This weekend, there’s gonna be blood on the mats on Wall Street. This Saturday, Nov. 2, BSP, 323 Wall St., is hosting their first-ever amateur mixed martial arts event with 12 sweaty fights lined up for flyweight (130 lbs) and bantamweight (135 lbs) titles. Four men will compete through Kingston-based TNT Gym: Mike Colon (competing for flyweight championship title), Domion Gambino (Kingston High School’s former wrestling coach), Shawn Boice and David Erickson.
For those unfamiliar with the high-intensity fighting sport, mixed martial arts means the men will be locked in roughly 16-foot cages with their opponents for three rounds, employing Thai Muy boxing, wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu and conventional boxing. Fights only stop with a surrender or a knock-out. While professional MMA remains banned in this state, no such prohibition exists for amateurs.
The men have been training with TNT owner and head trainer Tom Finch, the 2005 Grapplers Quest National Champion and New York light heavyweight Chute Boxe champion, and trained under the late champ Billy Costello. Costello began boxing in the Police Athletic League program in Kingston, and welcomed Finch into the ring where he schooled him into success.
Mike Colon of Kingston, a scaleman at Millens Recyling, has been training for five years, starting simply with some friends at an ice rink in Saugerties. Colon is one of two headlining fighters on Saturday. He said he started wrestling in high school, but after college, realized he wanted something more to challenge him. Colon has competed in promotional events, winning five “Fight of the Night” awards as well as a “Locked in the Cage” flyweight title as well. Colon, who stands at 5’6” and is fighting for the flyweight title at 130 pounds, rightly bears the nickname, “Pretty Boy.”
Colon said he competes for sheer love of the competition. “It’s different and that’s what I love,” said Colon. “It’s the best feeling in the world. Adrenaline is flowing, and my nerves are at their highest, and I love the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. I do MMA because I have a passion for wrestling, I love boxing, and those are two sports with a huge completion rate. There’s nothing wrong with having butterflies in your stomach, as long as you make sure they are flying in formation.”
The men emphasized that mixed martial arts is more than a practice, or a game — it is a lifestyle. They cite the camaraderie of brotherhood as being one of MMA’s most compelling draws. The men agreed that during the eight to 12 weeks leading up to a fight, they regularly spend four hours or more a day, every day, together, including weekends. They regard themselves as a close-knit family, engaging in many aspects of life together during that time for support, right down to food-shopping.
Sean Manna is TNT’s strength and conditioning coach, working with the fighters on cardio, nutrition and strength training. For those eight to 12 pre-bout weeks, the men will strenuously train, diet and practice for up to four hours three to four times per week. “All the work is done before the fight,” said Manna. “The fight is the easy part.”
Cardiovascular training is key for endurance in fights, explained Manna, and so high-intensity, interval training such as wind sprints, weight-lifting, plyometrics, bolting, squats, burpees, running, boxing and more are drilled three to four times per week for several hours at a time. Diet is a close second in importance, since a five-pound weight difference can mean getting into a lighter weight class that will often offer the fighter a size advantage over their opponent. Finch said that in order to shed weight, he actually eats very small portions six to eight times a day, trying to make sure he feeds himself every two hours. Manna provides the men with an eating schedule, creating a stringent diet of grilled chicken and fish, brown rice and vegetables, and even goes so far as food shopping with them and cooking for them. “We are family by spilled blood, not shared blood,” said Manna. “Fighting is a team sport until the cage closes.”
Sleep, training and healthful living are the trainer’s orders, and the men are prohibited from partying and drinking while training. For the two weeks leading up to a fight, Finch said the fighters also have a “No Boom-Boom” rule, reasoning that temporary celibacy helps to act as a testosterone booster and aggression booster. “It makes us a little meaner,” said Finch. “You have to have tunnel-vision while training and getting ready for the fight.”
Finch himself will be competing the following weekend at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center.
The day after a fight, the men celebrate with “Fat Kid Day” by overindulging with the most gut-busting combinations of food north of the Mason-Dixon line, such as bacon, egg and cheese between two glazed donuts, or the “Elvis burger” topped with peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey.
Forty-two and down to fight
Shawn Boice, 42, of Kingston will be competing on Saturday as well, and for the first time will be doing so with his mother in the audience. Boice, a welder, is the oldest fighter on Saturday, and mused how he has a son nearly the same age as the men with whom he trains and fights. Boice said he was into boxing when he was young, but left boxing to race motocross. “I was partying way too much and not doing too much with myself, and this was my way to stay out of trouble,” said Boice. “Rather than going out with the guys drinking, I go to the gym with the guys. I am usually there three hours a day.” Boice said that he has always fought as a lightweight at 155 pounds, but now will be weighing-in 10 pounds less at 145 to make bantamweight. His mother has always wanted to see him fight in the ring, but health issues have always made that impossible. The Kingston venue will be her very first.