In 2005, two brothers won New York State Division I wrestling titles for Union Endicott High School.
One, Arthur, was the heavyweight champion, and later played defensive line at Syracuse, eventually being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2010, where he has played for the last two seasons. Next season, Arthur may have the chance to be a free agent and could come home to play for the Buffalo Bills in his home state.
Then there is his brother, Jonathan, who was the champion at 189-lbs. He also went on to professional sports, but, thanks to the short-sightedness of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, still does not have the chance to do what he does best —force other men to submit — in his home state.
You see, Jonathan is now know as Jon “Bones” Jones, aka the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion.
Bones is not just a champion, but a freakin’ machine in the ring. In his rise to the belt, he has beat UFC legends Stephan Bonnar, Ryan “Darth” Bader, Lyoto Machida, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans (who, by the way, finished fourth in New York State for Niagara-Wheatfield in 1998, when there was only one division). He is 16-1 overall, with his only loss being a controversial disqualification over Matt Hamill for “illegal” downward elbows.
This is a guy who, on his way to what would be his championship-winning fight against Rua, saw an elderly couple who had just been robbed, ran after the robber, took him to the ground and put him in a leg-lock until the police showed up.
Jones is no longer considered just the future of the sport; he is now seen as perhaps one of the greatest to step into the octagon.
But he still can’t fight in his home town or home state.
Keith Lobdell is the editor of the Valley News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.