The third and final participant in the Embrace The Grind Challenge on November 28th in Gilroy, CA is “The Soul Fighter” Joe Graves (2-1-1). At PREMIER XI, it will have been a full year since Joe Graves made his PEMIER debut at PREMIER VII. A year ago, he went hold-for-hold with Timothy Thatcher (4-2-1), going from a unknown young athlete to one who many are calling a future champion.
Joe Graves’ success inside the squared circle can be attributed to his natural athleticism and willingness to absorb knowledge. Excelling at every sport he has competed in, the quiet Joe Graves is not one to boast over his accomplishments though they are ones he is very proud of.
“I am not a jiu-jitsu expert. I am not a wrestler. I am not a weightlifter. I have never tried to be great at any one thing. I have an obsession with being the best at every single thing I do,” said Graves.
That obsession led him to being a three-sport star in high school in his home state of New York. From a group of over 200 New York schools, Graves was named athlete of the year. After high school, he decided to play football in college and would become a two-time team MVP and be named to three All-Conference teams. Graves even found time to take up track and field and earn All-League and All-Conference honors. On top of all that, he was also named Outstanding Senior Athlete at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York.
Moving to Arizona, Joe Graves took up the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the premier grappling styles in combat sports. Initially signing up as a way to stay in shape, the competitive hunger soon took over and he found himself in tournaments against other high level jiu-jitsu grapplers.
The Embrace the Grind Challenge is a grueling round robin tournament. Joe Graves feels he is ready.
“How do you prepare for someone like me? In my encounters with Thatcher, I have really tried to work a style. In a competition like the Embrace the Grind Challenge, there is no style. There are only these simple but brutal truths: our bodies will be beaten, our skills will be challenged, and our minds will be broken.”
Going into this tournament, Joe Graves will be carrying a lot of emotion. This tournament was a vision of Mr. George O’Brien, who recently passed away last month. It was a heartbreaking loss for Joe. Mr. O’Brien believed in Joe Graves and, with his years around the wrestling business, was there to give him advice and support on Graves’ journey towards becoming the best in pro wrestling.
“This tournament is in honor of one of the greatest friends I’ve ever had. A man that looked out for me, pushed me, believed in me. George O’Brien is the part of my soul that loves the grind that wrestling is”.
With so much emotion going into the Embrace the Grind Challenge, losing is not an option for Joe Graves. There is mutual respect between all three athletes, but which of them will go that extra mile to secure the victory? Graves believe he is that Athlete.
“In any competitive sport in which I’ve ever participated, I went in believing the person who is willing to die is the person likely to win. Timothy Thatcher and Jeff Cobb are the two best technicians in the sport today. Both men have speed, skill, power, and work ethic. It will be an honor to battle with both of these Athletes. But how far are they willing to go? What are they willing to sacrifice? I only booked a one-way ticket to Gilroy. George wouldn’t expect anything less.”
“The Soul Fighter” Joe Graves joins Timothy Thatcher and “Mr. Athletic” Jeff Cobb in the Embrace the Grind Challenge at PREMIER XI. It all goes down live on Saturday, November 28th at the I.F.D.E.S. Lodge – Portuguese Hall in Gilroy, CA. Tickets are currently available at Showclix for just $10 and will be available at the door for $15 while supplies last.
The I.F.D.E.S. Lodge is located at 250 Old Gilroy St in Gilroy, CA. Doors open at 4:30pm, show starts at 5.
*card subject to change*