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One of the faces in the crowd that night was Randy Greenman, a well-known promoter of professional MMA fights in Illinois, where the sport was legal. (At the time, MMA was outlawed in Missouri.) Impressed by the young man's prowess, Greenman, who is now deceased, convinced Green to enter one of his upcoming matches. Green lost that fight but responded by entering another match, defeating his opponent with a first-round chokehold.
"He was just a street brawler who brought a south-side nastiness to the contest," recalls Biondo, the ringside announcer.
After winning a few more fights in Illinois, Green's fan base grew. At the time, promoters were lobbying the Missouri's Office of Athletics for the right to stage amateur MMA matches. In 2002, local promoter Jesse Finney called on Green for the state's first fight, scheduled as part of a kickboxing show. Finney, who runs Shamrock Promotions, knew Green had a reputation for being crazy. "He was always getting into trouble. He was never the most skilled in the world, but he was a natural-born fighter," says Finney. He christened his recruit with the nickname "Mean" Mike Green.
As Green continued fighting, he continued to succeed, winning most of his bouts and succumbing to a knockout just once. "There ain't too many people who could say they whipped me," says Green, showing a smile that exposes a front tooth permanently blackened from a particularly devastating blow.
"He's one of the top ten toughest fighters I've ever seen," says Brad Wick, director of the Combat Sports Commission, which sanctions fights in Missouri.
But despite the early accomplishments, Green still felt lost in the world, never able to overcome the psychological wounds of a mother who abandoned him — never finding a way to accept himself. "It drove me crazy," he concedes now. "I was mad at her. It pissed me off for a long time."
Rage boiled from within, and any faith he had in society had long been discarded. He hung out with drug addicts, disrespected his neighbors and continued to brawl in the streets when someone rubbed him the wrong way. "There'd be days we'd just ride through the county looking for fights," he says. He amassed a hefty arrest record for assault and was put on probation twice, he says. He grew depressed and, at times, overcome by hate.
"If there was a point to life, I didn't know what it was," he says.
Then, along came Madeline.
They call her "Maddy the Madness." There she is, in the home video her father proudly displays on his digital camera, clad in a black bandana and karate gi, circling her opponent on the mat.
The video, captured during last year's annual Veterans Memorial jiu-jitsu Tournament in Belleville, shows the Madness, then eleven, squaring off against her male opponent, who was at least twenty pounds heavier. (Earlier in the day she'd defeated another boy and made him cry.) Even on the tiny screen, it's clear: Her husky challenger has a smirk on his face. Who is this little girl, and is she serious about fighting me?
Soon, however, that smirk dissolves as the Madness pounces, gripping the boy's neck with a chokehold and hooking her leg around his back. The boy, suddenly worried, digs his fingers into his attacker's arm, desperate to loosen her death grip. But all he can do is stumble. Soon, the Madness uses the boy's momentum to heave him to the ground, digging her elbow into his chest. He is finished. After a final gasp, he taps his hand on her back, signaling submission. The Madness is the victor.
At four feet, six inches, Madeline is one of the smallest children in her sixth-grade class; some call her "Munchkin." But she can probably take down any guy her size in St. Louis.
"Maddy is the top MMA prospect in the Midwest right now — the best I've ever seen," says her karate coach, Sid Gee, an eighth-degree Hall of Fame black belt who served as an assistant coach in Chuck Norris' old World Combat League.
Mixed martial arts, which combines an assortment of fighting elements, such as wrestling, jiu-jitsu, karate and kickboxing, has come a long way in its short history. A decade ago, when the sport was in its infancy, participants consisted largely of street brawlers; those who were trained as kids usually specialized in only one of the various fighting skills.
But over the last few years, as cage fighting has become more mainstream, there has been a national effort to train young children in all MMA skills, in preparation for fight careers. As more kids have shown interest, youth classes have cropped up around the country, offering children a medley of martial-arts skills.
"For her age, she's the most talented fighter I've ever seen, and that's for guys and girls," says one of Madeline's coaches, Brittany Anic, who's ranked No. 4 in the world in her amateur MMA weight class and will soon turn pro. (Maddy is often referred to as "the next Brittany.")
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.