Former MMA fighter wins primary, aims to be first indigenous woman in Congress
Ho-Chunk nation member Sharice Davids started fighting in 2006; she went 5-1 before turning pro in 2013 and going 1-1. Davids retired after failing to make the extremely-competitive cut for The Ultimate Fighter 20: A Champion Will Be Crowned, which produced the inaugural UFC women's strawweight champion.
Now she's in a tougher fight.
On Wednesday, Davids became the Democratic nominee in the Third Congressional District in Kansas. Now she faces well-funded incumbent Representative Kevin Yoder (R). Davids beat five other Democratic nominees, including Brent Welder, who earned support including campaign rally appearances from two stars of the progressive left, former presidential candidate and current Federal Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic nominee in New York’s 14th Congressional District Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
A typical political campaign video is full of vacuous smiles balanced with grimaces meant to convey gravity, that more accurately convey constipation. Davids' campaign video is as real as it gets, in a fight gym.
"It's 2018, and women, Native Americans, gay people, the unemployed, and underemployed have to fight like hell just to survive," says Davids, as transcribed by Jordyn Kraemer for Elite Daily. "And it's clear: Trump and the Republicans in Washington don't give a damn about anyone like me or anyone that doesn't think like them. That's why I'm running for Congress."
If elected, the 37-year-old Democrat will join Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R) as a former MMA fighter, and will doubtless back his efforts to organize MMA fighters. However, she will stand out in other regards, as the first openly gay representative from Kansas, as one of the few LGBTQ members of Congress, and as one of the first female Native American in Congress. New Mexico Democratic nominee Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, could also be elected in November.
"When people see a black woman or a native woman or a Latina or an LGBT person, it should be part of the norm that they look and see a leader," she explains.
Her life as a mixed martial artist and her current pursuit are intimately linked.
"You learn to fight so you don't have to fight," she said to Kraemer. "It's discipline. It's learning how to push yourself past a lot of barriers that you create in your mind."
"I felt like I would regret it at the end of my life if I didn't at least try to get into the UFC. If I didn't do something at this time in history, at the end of my life, I would certainly feel regret."
"I definitely feel a sense of pride that it's even a possibility."
Davids' life story is inspirational. The daughter of a single mother, she was raised on military bases across the country, and eventually earned a law degree from Cornell. She has dedicated most of her professional life to economic development in Native American communities in a number of capacities including corporate law, managing a community development corporation, entrepreneurship, nurturing entrepreneurship in a high school, and as well as served as a White House Fellow in the Obama administration.
Davids latest fight is tough. As of 7/18, Yoder had $1,793,422 campaign cash in hand, while Davids has $127,758.
Still, the fighter is undaunted.
"The more times people question what I'm doing, the more I see that it's exactly what I should be doing," she said.