For all the strides MMA has made in reaching out to a broader fan base, it is doing so fighting mainstream media every step of the way. The national media was quick to jump on the story of Quentin "Rampage" Jackson going crazy in a huge truck. It was all over the story of Justin Eilers getting shot and killed as well as the murder/suicide of Justin Levens. But, when UFC heavyweight fighter, Antoni Hardonk saved a man from being robbed by three men at knife-point, the story was nowhere to be found.
In the media driven society we live in, I am appalled and disappointed that this story was not reported by any major media outlet. I would not expect this to be the lead story, but if Sportscenter has time to devote an 8 minute segment to competitive eating (as they did today), then they certainly can find time to acknowledge an athlete for doing something truly heroic.
All we hear as sports fans are the terrible things athletes do. As much as the media is willing to villify celebrities for anything possible, it is irresponsible to ignore a story such as this. Antoni Hardonk was in the safety of a vehicle after being accosted by three young men, saw another man being attacked by these same men, and he acted. He was able to get the situation under control and disarm the assailants.
He is a hero. He risked his life to help a man he had never met before. Why? Hardonk was quoted as saying "I believe if you can do something to help someone else, you should. We're all here and we should all try to help each other if we can. It's the right thing to do. I just did what I thought was right." If parents want an athlete their children can look up to, here he is. The problem is no one will know about it, because it is not important enough for mainstream sports media to mention it.
This is not the first time the mainstream media has buried the stories of MMA fighters performing heroic acts. In October 2008, UFC middleweight fighter Goran Reljic heard a car crash into the Adriatic Sea near his home in Croatia. He awoke from a dead sleep and while still in his boxer shorts, Reljic dove into the freezing waters, broke out the windshield of the car, and pulled both men to safety.
In 2006, Strikeforce middleweight Benji Radach was eating at a restaurant in Vancouver, WA when a robbery took place. An armed assailant was trying to rob the cash register when Radach intervened, putting the gunman in a wristlock to disarm him, and breaking his jaw with a punch from his right hand.
I do not know why the media feels the need to bury feel good stories such as these. It does not make sense to me. The media expects athletes to be role models for kids (and is highly critical of them when they are not), but when someone lives up to those standards, the story is not told. ESPN has enough space on their front page to reference the DUI citation of WNBA player Diana Taurasi but they cannot acknowledge true heroism?
Antoni Hardonk, Goran Reljic, and Benji Radach. Remember their names. You probably won't hear them anywhere else. Shame on ESPN and every other media outlet that ignored this story and others like it.