Live Your Dream

3 04 2012

A few years back, I remember watching a flag football game at a field in west Gloucester.   Many a former Gloucester High School star at one point or another has turned to flag football after the pads.   Gloucester High’s football team has always been known for their running game.  In this particular flag football game one of Gloucester’s finest tailbacks came reeling toward the side-line.  The tight-end kicked out the outside linebacker.  The speedy back cut inside the block, and then back out to the sidelines. There was nobody to catch him…except one player.   Dave Helfant shed his block and took to catching the speedy former GHS running back from behind.  I remember saying to myself, “whos is that guy?”

Mixed martial arts (MMA) has been around now for many years.  Gyms have popped up all over the country  training fighters  with the “most dangerous” strikes and techniques from the multitude of gyms.  Many a Martial Arts purist has looked at the sport of MMA as “not the real thing” as most martial artists immerse themselves in a form, knowing the endeavor will take a lifetime of training and then some.   Purists see the competitive nature of martial arts to be artificial-“the way” or “path” of many of the arts is just that;  a way of life that does not include competition for prize.

If you’ve never heard of it, Muay Thai is a form of the  martial arts.  Like boxing, karate, jujitsu and other forms of defensive training, there is a competitive side to Muay Thai.  Muay Thai has it’s origins in Thailand and is the national sport there.  Fighters begin training VERY young.  In Thailand it is not uncommon for a boy or girl to start fighting in the ring as young as eight years old.   A solid Muay Thai fighter that turns professional is a very dangerous competitor.  The fights can be hard to watch.

Helfant decided at age thirty-eight  that he would seek the true roots of a style of martial art, and he would choose Thailand to gain the wisdom and training that only those in the nation of origin can provide.  Not only is Dave learning the art, but he is taking on fights (part of the culture) with very talented Muay Thai fighters.

When Helfant returns to Cape Ann, he will have completed his third winter in Phuket, Thailand.  He has taken five fights there giving him a record of three wins and two losses.  He also has two knock-outs within that record.  He trains everyday at the “Dragon” Muay Thai training facility.  He is forty-two years old.

“Why go through with something like this so late in life?”  you may ask.  Dave Helfant is living his dream. When asked, he says, “I’ve done my share with the hard-knocks of life.  When I was younger, and unfocused I got into trouble.  My use of alcohol got me plenty of write-ups in the local newspaper.  Muay Thai training and fighting helps to keep me focused and productive towards a goal.  Taking this risk in my life has brought me opportunities that would not have been available to me back home.”

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