first glance at Nick Weiss tells you that the
Omaha teen is a little different than the
average 16 year old. Watching Nick during one
of his Thai boxing classes it is quite obvious
something is very different about this
16-year-old…passion and courage.
Nick was born
with a variety of physical limitations stemming
from an unfortunate series of strokes he
suffered while still in his mother's womb. A
single kidney, one ear, deformed jawbone, and
atresia were just the physical setbacks Nick was
born with. Time will tell of the damage
done by the strokes both during and after the
pregnancy. Nick’s mother was told her son never
live past his infant years. Yet after several
operations and bouts of therapy Nick continued
to fight and defy the doctors’ odds.
almost 17, Nick is left with physical scars and
permanent limitations from his ordeal, ranging
from partial hearing loss to speech impediments
to facial palsy. Despite many setbacks Nick
hardly considers himself handicapped.
brought him to Mid-America Martial Arts in their
hometown of Omaha Nebraska in the beginning of
2008. She was concerned for her son. Nick had
been experiencing more than his fair share of
teasing and subsequent bullying, actions all too
typical of teenagers after they relegate a
seemingly weaker peer to the bottom of the
social pecking order. Unfortunately, Nick had
been forced to change schools because the banter
escalate had escalated on several occasions.
His mother naturally feared for her son. She
saw martial arts as a way to hopefully defend
himself should another such situation occur.
accompanied by his father, the soft spoken teen
has become a regular at Thai boxing classes
attending nearly every day of the week often
getting dropped off early and leaving well after
training has ended. He receives no special
treatment and often outworks other students.
His dad loves to see him pushed. "The majority
of other sports just didn't work for Nick or
they (coaches) didn't want to spend the extra
time to work with him. The people here welcomed
him like family and he immediately flourished.
As much as Nick’s enjoys the challenge and
discipline of martial arts, to me the more
important thing is Nick has found a true home
socially with the great people at Mid America."
recently experienced his first seminar with
Master Ajarn Chai hosted at the famed Minnesota
Kali Group led by Sifu Rick Faye. A group in
upwards of 60 attendees, the keen eye of the
legendary Thai boxing coach quickly spotted Nick
noticing not just his physical challenges but
his effort and work ethic. Chosen to hit focus
mitts in front of the entire group, a request
that makes many buckle from pressure, Nick took
the challenge head-on like any other his whole
life. Blasting the pads (and taking some shots
too) Nick drew an approving nod from Master
Chai. Said his holder Khru Pete Peterson "I was
so into the drill I didn't even realize Nick's
physical condition until afterward. I was
speaking with his coaches about how good he did
when they mentioned it to me. Really awesome!"
Much to the
delight of his parents, Thai boxing has done
wonders for Nick's confidence and self-esteem.
"Just the short time he has been here has been
amazing for him" says his mom. "He absolutely
loves it. It's wonderful." His academic tutor
echoes those changes, "Nick has been a lot more
focused." That isn't good enough for Nick.
Having recently passed the school's initial
kickboxing test (a 3 round test emulating Master
Chai's apprentice instructor test) Nick has been
given special permission to train with the
advanced class and is being given the
opportunity to compete in a controlled
exhibition thai boxing match in Omaha's Ring
Wars event. While many may criticize Nick's
participation it is a logical step for someone
who has only known challenge and conquers
mountains every day. His coach, Aaron Cerrone,
is quick to reassure the goal, "It's all about
Nick having a positive experience and for him to
continue growing and maturing. He works hard
but he understands this is going to require a
little more from him."
Good luck to
Nick. Better luck to his opponent who is facing
a young man full of determination and enough
heart that would make any average person a world