Fighting His Own Battles Inside And Outside Of The Ring

By: Lauren Squires Email
By: Lauren Squires Email

He overcame the odds and now he's sharing his story with others. Local mixed martial arts fighter Joe Ellenberger was once sidelined because of a rare disease.

"It’s a lot of fun." Fun is just a small piece of the reason Ellenberger spends time here. “The ring, the cage." A graduate of Millard South High School, Ellenberger went on to wrestle in college and eventually got into mixed martial arts. “A lot more than what people see, there’s a lot of discipline involved, a lot of skills.”

In 2009, at what felt like the peak of his career, he was sidelined. “I was diagnosed with PNH.” It's a rare blood disorder that targets red blood cells as if they are bacteria and destroys them. But the news didn't stop him from fighting for his life. “I just decided you know what, this isn't the end. I kind of just made that decision from the beginning."

Thankfully, an FDA approved drug called Soliris was approved a year before his diagnosis and that meant he'd be back in no time. “I have the skills and God gave me a gift." A gift that Ellenberger will showcase for the first time in two years this weekend. “I definitely want to put on a show for the crowd and all my family and friends."

Taking the stage at Ralston Arena, fighting for so much more than a win. “For all those people, you there that need help overcoming their adversity and the perseverance that maybe they don't have and that they can look at my story and think, if he can do it, I can do it.”

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