Augusta-Kickboxing-2017 World Games / by Mark Greubel

Augusta-kickboxing-2017 World Games

 

    This all started back in DEC. 5 of 2005. When I opened my academy, Greubel's Mixed Martial Arts, in Augusta,GA. The bulk of the calls at that time were "What is mixed martial arts?". America was behind the curve when it came to the world of MMA, but that would soon change. Before my gym opened I used to train with a guy named Forrest Griffin. Forrest and I became friends after a chance encounter I had with him at a local bar he was working at. We constantly searched out guys in our area that were serious about training, so naturally we exchanged numbers. We ended up working out together for a brief time. We would run, hit mitts, box at the boxing club, etc...  Soon after, Forrest won TUF season one, and the flood gates opened. My gym filled with future champions quickly and the rest is history.  

   The first year I opened we had a handful of young athletes that I had trained to get ready for the 2006 IKF World Classic. I had a brand new gym competing against some long standing established gyms that had already produced some serious champions. I was curious to see how my athletes would compete against stiff competition. That year Team Greubel came home with 5 new IKF World Classic champions! Now, I know what you are thinking... How does any of this have anything to do with the 2017 World Games? This all kind of ties in to how we got there. A competitor that was supposed to represent the USA in Croatia at the WAKO Junior world championships, KC Giwa, had to fight my fighter, Nathan Key.  KC Giwa was undefeated. He was picked to represent the United States prior to this fight. Surprisingly and was trained by his father, whom i fought and defeated in the 1999 IKF tournament. Here we were 7 years later and our pupils would compete against each other. At the time the IKF was one of the biggest kickboxing tournaments in America. Nathan ended up winning the fight unanimously and the Head Coach for WAKO USA at the time, Rob Zbilski, saw the fight. He asked if Nathan would want to take his place in the WAKO World Championships. I talked it over with Nathan and we took the invite.

Me cornering Nathan Key in the finals in 2006 at the WAKO junior World Championships in Croatia with only 10 moths of training!. The smile on Rob Zbilski's face tells you how we thought the fight was going.

Me cornering Nathan Key in the finals in 2006 at the WAKO junior World Championships in Croatia with only 10 moths of training!. The smile on Rob Zbilski's face tells you how we thought the fight was going.

   In the first match Nathan fought a very tough Russian, who by the way already had 70 fights under his belt. Nathan had only 3. He also only had only had 10 months of training, but he was trained by myself. I didn't know it at the time, but i had an incredible knack for turning seemingly ordinary people into extraordinary fighters. It was a grueling fight, but Nathan won. He then knocked out the Bosnian champion with a sidekick to the body! Finally, he had to face another Russian. This one had with 50+ fights to his credit. Nathan fought intelligently and I thought he did enough to squeeze out the win. Rob Zbilski thought so too, but the judges gave the fight to the Russian. Either way his performance given the short amount of time I had to train him solidified, in Rob's mind, my talent and skill as a coach. For many years Rob and I chipped away at building WAKO Team USA together. After a couple of years Chris Cichon, Justin Whiley, Tim Mazurcuwitz, and a few other guys joined the movement. I busted my butt training fighters, scouting talent, fund raising, documenting the trips and creating amateur video compilations of the events, along with making what seemed like endless calls and emails!! Whew! I'm getting tired just writing these memories down. Slowly, WAKO USA began building a small, but loyal following.

   For more than a decade I would travel the WORLD coaching fighters in Croatia, Italy, Poland, France, Argentina, Brazil, England, Russia, Canada, Trinidad and the list goes on.... Our national team has been 100% privately funded BY US... the coaches and competitors! Most of the other national teams have government funding helping them or major sponsorship money to attract the best talent, and more importantly... keep them. Since they don't have to come out of pocket to fight for their country, the bulk of their time is spent training and preparing for the best competition in the world. Wasting away at work to have to save every penny to afford the trip was not something some of the other teams had to deal with. Even with the financial set backs TEAM USA KICKBOXING has had some strong showings in the tournaments and have surprised many around the world. We are finally starting to see some sponsorship aid for the fighters and coaches. If our government would help with some of the costs I HAVE NO DOUBT Team USA could bring back GOLD MEDALS EVERY TIME!! Fast forward to today... WAKO has become the official sanctioning body of the World Games, and is on track to become the official sanctioning body of the Olympics. Greubel's MMA is an official training center for Team USA Kickboxing. I have become one of the Head coaches for Team USA Kickboxing. Augusta-kickboxing-2017-World Games... this is how we got here. And to think, this little gym right here in Augusta, GA. has cranked out some of the best kick-boxers in the World! 

Omari getting warmed up before his quarter final bout at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw, Poland.

Omari getting warmed up before his quarter final bout at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw, Poland.

    Of the 4 athletes that represented the United States in the World Games for kickboxing, one of them came home with a medal. Omari Boyd,of Nashville Tenn. battled his way through the bracket to make it to the semi finals. His first opponent was a former WAKO World tournament champion. Omari won! The second opponent was from Serbia, and also a World Champion. Omari lost a decision, but hurt his opponent badly enough that he could not continue. Unfortunately the rules would not allow him to progress to the finals. All in all it was an amazing experience and the talented young man that I selected for the job was the one that ended up becoming the FIRST MEDALIST EVER for TEAM USA KICKBOXING!!