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John Esposito Jr: Adapting and persevering with a smile

You Full interview with John Esposito Jr above.

Photography and videography by Manny Fernandez and The Muay Thai Project: Each other for a brother.
There’s an old saying that often gets tossed around in the realm of martial arts and combat sports.
“Fighters fight.”
A pretty self-explanatory motto that accurately depicts what the heart of a tried-and-true warrior shows during his best or his worst moments.
For Muay Thai practitioner and fighter (Nak Muay), John Esposito Jr., that sentiment couldn’t be truer.  On December 20, 2021, he had no clue that a common workday would ultimately lead to the biggest fight of his life.
It was a normal December workday. Christmas was days away, and John Esposito Jr. and his colleagues were trying to wrap up their day by filling in the last few potholes at their job site. However, for John Esposito Jr, it would unknowingly be a day that would change how he lives forever.
Unbeknownst to Esposito, a vehicle hurled the bend of the job site of which he was working at the moment, slamming directly into the Muay Thai practitioner, and ultimately pinning Esposito between the car and a machine he was using for work at that moment.
“It was starting to get to the end of the day.  We were filling in some pretty big potholes that day if I remember correctly. So, it was around 1:30pm,” Esposito recalls. “We were cleaning out the machine and everything, we were about to pack it in and yeah, it just happened out of nowhere,” he says. 
Following the immediate impact, “I heard one of my co-workers screaming my name, but it was kind of fading out,” Esposito remembers. “I blacked out immediately,” he says following that memory.
“The amputation happened right then,” he says, due to the impact from the crash. “They actually picked my left leg up and put it onto the stretcher with me,” Esposito was told. “So, it was completely severed, he shares. “My right leg was kind of held together by some skin and flesh a little bit,” he continues to graphically but accurately details the absolute horror of his endeavor.
“The next thing I know I was waking up in the hospital that night,” He recalls.  Due to such high concerns around the pandemic, the very evening Esposito was admitted into the hospital was the last day they’d be allowing visitors into the hospital. Fortunately, he woke up as his family were leaving for the evening. “They actually called my dad and my sisters back because they just left,” he says. “So, I woke up after they just left and luckily, they didn’t even leave the parking deck yet so they came back and got to see me and everything,” says Esposito.
“When I did wake up in the hospital, it was like something out of a movie,” he remembers. “I woke up and my body was in like fight-or-flight,” he says. “They had an oxygen tube going down my whole throat and everything,” Esposito explains in detail.  “I actually ended up ripping that out of my throat, and I started going crazy. The nurses came over and started holding me down and telling me, “Relax, relax.” Truly a horrific story to recall and share from the New Jersey based Nak Muay.
Upon waking up, “I knew something was up with my legs, because I could feel it,” Esposito says. Amidst speaking with the doctor and medical personnel, Esposito recalls three daunting questions in which was burning inside of him and that he absolutely needed to know…. What in fact was up with his legs. Secondly, would he ever walk again to which the doctors replied “Yes. In time, but it won’t be the same” and the third question Esposito recalls which was instant heartbreak; “so I can’t fight anymore?” 
Possessing a never-quit attitude, Esposito is committed to adjusting, learning to adapt, and pushing forward less than a year removed from the accident.  When it would be so easy to sit and sulk, Esposito has bigger plans. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to mentally handle this accident and this situation as well as I could have if I didn’t do Muay Thai,” he says with conviction. “Because it gave me that mindset!”
“It was such an easy decision for me,” Esposito remembers. “I’m going to learn how to adapt to this,” he remembered thinking. He’s committed to “lean how to modify my life and my situation to allow me to live a life close to what I was living before.”
With a long road ahead of him, Esposito takes it in good stride and a smile on his face. “I’m still in high spirits,” Esposito expresses through a laugh. “I know I’ll get there in time,” he says with confidence. With a solid team behind him and the undying support from the combat sports community, Esposito’s story has already reached the likes of UFC president, Dana White who donated to the current GoFundMe campaign to help with Esposito’s medical coverage and getting him back to his love of fighting.
“I definitely want to get more into coaching once I’m back more regularly,” he details plans on his future. “I’m starting to try to get into the process of amputee boxing in this area because I want to get back in the ring, eventually. I feel like I just got started again so I don’t want to let it go again!” he laughs. “I just can’t be the only one!”
Tune in above to listen to this exclusive one-one-one interview with Muay Thai practitioner John Esposito Jr. As he details his horrific accident that took place less than a single year ago. Esposito details the accident, as well as his road to recovery. We share some stories about the love of the combat sports community and how it’s helped him in his time of need.  His story has traveled quickly throughout the Muay Thai community and he’s heard from many legends that want to support and show their gratitude for showing each and every one of us what it looks like to persevere with a smile!
If you feel inclined to donate to John Esposito Jr’s journey via “The Muay Thai Project: Each other for a brother”, you can do so here.


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