Dinner benefits former MMA fighter struggling back from accidental injury
Seated on a weight bench in the fight club and gym he helped found with Blairsville's Tige McAfoos nearly two years ago, Marcus Corson is still an imposing figure.
Corson was once an up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighter who trained at and managed The Rusty Cage Fight Club on South Spring Street in Burrell Township, just outside Blairsville Borough, in the hope of joining the professional ranks. The 34-year-old Plum native was in the building for the first time in nearly a year last Wednesday.
During that span, Corson has bulked up from his fighting weight of 205 pounds to roughly 250 pounds — not because of intense strength training, but rather forced inactivity after rupturing both patellar tendons in a trampoline accident Dec. 3, 2011.
“I was looking to go pro,” Corson said. “But I'll never fight again.”
Corson spent nearly a month in a nursing home after having surgeries to repair the tendons that linked his kneecaps to his shins. On Jan. 18, he was rushed to Pittsburgh's UPMC Presbyterian hospital with a pulmonary embolism — a potentially life-threatening blood clot in his right lung.
“I had blood clots in my right lung that actually collapsed my right lung,” he said. “I was in the hospital for a week for that. I left, I came back in because I was having more pain, and they figured out I had fluid in my lungs. So, they actually put a chest tube in, which was horrible.”
He now walks with assistance from a walker, an improvement from the initial prognosis that he might never walk again but worlds away from the level of physical activity to which he had been accustomed.
“It's tough on all kinds of fronts, but I'm just happy to see he's on his feet,” McAfoos said. “That's a big step considering they said he'd probably never walk again.... He's a strong dude. He's got will power that most people don't have. You hear about that all the time, doctors saying you're not going to be able to do this or do that. I think that just motivates and drives a person.”
A multi-sport athlete for most of his life — all after open-heart surgery at age 3 — Corson poured himself into mixed martial arts after his father passed away in 2005. He started the Loos Toof Fight Gear clothing company with his brother, Jason, in 2007 and then represented the clothing brand inside the cage.
“It's a huge change what I used to do compared to now,” Corson said. “In high school I was a state swimmer, a state track runner, I played football, I did every sport imaginable my whole life. I had open-heart surgery when I was three and that's what made me start swimming. I'm used to things happening to me but always recovering, and this is something I won't recover to the fullest.”
“It's still tough,” Corson added. “I have a 7-year-old daughter and she always wants to go outside and play. I have a big back yard with hills, and just being in the grass I've got to be careful because of divots; I'm walking with a walker. It even takes a toll on her because the things we used to do compared to what I can do now, it's just rough.”
Corson had begun to walk with a cane during rehab sessions this summer, but he lost his health insurance in July and has been trying to rehab on his own since then.
“I haven't had any setbacks, but it isn't getting any better,” he said. “It's been getting worse. When I was at therapy I was starting to walk with a cane.... Now I'm back with my walker.”
While Corson navigates the paperwork and doctor's visits required to collect disability, local groups have stepped forward to help with his family's expenses. A Nov. 2 pasta dinner fundraiser benefiting the Corsons is being organized by the Penn State Greater Allegheny Psych Club and by Jamie's Dream Team, a White Oak-based charity started in 2005 by then-18-year-old Jamie Holmes. The event is set for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Murrysville Community Center.
The dinners include pasta, salad, a roll and drink and cost $8 for adults and $4 for children. Children age 2 or younger eat for free. The event will also feature a basket auction and 50/50 raffle drawings.
Deliveries to businesses are available for orders of four or more dinners. For more information, pre-sale tickets or delivery orders, call 412-377-3898.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or firstname.lastname@example.org.