Josh Samman MMA Foundation Aides Jiu Jitsu and MMA Athletes While Creating a Legacy
Exploring the foundation helping MMA and Jiu Jitsu practitioners...
There is probably no greater pain in life than losing a child. Cheryl Phoenix has turned that tragedy into good by creating the Josh Samman MMA Foundation.
Cheryl’s son, Josh Samman was a household name to many in the MMA community. Josh was a professional MMA fighter who fought in both Bellator and the UFC. He was a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 17. In addition, he had an impressive record of 12 wins and 4 losses including a knockout win of Eddie Gordon and a submission victory over Caio Magalhães. Both victories earned him Performance of the Night bonuses.
In addition to his MMA resume, Josh has some other impressive accomplishments. He was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt under Daniel Valverde. He wrote The Housekeeper: Love, Death, and Prizefighting. Among other things, the book chronicles his struggles with addiction and the death of his girlfriend. Josh was also a contributor to UFC.com and BloodyElbow.com
Cheryl stated, “Josh’s specialness was so much more than of a mixed martial artist. I had no idea, I found so many letters from people telling him that he really inspired them and he didn’t share that with me. So I didn’t know that until after he passed. Complete strangers and people that I had heard of but didn’t know very well were telling me stories about how Josh turned their life around through his support or things that he said.”
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It is in this vein that Cheryl started the Josh Samman MMA foundation. The foundation’s website states their mission as, “Josh Samman was a talented artist in many aspects of life as well as a huge advocate for the sport of mixed martial arts. In addition to starting an MMA promotion that toured the state of Florida giving young athletes a chance to compete; he spent countless hours doing interviews and writing articles to bring more attention to the sport that changed his life. For Josh, it was about more than helping the sport of MMA grow, it was about helping people in need. Through his promotion he teamed up with multiple local charities, ranging from pediatric cancer to military veteran programs. It is in this spirit that we have decided to start a non-profit to help young athletes get a chance to have those same life changing experiences. We hope to help cover training expenses, travel expenses, and proper education on being a professional in the sport. Our goal is to one day have a sponsored athlete pass on the good deed to others in need. “
One great thing about the scholarships provided is that recipients do not have to be a professional athlete. They help amateur athletes with a variety of expenses. Anyone who has trained in Jiu Jitsu understands, the cost of tournament fees, gis and other items necessary to train can quickly add up. At the time of writing this article, the organization has only turned down two recipients.
Cheryl explains, “He always said that it changed his life (MMA) and turned his life around. It gave him something to channel all that into and he hadn’t found anything like that before. So even though I was deathly afraid of him doing it, in retrospect, it was the best thing – besides (Samman’s girlfriend) Hailey (Bevis) – that ever happened to him.”
MMA helped give Josh purpose after the death of his girlfriend Hailey Bevis in 2013. Now the Josh Samman Foundation MMA seeks to give the same purpose to other aspiring athletes.