No one has to explain what tough means to Jimmy Burchfield, Jr. All of his life he has been around guys who are strong and determined, who can take and give a punch. His father Jimmy, Sr. is the highly respected fight promoter with the Rhode Island based Classic Entertainment & Sports with decades of rich history. Being in the gym, around the ring was a natural for the attorney who helps run the family business and oversaw expansion into MMA events in seamless and successful fashion.
There isn’t or hasn’t been a New England fighter who is not familiar with the Burchfield name and CES. Many of the best have been on their cards.
From world boxing champ Vinny Paziena to CES MMA champ Luis Felix and thousands in between, Burchfield has met a varied, colorful and interesting array of these tough guys who in some case beat overwhelming odds and found the common thread in all the good ones that they never dodged a challenge.
Then he learned about a fighter weighing way less than a 100 pounds; had never even been in the ring; but had made a decision that resonated with every bit the force of a knockout. He was a cancer patient who had on his own decided to forego any more draining treatments for a rare and incurable form of cancer. His time was limited but he wouldn’t confine his life. His choice, his terms, period.
This tough guy is 8 years old, Dorian Murray of Westerly, R I He and his family have touched Burchfield deeply.
“The definition of “tough guy” has certainly changed as I have gotten older and hopefully wiser. Dorian’s parents are tougher than anyone with a championship belt around their waist. I admire their courage and honesty, allowing Dorian to be a part of such an important decision making process.
“Dorian–while I can’t imagine anyone tougher, other words more accurately describe him. Brave. He is dealing with circumstances that no child should have to. Mature. His understanding of life should be the topic of a college philosophy class. Inspiration. His story has inspired so many people all over the world. All of us at CES are better because of him.”
Burchfield was introduced to Dorian’s story by ex-serviceman Jake Aiken who contacted CES about his friend who was trying to raise money for the family. Burchfield got involved, so too CES matchmaker Pat Sullivan, whose mother JoAnne had lost her battle with breast cancer. They arranged for Felix to visit Dorian. The champ gave the youngster his belt which Dorian slept with that night. That led to Dorian attending a CES event, receiving a standing ovation as he made his way to center stage just like other fighters and received his own CES belt for the unparalleled spirit of a champion that he conveys for anyone who meets him or hears about him.
“Most immediately fall in love with his adorable good looks and amazing smile,” Burchfield notes with more than a little pride. “Those fortunate enough to spend some time with him quickly see how amazing he is. His presence is bigger than the ring itself.”
Dorian had a simple request to his family, one that at first might’ve been received as more dream than reality. Dorian’s wish—to be famous; known that he existed and still is; saying “Before I go to heaven, I want to be famous in China.”
For all the daily no filtered anger and negativity that can easily be found on social media, Dorian defeated it all with his story. Quickly he became a viral sensation in his message. It was one of courage that few could fathom but struck the universal chord of basic human kindness. The essence of strength displayed in a kid from half a world away got noticed in China, nothing lost in translation. The slogan “#DStrong,” was relayed about the boy who had made a man sized decision without regrets or any of the pettiness that can absorb us in the day to day ritual of work and relationships.
In neatly printed signs or spur of the moment scribble; on large construction paper and frayed, ripped out notebook; “#DStrong” was acknowledged. Pictures surfaced of it being held on the Great Wall of China and points in between. Celebrities were overwhelmed by Dorian as well. All Pro New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski, award winning actor Bryan Cranston, singer Justin Bieber, and former UFC champ Jon Jones among those posing with the sign that quickly symbolized true toughness as Dorian’s story was passed along. From newspapers, TV shows and the Web, his story is being reported for all posterity.
Burchfield and CES brought this little warrior to the attention of the fight world. We reported it on Inside MMA complete with Bas Rutten and I holding a “#DStrong” sign. Dorian Murray is famous as he wanted, perhaps more than he could’ve imagined, and for all the right reasons. A celebration of a life that won’t be remotely close to fully lived but one that poses the question many ask of themselves: Regardless of the years what is the impact we made, did we make any difference?
Dorian made the decision no child should have to make but he did it without asking for pity, without demanding to know why he didn’t get a better deal in life. His brief story speaks huge volumes as it has to Burchfield and countless others.
“As a parent, I can’t imagine a more difficult conversation to have. Dorian, after discussing his prognosis with his parents, chose to forego further chemo treatment and enjoy his life on his terms before he goes to heaven. We all face adversity in some form or fashion. How we respond is what really matters. Dorian’s story should be a reminder to us all about what is really important–keep on fighting and enjoying life no matter what the circumstances are.”
Dorian is going to be cage side March 11 at CES 30 “we hope and pray” according to Burchfield. It is a rooting interest for us all. Especially during this week where “love” is so freely mentioned along with cards, candy and flowers, getting right to the heart of what really is important daily is to look no further than a boy who has every right to be sullen and bitter but is bright and encouraging; who is loved by those who will never have the honor of meeting him but in the smallest of ways send their wishes.
There isn’t a more profound example of toughness than Dorian Murray and the world knows him.
Got something you’re burning on? Tell the man himself on Twitter.
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