"Even at this time I have still not found out the exact name for my birth defect. When I was younger I was told that the umbilical cord wrapped around my hand and cut off the circulation, stunting the growth, but I am not exactly sure if that was the cause or not."
Nick Palmer was born on March 19th, 1984 in St. Paul, Minnesota. His condition is a birth defect upon his right hand. Growing up in the 1980s, physical impairments were viewed differently. Everything wasn't as politically correct as it is in 2016.
Through his limb-difference, Palmer's path in life has been challenging. When you're a child, everybody seems to get along. However, the true developmental years were the ones that tested his metal. Meeting new people, starting from scratch - that's when unwanted trouble came his way.
"I had a lot of ups and downs growing up in the inner city," Nick told. "When I was in elementary school, I didn’t pay too much attention to my right hand and neither did others. It wasn’t until Junior High School that I started to feel uncomfortable and would attract extra attention that I didn’t necessarily care for. Other kids would call me names like 'nubby,' 'palms' or they would act like they have one hand in some way to make fun of me.
"Picking on me didn’t really last too long as I was the kind of kid that loved to fight. After a few fights I began to build up a reputation that I wasn’t a kid that you wanted to mess with. I wasn’t the toughest kid, but I was never afraid to stand up for myself - even if that meant getting my butt kicked in a fight for doing so."
One of the most beautiful things about a child with a limb-difference is how bliss their ignorance is to the everyday hurdles. Adaption is part of the natural process and it tends to amaze the fully able-bodied people. The case was much the same for Nick. He sat, practiced and got better, never letting his hand rule him out of physical activity.
"I can’t really think of anything that was tough for me to do," Nick opined. I always picked things up rather quickly. I even learned to tie my shoes by the time I was in first grade. I remember sitting down with my Mother and she showed how to tie me shoes a couple of times and I never looked back. It was that way for a lot of things for me..
"As a kid I loved playing physical sports. In fact, I still enjoy playing them today. When I was younger I played baseball, football, basketball and I wrestled. I was a bit of a power hitter in baseball and even made it to the all-star game with all of the best kids around my area. I became pretty good at basketball as well and I remember playing pick-up games all summer long as a kid. Football was my real passion when I was younger, though.
"There was just something about being able to lay someone out on the football field that made me feel good inside. I loved getting the ball in my hands as well. Catching the ball didn’t always come easy to me, but after a lot of practice I became one of the better receivers on my teams. I’d even say I could catch a ball better than most people with two hands. I guess I was a lot like most kids were at my age back then. We loved getting physical in everything we did and I never let having one hand hold me back."
As aforementioned, Nick was never one to shy away from physical altercations should they come his way. Through natural progression and a family connection, his journey eventually led him down the path of mixed martial arts; a path that has brought him tons of respect from fellow combatants and open doors for him in the MMA community.
"I remember fighting at a very young age and where I grew up there were a lot of local boxers that I would look up to," 'The Inspiration' revealed. "I wanted to get into boxing as a kid, but I don’t think it was something my parents understood that much and I am sure they didn’t want to see their son fighting or getting hurt. I never pushed the issue too much as a kid and was happy playing the other sports. It wasn’t until I got older and out of high school when my competing days had seemed to be over.
"I still had this fire inside of myself to compete and then my cousin Mike started fighting on the local MMA scene. I was hooked from the very first event I attended. I knew right then and there this was something I had to do. I honestly had no idea that I could actually get inside of a cage and fight another man on a local level. It was at one of my cousin's fights that the announcer had mentioned an upcoming tournament for guys that had little to no MMA training. I signed up immediately.
"At the time I was told there were a few others that had signed up as well," the lightweight continued. "I started working out and training for a fight right away. By the time the tournament was approaching and getting closer I was told that the others that had signed up for this tournament had backed out. The guy putting the show on knew how bad I wanted to fight and that I had been training and so he asked if I wanted to fight a guy with a little bit of experience. I accepted the offer immediately. I had this plan in my head that I was going to go out there and either knock this guy out or I was going to catch him in a guillotine.
"Well, my plan didn’t quite go as planned. My lack of experience and training didn’t really get me too far. I went out there and was going to hit this guy with a left hook from hell, but he shot in and took me down right away. I did not expect that at all. I did get my arms around his neck for a guillotine, but I had no idea how to finish it. Knowing that I was going to blow out my arms if I just hung on, I decided to let go and try getting up. As I did that I turned and gave up my back and was suplexed and put in a rear naked choke. The moment I thought about tapping it was already too late and I remember waking up on the mat wondering why I was 'resting.'"
Nick's always been athletic. In his youth, he was a MVP football player and took first place in a state wrestling tournament at ten-years-old. As far as MMA goes, Nick's career may not have started on the right tracks, but his commitment to improve and rebuild was reward. After losing five straight fights, Palmer went on a six-fight winning streak with five of those wins coming by way of stoppage in the first round. Three were KO’s. Not just that, Palmer would go on to win Knockout of the Year for Minnesota in 2013.
For the Minnesota-native, what the future holds is seemingly blurry. He remains in the same circle, although he feels that circle is expanding as he broadens his knowledge in all areas.
"I am not sure what the future holds for my fighting career as I have dealt with a number of injuries and have since started judging MMA fights," Palmer divulged. "I just started getting back to training and right now I am focusing most of my time trying to become a world class jiu jitsu practitioner. I am hoping to finish out 2016 with a few fights, but I'll be returning to the ring on August 26th at the Cabooze in Minneapolis. I'll be competing in a kickboxing match versus Meynardo Salinas-Rios, who fights out of Ignition at 170lbs. I'm excited for that fight. However, when I do hang up the gloves, I will still continue to train in MMA with hopes to become a great MMA judge in hopes of one day being able to judge fights for the UFC or Bellator."