By: Kalle Oakes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Lewiston, Maine (February 9, 2017) – Championships have played a defining role in Ryan Glover’s young life.

That tradition dates back to his junior year at Mountain Valley High School, when Glover achieved the rare double of a team state championship in football and an individual heavyweight wrestling title in the space of three months.

He has continued that tradition as a mixed martial artist, winning the New England Fights light heavyweight amateur strap in only his fourth career foray into the cage.

Growing up in blue-collar Rumford and Mexico also taught Glover that sports aren’t everything, however. That is why his initial title defense against Victor Irwin at “NEF 27: Resurgence” will be his first appearance in the hexagon in 53 weeks.

Glover-Irwin will headline the amateur segment of an ambitious card Saturday, February 11 at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

“I was on the road in Florida and Virginia a lot for work all summer and didn’t have time to train with the guys I usually train with,” Glover said. “You have to pay the bills before you can go do this stuff. This is just for fun. I hope (Irwin) knows I’ll be prepared for this one.”

Once the opening bell tolls, Glover (3-1) will have experienced more title bouts in the cage than non-title trials. He also battled in an unforgettable slugfest for the NEF amateur heavyweight belt, one that went to his opponent in that fight by a close but unanimous decision.

His experience is one of the reasons Glover envisions a triumphant return.

“He’s a good athlete, but a young kid who doesn’t have any experience beyond the first round,” Glover said. “When I had my first title fight, that was my first time going into a second round and I was kind of dead in the water at that point.”

Glover won the title with a second round submission via arm lock over Mike Williams.

That rapid ascent through the New England heavyweight ranks so early in his career shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed Glover’s athletic achievements. He has always been ahead of the usual learning curve.

As a junior on an undefeated 2010 Mountain Valley football powerhouse that featured senior standouts Cam Kaubris and Christian Durland, Glover’s work at linebacker was so impressive that he was named the Lewiston Sun Journal player of the year.

“It helps,” Glover said of his gridiron background. “I’ve seen some of the biggest venues there are when it comes to high school sports.”

State wrestling finals packed in two of Maine’s most hallowed indoor sports facilities – Augusta Civic Center and the old Bangor Auditorium – during Glover’s four years on the mat.

Glover made the jump from the 215-pound class to 285 his sophomore year, even though he tipped the scales far beneath the limit. It was a tradition started by Berserker’s MMA stablemate and fellow NEF star Mike “The Mustache” Hansen about six years earlier.

“Mike was kind of the guinea pig for wrestling against those bigger heavyweights,” Glover said. “That’s the way (Coach) Gary Dolloff sold it to me. I remember him saying that the reason he decided to try that with me was because Mike had been successful at it. And of course he was right, because we got a state championship out of it.”

Senior year didn’t live up to that junior promise. Illness and injury conspired to keep Glover from defending both the football and wrestling titles.

“I was ranked No. 1 going into my senior year and got sick,” he said. “That just goes to show that sometimes life gets in the way.”

Glover didn’t follow the college track, opting for the work force instead, and it seemed that his sports days were over.

He tried auto racing for a while, then turned to boxing and MMA training to get back in shape. That led to his debut in February 2015, followed quickly by three more cage fights and an amateur boxing match for good measure.

Only when his work commitments returned to the River Valley this past fall did Glover consider getting back into the cage. Family obligations came first, he said. And yes, pride in the name he’s made for himself over the years was a factor too.

“It’s definitely a sport where you can get hurt if you try to do it (halfway), especially against an opponent like I’m fighting,” Glover said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s as good at wrestling as I ever was, maybe even better.”

Family and friends in the close-knit, upstart Berserkers camp have Glover better prepared than ever. Ryan’s brother, Matt, also has two NEF appearances to his credit.

“I’ve been rolling with my brother and other guys who are 250 or better,” Glover said. “It’s a game-changer. I feel like I’m lot more of a scrambler than (Irwin) is. And especially where I’ll be cutting weight to get to 205, I’ll have the strength advantage.”

He might enjoy one other distinct advantage: Fan support.

Name recognition has its privileges. Or perhaps it is a case of Glover’s absence making his fans’ hearts grow fonder. In any case, his fight is shaping as one of the most anticipated attractions at NEF 27.

“Right after I took the fight I sold 50 tickets by myself,” Glover said. “When my song comes on, I know the place is going to blow up. Young’s (of Bangor) always brings a big crowd, so we need that support.”

The opening bell for “NEF 27: Resurgence” on February 11 is set for 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and are available at www.TheColisee.com or by calling the Colisee box office at 207.783.2009, extension 525.