Iraq War veteran Joey Bozik defies the odds and hopes his story inspires others to keep fighting no matter what challenges they may have.
Bozik, injured in 2004 in a blast from an improvised explosive device, is a triple amputee who now has a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu.
Last weekend at the Austin Open, he won his first ever fight.
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"They didn't know what to do," Bozik said, about checking in for the match. "They're like, 'Should we even let him on the mat? What if he gets hurt? He's a liability. Look at him. He's already messed up!'"
It was a milestone on the long road since his injury.
"The explosion went into the floor of my vehicle, and that was that," Bozik said frankly. "I woke up as a triple amputee. My biggest concern was what the future was going to hold for me."
He had no idea it would lead to the Tier 1 Training Facility in McKinney. Bozik first went there so his daughter could take Jiu-Jitsu. The instructor suggested he give it a try, too.
"Jiu-Jitsu has helped me reorient myself and my goals, my passion, my desire," Bozik said. "The things that made me who I was before I got injured had gone away after my injury, and I needed a way to find them again. I needed a way to redefine myself."
Taking classes led to helping teach children's classes at the gym.
"Part of it is them understanding anything is possible," Bozik said. "If I can do Jiu-Jitsu, they can do Jiu-Jitsu."
Bozik is sharing his love for Jiu-Jitsu. He and his mentor at Tier 1 Training started the We Defy Foundation, which gives year-long scholarships to wounded veterans to start Jiu-Jitsu training.
"If people are inspired by what I do, then that's something good that's come out of the tragedy that has happened to me," Bozik said. "But I do it because I do it for me."