MMA fighter who faked death sentenced in armed robbery

Gladwin County (MI) Jail

Charles Rowan, a low-level MMA fighter from Michigan was sentenced to 17 ½ to 40 years in prison after having pleaded guilty to armed robbery in a bizarre caper.

The New York Times is reporting that Charles Rowan, a very low level MMA fighter (1-3 as an amateur) has pled guilty to armed robbery and been sentenced to 17 ½ to 40 years in a bizarre case in which he faked his own death to dodge a purported $80,000 drug deal.

Here's from the Times:

In August, Rowan, 26, pleaded guilty to robbing Guns and Stuff, a gun store in Gladwin County. But it was no ordinary robbery. At the time, many of Rowan's family and friends, including many mixed-martial arts fighters, thought he had died a month earlier in a car accident.

They believed his girlfriend, Rosa Martinez, when she told them that Rowan was dead - so much so that they organized benefit fights in his memory.

But the death announcement was a hoax, part of a clumsy attempt to start a new life and escape a drug-related debt that Rowan said was as much as $80,000.

On March 18, Rowan and Martinez robbed Guns and Stuff with the help of a friend, Michael Bowman. Rowan struck Richard Robinette, the 75-year-old owner of the store, with a hammer and stole eight handguns.

The Times ran an incredible long-form story on Rowan last Fall called Tomato Can Blues. Here's a taste:

Rowan's cage name was Freight Train, but he was more like a caboose - plodding and slow, a bruiser whose job was to fill out the ring and get knocked down.

He was what the boxing world used to call a "tomato can." The term's origins are unclear, but perhaps it's as simple as this: knock a tomato can over, and red stuff spills out.

Rowan certainly wasn't in it for the money. He was an amateur who loved fighting so much he did it for free.

An hour before the Caged Aggression fights began, DiPonio's cellphone rang. It was Rowan's girlfriend, so frantic she could hardly get the words out, DiPonio said. He asked her to take a deep breath, and, on the verge of tears, she told him that Rowan had crashed his car. He was being airlifted to a hospital. It didn't look good.

I have to wonder what kind of drug dealer let Rowan run up an $80,000 tab.

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