By Mary Nearpass
When you think of a fifteen-year-old teenage girl from the
Northeast, you probably think she’s at that volatile age where
nothing is much more important than her looks and boys. We’ve
all been there. For me, too far back than I care to admit.
However, allow me the opportunity to introduce you to a girl
that is anything but typical.
Amanda Leve is a freshman at Archbishop Ryan High School, a
middle child of three, living with her father who is a full time
nurse. Ever since she was a little girl, she was constantly jumping on the sofa, doing push-ups and sit-ups and had boundless
energy. Her first passion was playing Catholic League softball.
She finished up her middle school career at Our Lady of
Calvary as an all-star pitcher helping her team to win back-toback undefeated seasons (30-0) and winning two Catholic City
Championships. But at the age of eleven, she saw something on
television that spoke to her, and she just knew she had to
become a part of it.
Amanda practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is a martial art and
combat sport, focusing on ground grappling, commonly used in
mixed martial arts competitions such as UFC (Ultimate Fighting
Championship). The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is
the largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company in
the world that hosts most of the top-ranked fighters in the sport
and produces events worldwide. Based in the United States, the
UFC has eight weight divisions and enforces the Unified Rules
of Mixed Martial Arts.
"Jū” can be translated to mean "gentle, supple, flexible, pliable,
or yielding." "Jutsu" can be translated to mean "art" or "technique" and represents manipulating the opponent's force against
himself rather than confronting it with one's own force. There
are many variations of the art, which leads to a diversity of
approaches. Jujitsu schools may utilize all forms of grappling
techniques to some degree (i.e. throwing, trapping, joint locks,
holds, etc.) In just a little over three years, Amanda has studied,
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practiced and performed in different competitions all over the
United States and has won numerous belts. Some of the venues
Amanda competes in are NAGA, Grapplers Quest and US
Grappling tournaments. Competitors can start as early as four
years of age. There are five divisions and weight classes that
determine each category. In each competition, there are eight
separate matches scheduled, and most participants sign up for
two maximum due to the grueling nature of the sport. However,
Amanda has taken on as many as six in one competition!
Remember, we are talking about a fifteen-year-old freshman!
Amanda trains six days per week from 6-9 p.m. at Paper Street
BJJ in Hatboro under the instruction of its’ owner, Jason
Frawley. She has trained with Jason now for almost two years
and since has become almost unstoppable. If you’d like to see
Amanda in action, go to YouTube and type in “Jiu Jitsu Amanda
Leve”. You are in for some astounding viewing. Personally, I
was mesmerized and literally couldn’t be drawn away.
Boxing is a combat sport in which two people engage in a contest using only their fists. There are two forms of boxing: amateur and professional. About two years ago, in order to improve
her cardio and strength, Amanda started to train in boxing also
with Jason Frawley.
Within the past year, Amanda, under the watchful eye of Grant
Bacon, has incorporated yet another MMA, (Mixed Martial Art)
into her repertoire, Muay Thai. Muay Thai is a combat sport
from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various
clinching techniques. It is Thailand's national sport.
The word muay derives from the mavya, which means "to bind
together". Muay Thai is referred to as the "Art of Eight Limbs"
or the "Science of Eight Limbs" because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight points of
contact, as opposed to two points (fists) in boxing. A practitioner of Muay Thai is known as a nak muay.
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Haven’t gotten exhausted yet? Neither has Amanda. Fighting
women’s and teen boy’s advance division at fourteen and also
fighting in weight classes two divisions higher than her own
(heavy and super heavy weight) Amanda’s biggest concern was
her strength. Amanda’s sport trainers decided to enlist the help
of strength and conditioning trainers from Extreme Fitness.
After training two times per week with one of Extreme Fitness’s
top personal trainers, Bryan Thomas, Amanda hasn’t lost one of
her advanced women’s matches. She has beaten many women
in their twenties as well as almost all the boys she has competed
strength and sensory acuity, I believe that the road Amanda has
chosen provides the perfect backdrop for developing the skill
and determination needed to succeed throughout her life. Not
only is she learning specific techniques, she clearly is building
character through inner-strength, courage, vision, respect, and
Mary M. Nearpass
In order to produce the kind of results Amanda wants to
achieve, her nutrition has also been reviewed and revamped by
her trainers across the board. Amanda not only has to eat top
quality foods frequently throughout the day, but she has to get
the proper quantity in order to be functioning at her fullest
capacity. Protein shakes are a staple each night before she goes
So let me walk you through a typical week of training schedule
for Amanda Leve: Monday through Thursday, (Friday is her
day of rest and Saturdays and Sundays are killer days). She
awakens at 4:30 a.m., goes to Retro Fitness with her dad and
either lifts weights or does cardio. She comes home, showers,
eats breakfast and is off to a full day of high school classes. By
the way, Amanda makes the honor role every marking period.
She has her dinner early, completes her homework, hangs with
her family, and trains for three more hours, encompassing Jiu
Jitsu, Boxing, Muay Thai and personal training over the course
of the six days. And I sometimes have a hard time getting
myself to hit the pool, the yoga mat, lift weights or take an
occasional spinning class! Just think of Amanda the next time
you need a little motivation!
What drives Amanda? Her ultimate goal is to do Octagon Cage
Fighting when she is eighteen. (You can view this on Fox channel any Friday night). Octagon Cage Fighting falls under the
umbrella of the UFC.
The UFC stages bouts in an eight-sided enclosure officially
named "The Octagon". The UFC cage is an octagonal structure
with walls of metal chain-link fence coated with black vinyl and
a diameter of thirty-two feet. The fence is five feet, eight inches
in height and sits atop a platform four feet from the ground. It
has foam padding around the top of the fence and between each
of the eight sections. It also has two entry-exit gates opposite
each other. The mat, painted with sponsorship logos and art, is
replaced for each event. Amanda’s dream is to some day be
standing next to Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator,
Joe Rogan, receiving applause for winning the heavy weight
We all know the old saying that looks can be deceiving. When
I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda, I found an attractive,
soft-spoken, shy, young woman who presents herself with a
quiet confidence. In addition to gaining incredible physical
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