MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Fight Game brings a lot of people to the cage for various reasons. Some are just trying to whip the other guy. Some are trying to prove something to themselves.
But, for one fighter on the local V3 circuit, the Mixed Martial Arts are a vehicle to help American Veterans in their transition back to society.
Some people may think of Mixed Martial Arts, or any type of organized fight‚ as an aggressive sport. But for retired fighter, Jason Lederfine, he uses it as a way to help those who need it most.
Lederfine says, “You’re fighting for what you’re fighting for, and I’m fighting for what I’m fighting for. Lets see who wins.” It took more than another fighter wanting a rematch against Jason Lederfine for him to come out of his three-year retirement.
“I said you know what, there’s a new organization that I’d love to raise some money for, so this could be a good avenue to do it.” Lederfine grew up wrestling. When he joined the Army, he won the All-Armed Forces Championship. He had plans to try out for the All-Army team, but was deployed to Iraq, where he served for 13 months.
After some time, Lederfine started working for V3Fights. He grew his social media brand, and became the in-cage announcer and fight manager. That’s when he realized he could use his platform to help others. For his latest fight he raised money for Irreverent Warriors. Friend Nick Sawall says, “I was in the Army from 2008-2012. Deployed in 2011. We lost a couple guys overseas, but we’ve lost twice as many since we’ve been home to suicide.”
Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day. Irreverent Warriors organizes hikes nationwide for veterans to come together and create a network back home. To wit, Lederfinal says, “We want veterans to know, we’re not about suicide awareness, we know that veterans are killing themselves. We’re about suicide prevention.”
For his “final fight,” Lederfine raised $2500 for the organization. He sold tickets for the fight, and then proceeded to win his fight in 44 seconds. It was what Army Veteran, Nick Sawall calls, true military fashion. “No time for the nonsense.” Sawall says. “We’re going to show up, do what we have to do, get it done and continue our mission.”
The next Irreverent Warriors march in Memphis is Oct. 3. Lederfine says he’s done fighting for now, but he’s said that before. He’ll do it again if it prevents one of his brothers from taking their life. Lederfine adds, “If somebody saw me on TV and said man, at 38 years old, this guy went through all of that just to have the platform to tell me that I’m needed, maybe I really am needed.”
The coronavirus has affected seven of Irreverent Warrior’s hikes nationwide. They’re finding other ways to bring veterans together, like sharing gamer tags so they can communicate online.