known for being a place nobody wanted to come down to," recalls Eddie Tucker, who's run Tuckers Bar & Grill since 1988. "It was rough. We had to break up four or five fights a night in the bar."
Undersized and unskilled in sports, young Green was an easy target for bullies. They'd taunt him about just about anything: for the large red birthmark on his arm, for his puny frame, for being sheltered by overprotective grandparents. (Green's mother had abandoned the family early on, and his father, who worked at a local plastic factory, was rarely around.)
"I was always the little guy being tested," recalls Green, his face decorated with scabby remnants of a long career in the cage. "I always had to prove somethin'. People didn't think I was about nothin' and wanted to try me."
So Green learned to defend himself, and that meant fighting. At first, he took his share of pummelings but eventually began proving he could hang with bigger scrappers. Before long he earned a reputation as the guy who'd never decline a street fight. "He'd fight damn near anybody," says fellow MMA fighter Timmy Connors, who runs the House of Hard Knocks gym in Mehlville. "You put your hands up, he said, 'Yeah.'"
[Editor's Note: A correction was made concerning this paragraph. Please see the end of article.] After graduating from Mehlville High School, Green spent a few years driving a dump truck. But his anger continued to fester, and he sought emotional escape by fighting in parking lots after dark. He recalls once causing an opponent's bone to rip out of the skin.
Thanks to his street rep, he was able to land a few security gigs at local bars. One evening in 1999, while working at the since-shuttered Lucky's on Laclede's Landing, there was a scuffle at the door. Green entered the fracas with a front kick to the chest of an unruly patron, leaving him splayed across the hood of a car.
Wish the best for Maddy in whatever she does. Wish the best for her Mom also. Hope she continues to try to repair her relationship with her daughter. People do change and everyone deserves a second chance. Godspeed, Tina and Maddy....may very well be a long journey- definitely worth enduring.
I know Maddy IRL (: Might be going to her cage fight! Wish me luck getting tickets.. getting expensive really fast.
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Good luck, Mike and Maddy!
Being a friend of Mikes' going as far back as I can remember. He has always been a fierce competitor no matter what it was. I see the same in Maddy. Shes a very bright and beautiful young lady, but just like her Daddy dont piss her off! I am proud of his and her accomplishments in and out of the ring. Im even prouder to call them both my friends and extended family. To Loam and Fabs bring your sons to a fight and challenge "The Madness" and we'll see who gets the living daylights kicked out of them or winds up with brain damage. No one would, this isn't boxing. Research the sport a little better before you make accusations of such things. Then again I wouldn't expect anything less from the uneducated. This is Maddys' time to shine please dont tarnish this moment for her with your rash comments. Watching her train would make the laziest of men get off the couch and want to train! Thank you Maddy! We love you!
Interesting you assume I have a son. Son or daughter, I have no interest in bringing my progeny to a fight. Thank you, though, for the invitation, as well as for your assumption that people who are not interested in fighting are uneducated. We just find our inspiration in other, safer things.
Lets just say you and your father were Tennis Players and I made a comment like, "I wonder how your Dad would feel if you fell and your Tennis racket were to get lodged in your ass?" Then again you would probably feel nothing. With me knowing nothing about Tennis it sounds pretty stupid maybe even ridiculous. With you knowing this is virtually impossible unless I learned how to play Tennis on South Broadway. Cause with a comment such as yours I'd graciously shove the Tennis racket up your bum! Its a good thing you and your progeny aren't interested in fighting because the world needs more Tennis Players.
As a father I have to wonder how Mike will feel when he watches an opponent kick the living daylights out of his daughter. Then again, he may feel nothing.
Madeline is representing the new breed of young people growing up in this sport. I think this is very exciting. Martial Arts are great for everyone who has the temperament and willingness to train consistently. It's amazing to me that Maddy has learned so much, so quickly and is able to defeat opponents in a variety of fighting styles. Well done, Daddy Green for recognizing talent in his own daughter and nurturing her passion. Mini-Warrior Princess!
The only thing that's going to happen to her is brain damage and she'll have her dad to thank for it.
Thats a fairly narrow minded generalisation to make. Sure people get injured in sports like this but the numbers are tiny.Youre just as likely to get injured as a pedestrian as you are in a fighting ring.
She will have her amazing father to thank for her self confidence, discipline, and guidance that will make her an amazing woman. Wish every little girl was lucky enough to have such a loving devoted father.
there are other ways to give your daughter self confidence, discipline, and guidance that will make her an amazing woman without brain damage and dementia and roid rage
1. karate 2. girl scouts3. military(when shes 18)
by the way what boy would want to fight her i mean every boy in history is taught to never to hit a girl
She'll also have him to thank for broken bones or teeth - or even brain damage. There's a reason there are laws against children participating in this kind of fighting in most states.