Fighting is my guilty pleasure. Ever since I was a child, I have loved watching fights. My fascination started with karate movies, then moved onto boxing and eventually MMA and BJJ. I would love to say my foray as a fight fan ended there, but over the past few months I’ve fallen deeper down the rabbithole and found the Youtube sensation Streetbeefs.
Streetbeefs is the brainchild of reformed convict Chris “Scarface” Wilmore, a Virginia native who grew up in unsavoury circumstances. As a child, Wilmore’s mother was a drug addict and one night a fire engulfed their home, Chris’s brother died in the blaze and while he escaped, he suffered severe burns, which bestowed upon him the scarface moniker that he has been known as ever since.
After his turbulent childhood, Scarface found violence and as violence often does, it lead him to custodial sentences. Scarface’s story could so easily have ended there, with crime, prison time and perhaps an early grave, but it didn’t. When Scarface had kids he decided it was time to make his community a better place and it was through that mindset shift that Streetbeefs was born.
After one of his friends was murdered, Scarface began to try to get young men to lace-up boxing gloves rather than pick up guns and it has been extremely successful. The Streetbeefs channel has 220 million views and their story has been chronicled by the New York Times. In their backyard fights there has been MMA matches, kickboxing and boxing, but last weekend they held their first submission grappling match.
The beauty of Streetbeefs isn’t the athletes technique. In all honesty this is largely untrained fighters just clashing toe-to-toe a lot of the time, but the message is great. Encouraging young people to drop their guns and fight instead is a positive thing. If you can’t appreciate the fighter’s talent then appreciate the pureness of their pursuit.
The debut grappling match was by no means amazing, but the fighting spirit was there for all to see. Let’s hope these guys find BJJ to be a positive influence on their lives too.