Fighting the grief

John Fox Jr at the Black Devil MMA club in Toronto, Ontario.

John Fox Jr at the Black Devil MMA club in Toronto, Ontario.

by Barb Nahwegahbow, Anishinabek News, June 26, 2015

TORONTO –Twenty-five hours a week, John Fox Jr. is training at the Black Devil gym across from Honest Ed’s in Toronto. The 20-year-old citizen of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve is a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter. MMA is a full-contact sport that combines different fighting styles, including karate, boxing, kickboxing and wrestling. It requires enormous discipline and focus, “but this is what I love,” said Fox. “This is what I’m passionate about.”

The owner of the gym and also Fox’s coach, Danny Beauclerc remembers the day he met Fox. “This scary looking dude walked into the gym. A huge guy, tattoos all over and he looks really mean. And the first thing he says to me is, I just got out of prison and I wanna fight!” Fox is 6’3” and weighs in at 260.

For at least five hours a day, training distracts Fox from the grief of losing his sister Cheyenne. She was 20 years old when she plunged to her death from a 24th floor balcony in April 2013. The Toronto police ruled it a suicide, but her family doesn’t agree.

His sister’s death unleashed a lot of anger, and Fox admits “I did a lot of bad things to a lot of people.”  He was drinking every day and, “getting into trouble. I had eight charges for robberies in one month,” he said, and he ended up in jail. “I was grieving,” he said, but agrees that’s no excuse.

The training helps to keep the grief at bay, “but it’s always gonna be there,” he said. “You never get over it. You learn to adjust to it. Life can be like glass sometimes. It’s no use trying to pick it up when it’s broken, you just end up hurting yourself. You get tools to help you build on what’s been broken.”

For Fox, his tool is MMA and being the best he can be at it. He acknowledges a competitive streak that started when he was a 2-year-old Grass Dancer and competing against some of the best dancers in North America.

MMA “is not a fight form,” says Fox. “It’s an art form. It’s more than punching and kicking, it’s about being a martial artist. What you learn in here, you take out there and you apply it to your actual life. And then before you know it, you’re in school, doing all the things you thought you could never do.” He’s starting school in July to get his high school diploma. This will give him the option to go to college in future and get a decent job. He knows what it’s like to be broke and homeless and that’s not the life for him.

In the meantime, he’s gearing up for two fights this summer, providing they can find guys willing to take him on. He’s fighting Heavyweight and his coach said, for someone so big, he’s awfully fast.

Fox encourages women to take up martial arts, “because of the big MMIW epidemic we have right now,” he said. “Girls are getting sexually assaulted and this training would be a great thing for them.”

Posted on June 27, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: