Tonight I came across an article I wrote for MNMMANEWS.COM just about a year ago. It was a piece about Nick as a fighter despite his condition that leaves him with only one fully formed hand. I want to share this article again because it is certainly timeless. I think it can uplift readers as much now as it did when it was published.
Also, soooo much has happened in this past year when it comes to Nick’s fight career! My intention is to cover a story on Nick again, probably around the one-year anniversary of my last story. Around that time I’m thinking he’ll have returned home from his first pro fight, in Brazil (holy crap people!!) and have his first boxing fight under his belt as well.
Read this story. It is worth it. Never say “can’t” and teach your children the same!
RETRO! APRIL 15, 2012
It is fight night in Minneapolis, and 28-year-old Nick “The Inspiration” Palmer steps inside the cage. Nobody notices that this fighter is going to need to fight a little differently. Round one starts and goes the distance. During the break, comments can be heard here and there in the crowd, “What’s with his right glove?” This is when they begin to notice…he has no right hand.
Palmer was born with a condition called symbrachydactyly, which is characterized by a hand that initially forms in the shape of a paddle, and one or more fingers fail to form properly. In Palmer’s case, all fingers are missing and small nubbins of flesh are in their place. In a sport where hand usage is a major component, this raises questions for fans as to how this affects his fighting.
“I do get asked about my hand quite a bit,” said Palmer. “A lot of people are just curious about it. I get asked questions like, do I have any pain in my right hand, or if I have any feeling at all, and how it happened.
“I do have feeling and I don’t have any more pain in my right than anyone else would after punching someone. I don’t have knuckles or too many bones to break, so I guess for striking purposes, I am better off without a right hand.”
Palmer is not a rookie when it comes to sports. A State Champion Wrestler at age 10, he also played baseball, basketball and football. “The first sport I fell in love with was football,” shared Palmer. “My older brother Dan was an all-star running back in Minneapolis and I wanted to be just like him.
“I played football from the age of 10 until I was a sophomore in high school. At the age of 14 or so I was voted team MVP for football.” Palmer was also captain of his baseball teams, as well as earning a position on the all-star team. And this is where his fight nickname, “The Inspiration”, comes from.
“I have been told I am an inspiration for a majority of my life. People are amazed at how well I have played sports and done basic things like tying my shoes,” said Palmer. “I think its cool that people look at me as an inspiration. If I can inspire someone to do something great, then I think that is the best thing about being who I am.
by Sandy Hackenmueller
“I never consider my condition a ‘handicap’. Sure, there are things I have to do a little differently, and there may be some things I can’t do at all. But, at no point do I ever think my condition is a ‘handicap’. There is always another way of doing things and it’s just up to me to figure it out.”
And that is exactly what Palmer is doing as he trains with North Branch MMA/Team Discipline in North Branch, MN. “It really is a dream come true for me to be a fighter. Growing up I was told I couldn’t do it because nobody knew what I would do about a glove, or they just didn’t think a guy with one hand should be fighting.
“So, every time I step in the cage or ring I am truly honored. Being part of something way bigger than I will ever be means the world to me. When I look back at guys that have fought before me or continue to fight, being part of that, is so unreal to me–I have so much respect for this sport.”
Palmer has been training in MMA for almost two years. “My first fight was May of 2010 and that fight was originally supposed to be a tough-man type tournament for guys with no serious training experience. At the time, I was told eight people signed up for this tournament, only to back out later on. I was then asked if I wanted to fight a guy that actually took it seriously and trained.
“Of course, me thinking I was a tough guy, said yes. I ended up fighting Ben Bachtle and was very lucky he took it easy on me! (laughing) He took me down and I had him in a half-assed guillotine…I realized I couldn’t finish and went to stand up, and in the process gave Ben my back. He picked me up, slammed me and put me in a rear naked choke. The moment I realized I should tap, was a moment too late.
“I remember waking up on the mat and wondering why I was “resting” (laughing). The following Monday, I decided to start my training. I ended up completely dislocating my elbow and didn’t get to officially start training until about the end of June or beginning of July in 2010.”
An early concern for Palmer, finding a right glove that would fit his hand properly, is still a challenge. “I have a customized glove that my uncle made from scratch. That glove is used for my fights. I have another custom glove that I use in the gym. When sparring with 16oz boxing gloves, I have to wrap my right hand with a hand wrap, and form a ball near my wrist so that my glove won’t just fall off. I usually can get a good five rounds in of sparring before I have to rewrap it.” Palmer is currently on the search for a new glove and is hoping to have found a designer before his next fight.
Palmer plans to continue to train and fight in MMA. And at the end of it all, he wants to be remembered as someone who worked hard and never made excuses.
“I want to be remembered as the guy who never gave up and always chased his dreams no matter anyone said or did. True strength to me is being beaten, but never defeated. True strength is losing, and getting right back to work. True strength is being knocked down, but getting back up time after time. Never quitting is true strength.”