Times Staff Reporter
After fighting various personal demons, an area resident is quite literally fighting in a continued effort to turn his life around.
Terre Haute resident, Joseph Greene, has spent the last four months working up the ranks of Elite Cage Fighting (ECF), which sponsors many sanctioned fights a year at various locations across the state. Greene and his Elite peers will be taking their cavalcade of mayhem to Bloomington this Saturday, with an event at Amvets.
Cage fighting came into Greene's life at a low point. Greene, who has struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol, was staying at Freebirds Solution Center, a rehab clinic in Terre Haute. James Faulk, a fellow resident he befriended during his stay, made reference to the organization and informed Greene it wasn't difficult to get involved in.
Greene said he took to ECF quickly. He already had extensive fighting experience, as he had been training for nearly four years in hopes of getting into boxing. Greene said the boxing training served him well, as he was able to secure a slot on the ECF card.
Once he got on board, Greene said it opened up a whole new world to him.
"The first time I got in that cage, it was like I had run 10 miles," Greene said. "There were hundreds of people just looking at you. To have all that attention directed at me was crazy."
Whatever butterflies he may have had seem to have faded, as Greene has worked his way to a 2-0 record on the circuit's Welterweight card. The early success of his fighting career has marked the beginning of what Greene hopes will be a full-blown turnaround of his life.
Substance abuse has been a continued problem in 26-year-old Greene's life, which has landed him various stints in both rehabilitation clinics and jail, with his most recent prison stint having occurred just last year.
However, Greene says fighting has given him a new lease on life and that training to work his way up the ECF ranks has proven to be a welcome change to his life of the past.
"(Training) has been extremely beneficial," Greene, who's been sober for eight months said. "When I get stressed, instead of turning to drugs, now I just go to the gym. Exercise is like a drug in itself."
Greene said the fighting has also brought into focus the importance of his personal life. A father of three, Greene said he knew it was important to be active in the lives of his children and anything that would keep him from falling off the wagon was a welcome addition to the lives of he and his family.
Other people are taking notice of his transformation. Josie Kirchner, the grandmother of one of Greene's three children, has taken on an unofficial role of mentor, advising him on various paths she hopes he'll take, including trying to obtain his General Education Diploma. Kirchner has known Greene for several years and says he hasn't always been a completely reputable character.
However, she says she has taken great notice of the changes he has made in his life recently, and said he was on the right path to morphing the opinions many people may have had about him in the past.
"I'm very proud to see he's going in the right direction to improve his life," Kirchner said.
Employed at That Other Guy Auto Glass in Terre Haute, sober and focused, Greene says he is completely serious about leaving the demons of his past life behind for good. He said he would still like to make his way into boxing if the opportunity ever arose, but he is very focused on his new career as a cage fighter, and said it would continue to prove to be a great sense of catharsis in his once chaotic life.
"It's awesome," Greene said of being in the cage. "It's such a big change from what I was used to doing. It feels real good to have something to strive for."
The fight at Amvets, 5227 W. Airport Road, Bloomington, takes place Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets, which run from $25-$40, can be purchased online at elitecagefighting.com, or by phone at 317-418-2614. The event is open to all ages.