AUBURN — Athletics in the Bang family appear governed by some simple principles.

If it’s grueling, perhaps a little bit dangerous, and out of reach for a majority of the populace, it’s probably right in their wheelhouse.

Sheldon Bang won’t graduate from Edward Little High School for another month, yet he already has conquered the Ironman Triathlon, completing one in Lake Placid, New York. He’s a chip off the old block: His dad, Steve, a local surgeon, just ran the Boston Marathon in three hours, eight minutes.

Now, Sheldon is itching to find out if he shares a gene with his brothers in a different breed of endurance test. The 18-year-old will make his debut in the mixed martial arts cage Saturday with New England Fights at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

“I’m a wrestler, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to wrestle anymore in high school,” Bang said. “This is just another way to wrestle, and it’s another thing that’s kind of in our family.”

Oh, yes, indeed.

Bang will be followed into the octagon later in the evening by his brother, Steven, 21, a veteran of three amateur MMA fights.

Another brother, Shawn, also competed in the popular discipline on the local level, as did foster brother Conner Murphy.

“Being able to fight next to my brothers is awesome,” Steven Bang said. “I fought with Shawn my last fight. It’s a wonderful experience to go in there with them. It gets you all pumped up.”

When younger sibling Skyler becomes eligible to compete with NEF in about a year, another fight card likely will go off with a Bang.

“They are a very faith-oriented family,” NEF co-promoter and matchmaker Matt Peterson said. “Very devout Mormons and extremely disciplined.”

That attention to detail is apparent in their combat sports life.

When there was no outlet at EL for participating in their favorite youth sport, Steven, Shawn and Sheldon Bang, along with Murphy, started a wrestling team.

It meant a one-hour round trip five days a week to Paris, where the brothers trained with the existing team at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School to compete as independents.

“I wish we could get a real team going here, but it was definitely worth it,” Steven said.

The greatest payoff was realized this past winter, when Sheldon carved out a 7-3 decision over Julian Sirois of Skowhegan to win the 132-pound Class A title, becoming EL’s initial state champion in the sport.

“I wanted to win very badly,” Sheldon said. “I lost to the kid all year. Finally I wanted it more, I guess, and I beat him in the final.”

Still basking in the glow of that victory and considering what to tackle for his next challenge, Bang received a surprise from Central Maine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training partner Jesse Erickson — a chance to compete on the NEF card that was less than three months away.

He will confront Carl Langston, a Windham fighter with a record of 1-3.

“It’s something I’ve always had in mind. I was just waiting to turn 18. I didn’t think it would be this soon,” Sheldon said. “I’ve watched some of his fights on YouTube. I know he’s a kickboxer. That’s about it. I’ve been trying to work on my stand-up a lot more, but also keep my wrestling with me. I can always come back to that.”

Sheldon is confident that his CMBJJ training has strengthened his stand-up game enough to thrive in Saturday’s clash of styles.

There will be nerves. Steven, who will take on tough Jeremy Tyler (4-1) of Brewer, knows them well.

“You get a lot of anxiety going in there, with a few thousand people, all cheering, all staring at you,” he said. “I had to get that out of my system. I had fought in front of crowds before, but nothing like that.”

The sport teaches humility. Steven lost his first fight before putting together consecutive victories, all in a span of about six months.

He has been out of the cage for almost a year, but don’t you dare take that as a sign of diminished interest.

“It’s perfect for me. I fell in love with it. I want to take it as far as I can,” Steven said. “I did it once and fell in love. It’s exactly what I was looking for.”

Time will tell if Sheldon discovers the same passion.

The NEF rookie may take a break from the cage to continue his wrestling career — possibly at the University of Wyoming, although that isn’t etched in stone.

“I’ve always been the type of person who likes to try a lot of things,” he said.

Yes, that surely runs in the family.


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