UFC’s Ben Rothwell pleads for compassion amid unrest following Kenosha shootings

The events of the past week in Ben Rothwell’s home town of Kenosha, Wis. have put the town and its people in the national news spotlight, and the UFC heavyweight has used his social media account to offer messages of support and compassion following the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, and the events that followed.

Blake was shot in the back by officers and was left paralyzed from the waist down. It is currently unclear whether his injuries are permanent.

The incident sparked demonstrations both in Kenosha and in other cities across the country, with 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse charged with killing two protesters in the city during the unrest.

Rothwell (38-12 MMA, 8-6 UFC) owns and manages a gym in Kenosha, Rothwell MMA, which offers coaching for adults as well as children as young as five. The gym prides itself on being a family to those who use it, and the 38-year-old extended that ethos to his approach to the turbulent times currently occupying his home town.

Rothwell shared a picture message to his followers on Instagram titled, “For my ‘all lives matter’ friends,” with the accompanying message: “I found this really helpful, I hope we can come together and have some understanding. Listen-Learn-Apply.”

Rothwell’s post was met by a mixed response, but the 38-year-old followed up with a second Instagram post, where he articulated his views even more clearly and called on people to be more compassionate to each other.

“I do not support organizations, violence, or destruction,” he wrote. “I support the movement for change. I’m just trying to support my friends and have a better understanding of what people are going through and why they feel what they do. I’m looking for unity and instead I see nothing but division.

“I had many great conversations that brought me here, all I ask is everyone bashing me should go and speak with others to understand what they are going through and why they feel what they are. Listen, be compassionate and see if you feel differently after. #unity”

Rothwell is scheduled to face Marcin Tybura at the UFC’s Oct. 10 event, which is expected to take place on “UFC Fight Island” at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

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