Triumph Found Through Tragedy
TAMPA, FL- On September 6th Sarah Kleczka made her amateur MMA debut in Tampa, FL against Angel Keihl at World Class Fight League 10. Sarah won that fight by way of a Split Decision. When the winner was announced and her hand was raised, there was an abundance of emotions that came over her. Her journey up to that point had been one filled with personal tragedy. That was a special moment for her as it was a small victory amongst a time of tragedy.
Just a year before, on September 13, 2013; Sarah’s fiancé, Ben Richards, passed away from a heat stroke that resulted in kidney failure. He was 20. Ben had been running at practice at Darton State College in Georgia, where he was on the wrestling team. His passing caused far stretching ripples all the way down through Tampa, where he was from. His strong presence in the martial arts community had caused a deep sadness amongst his teammates and family at World Class Martial Arts and surely with Sarah.
She began her journey into martial arts in April of 2013. It was through Ben that her love for it was found. She started with Tae Kwon Do and focused on that for about eight months before adding Jiu Jitsu and MMA training into the mix. She competed in her first Jiu Jitsu tournament in February of this year. Kleczka won first place in both Gi and No-Gi.
Having MMA in her life has helped greatly in what has been a rough time for her. Sharing that love with her fiancé has helped her to continue to move forward. He continues to be a great motivation for her and that is what drives her to become better.
Upon competing in the tournament, she decided that MA would indeed be the next step. Winning her debut fight was one of the best feelings she has ever had, as she described. It marked the first MMA win by a female fighter for World Class Martial Arts, under coaches Ralph Garcia and Cliff Jordan.
There is a long journey in front of Sarah. She has barely cracked the door into MMA and has much anticipation for what is ahead. Tragedy may have been what set this journey in motion, but it will surely be triumph that continues to open that door and help her reach her goals.