Martial Arts Fighter and Coach, and our Disability Awareness Month Amputee Ambassador
Imagine being 5 years old, a completely healthy and 'normal' kid. Then, in the blink of an eye, a part of you is physically gone forever. Going to school and being noticeably 'different'. One moment changed everything. He was crossing the street and didn't see the oncoming truck.
Imagine being a parent of a child and hearing the words, ‘Your child has been in an accident; we have to amputate a limb.’ It is in moments like this that we discover the miraculous capacity we have as humans to adapt, endure, and overcome as individuals, and pull together as a family to figure out how to move forward.
Earl doesn't remember much about the accident, his life before, the transition, or the aftermath. He recalls knowing his father and uncle were fighting for the doctors to save as much of his leg as they could. Back in the 80's, they didn't have the technology we have now, and it was routine in cases like his - when a foot is lost, to cut up to the knee as full calf prosthetics were more common. Most of Earl's memories reflect moments of gratitude. Two things were very apparent in Earl’s upbringing. "My family never let me use it as a crutch or held me back from doing things that any other regular kid was doing." and "I looked to people on the TV and in the movies like cyborgs, people with implants, and athletes who were in worse situations than I was competing in the Olympics - and the feats they were able to perform. It left me with very few excuses. If they can go out and figure out how to do what they want to do, then I got to figure out what I want to do." It was this focus on ‘what CAN be done’ that set the tone for Earl to break so many barriers and become a true leader in his community. He loves the idea of pushing the limits and influencing contemplations and starting conversations to open minds - just like Oskar Pistorius did in 2012 for being the first amputee to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Not all disabilities are easy to identify or obvious - but in many cases like Earl’s, it can be the first thing people notice. Interestingly enough, most people that meet Earl don't even notice he has a prosthetic. Fellow Kombat Arts community member Han shared, "The first thing I noticed was that this guy is ALWAYS smiling and NEVER complaining about anything. Meanwhile, a lot of us able-bodied people are constantly complaining about our backs and stuff. It was him that was like ‘Yo, I have one and a half legs!’ as a joke and I was shocked. The fact that he has such a good sense of humor about it and I’ve never seen anyone work out so hard, especially in his situation. This guy really lives life to the fullest. He rides a motorbike!"
Earl currently works as a web designer and is a student and teacher of several forms of martial arts. It started with him wanting to lose weight and going to the gym. At the gym, he decided to try boxing classes, which led to Filipino Martial Arts and now Jujitsu. When you look at all the incredible feats Earl has overcome, it’s astonishing. And feels so big. But when you hear him break down all these achievements, you see it’s simply him constantly making the choice to at least try.
There will be things we can’t do - "But if you really wanna do something, you figure out a way to do it. And if you really can’t - you try something else.” - Earl
Show Earl support on Instagram @onefoot17 and shop our entire website with 20% off until August 1 with code Earl88 at checkout. For more information on support programs in Canada for amputees, go to https://amputeecoalitioncanada.org/.