“A lot of people misunderstood what we were trying to do here,” says longtime orphan fighting advocate Roland Rockmore, a retired martial arts instructor from Only, TN. “People who aren’t familiar with orphan fighting see a couple of young kids with blades fastened to their wrists and ankles just going at it, and they think, ‘How savage!.’ What a lot of people are now coming to realize is that the blades make this whole thing a lot more humane than it might be otherwise. And the more people come to understand that, the more support we see for what we’re trying to get going here in the greatest state that ever was.”
Obviously, Orphan fighting bouts aren’t over until one parentless child dies and this has become a rallying point for activists and out-of-state agitators, including Joanie Cunningham-Fonzarelli of Milwaukee, Wisconsin who became involved while visiting relatives in Memphis.
“I just can’t understand how an allegedly pro-life legislator like Eileen Wright could be for something like this,” Fonzarelli says, leveling vague accusations at the bill’s original sponsor.
“You can’t compare apples and abortions,” Write says, dismissing the usual critics with her ever-effective catchphrase. “Just like every other man, woman, and parented child in America each and every orphan who enters the ‘ring of sorrows’ has a fighting chance.
“These kids have a choice between entering the league or traditional foster care, so it’s not like any of this is compulsory,” Wright explains. “It’s a choice and an opportunity, and when I hear what people like Roland Rockmore think Orphan fighting can do for our state it’s like when Jesus said, 'Suffer not the little children to come unto me,' you know? Sometimes we seem to forget that these orphans are just children. Children that nobody wants.”
Write says she’s heard from a lot of Tennesseans who want to see this bill passed and is confident that a professional orphan fighting league could be active in Tennessee as early as June.