Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet of the 20th century, once said, “Someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only life and reality: the female human being.”
That quote can be applied easily to Sarah “Too Sweet” Alpar, a trailblazing mixed martial artist fighting for Extreme Martial Arts with Ty Garrett.
Being an MMA fighter was not always in the plans, however. At Tascosa High School in Amarillo, Texas, Alpar was a standout wrestler who was talented enough to be named an All-American and received the Wrestling Memorial Scholarship worth $4,000, which she used to attend Oklahoma City University the following year.
Joe Stafford, Alpar’s coach during her senior year at THS, said it didn’t make sense that a person as good-natured, kind and willing to serve other people could be as competitive as she was in a sport like wrestling.
“She likes to test herself,” Stafford said. “People who sometimes walk around in a real pleasant, unassuming way have a tiger inside of them. I think she likes unleashing that, not just in MMA, but in that year I coached her as well. Sarah has no problem putting the pedal to the metal and giving all she’s got.”
“I wanted to be an Olympian,” Alpar said. “It was a far-fetched goal, but I was willing to work towards it. I went to Oklahoma City University for a year and tried to pursue that. I stuck it out a whole year, but there was a lot of pain to it – I struggled [with injuries].”
Alpar dislocated her shoulder, had her tonsils removed and was diagnosed with MRSA infections immediately afterward, developed a kidney stone and even a minor eating disorder in order to keep her weight in check through all the injuries.
She returned home for the summer after that one year at OCU, and about two weeks before the fall semester of 2010 began, Alpar decided she could not go back to school.
It wasn’t because OCU was a terrible place to go to school, or that she wasn’t getting along with her teammates, coaches and fellow students, but it was a place that overall had just become unpleasant to her. So many things had happened to her, both physically and emotionally, that she could not associate the area in a positive light anymore.
“I think it was a mix of a lot of things,” Alpar said. “I felt like, just through everything that went on there, I lost who I was and my self-esteem was shot. I just wasn’t myself. I had my teammates, and I love them to death to this day, but I just felt out of place.”
She got a job as a waitress and decided to start taking up jiu-jitsu at the Martial Arts Athletic Center in Amarillo that fall, where her coach, Mike Lister, asked her to start doing some stand-up fighting. Not long afterward Lister asked Alpar if she wanted to participate in her first kickboxing match. She joyfully accepted.
Alpar notified her parents of her first upcoming amateur kickboxing match, but they were not very pleased to hear the news.
Andrew and Candy Alpar are not the normal type of parents you would imagine an MMA fighter having – they are both optometrists. They knew the physical risks Sarah was going to be taking, and Candy let her know about it immediately.
“We were very much in favor [of her wrestling],” Candy said. “She pretty much started the girls wrestling team at Bonham Middle School, because there was no girls’ wrestling team, but they asked for wrestlers and she was the only girl that showed up.
“[When she first told us about kickboxing], I thought of the ending of the movie ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ She’s gonna get hurt, she’s gonna get concussed. In general we are supportive, but we are worried she’s gonna get hurt. We are proud of her for being a trailblazer, but we are still educated parents and we are worried.”
Just like that, after a whirlwind of about a year and a half, Sarah’s MMA career was about to begin.