Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fight Path: How MMA saved the troubled soul of Lyle "Fancy Pants" Beerbohm

Originally posted on

Lyle Beerbohm had been in the back of his parents' car for 150 miles when the trio entered Spokane, Wash., in February 2007.

They had come from Walla Walla, Wash., where the elder Beerbohms collected their son from the Washington State Penitentiary, the 540-acre complex that had been Beerbohm's home for a year. It was a derailed path to drugs and other crimes that led the former high school wrestling star to the one-year stay, but a new path was about to begin.

The car turned onto Francis Avenue. Beerbohm looked out the window and spotted a sign for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Spokane, and he quickly asked his father to detour into the parking lot.

The stop began a two-year journey that has made Beerbohm one of the main up-and-coming lightweights in all of MMA. At 9-0 as a professional and 21-0 since his first amateur fight just a week after leaving prison, Beerbohm has proven to be a very quick learner, a tough man to keep down and one of the more passionate competitors onlookers can remember.

"In 23 months, you can't accomplish what I've done," Beerbohm said.

His success is even more impressive when studied through the lens of his past, which is littered with drug use and eight appearances in the Spokane County Superior Court records system.

Now the 29-year-old Spokane resident, nicknamed "Fancy Pants" for his unusual fighting shorts manufactured by his mother, is hoping to make the next step, to continue showing critics and unconvinced observers that his success isn't based on weak opponents or luck. It's based, he says, on talent, an unrelenting spirit and the ability to absorb punishment.

"I have more heart, I have a great chin, and I learn quick," Beerbohm said. "A fight is a fight, and I can win a fight. I've had plenty of them."


Beerbohm has even considered going after a clothing line as a sponsor to make him a new pair of fancy pants with the sponsor's logo, because, as manager Ken Pavia says, Beerbohm is losing sponsorship opportunities by sticking with the homemade trunks.

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