Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at
ORLANDO — Belleview
High School's Ashley Helsel took second place in the 112-pound weight
bracket in Orlando at the girls state wrestling championship.
wrestled in 4 matches winning her first 3 then losing her final match
to a split decision.
quickly pinned her first two opponents and beat her third by the
judges' decision. However, in a split decision, she lost her fourth
wrestling: The Forest wrestling team placed runner-up in the Orange
Park Duels ending their regular season at 11-8. The Wildcats beat
Fleming Island 34-46, Bradford 72-6 and Camden County 57-24 but lost to
Orange Park 23-45. Forest will travel to Winter Springs Feb. 6 for
Results: 112—Thomas Keith, 3 wins, 1 loss;
125—Joshua Keith, 4-0; 130—George Byrd, 3-1;
140—Randy Albany, 3-1; 152—Ethan Pittman, 4-0;
215—Zach Prine, 3-1; 285—Ricky Carter, 4-0.
By Jason Groves/Sun-News
12:00:00 AM MST
Keilan Guillermo, a female wrestler of team Bliss,... (Photo for the
Sun-News by Robin Zielinski)
LAS CRUCES — Alexia
Romero hopes to continue wrestling until she's "at least 12."
Romero was one of approximately
730 youth wrestlers who competed in the New Mexico National Showdown
tournament at the Pan American Center on Saturday.
Romero reached the consolation
semifinals of the 80-pound bracket in the rookie 10-12 year old age
Saturday's tournament provided
the Valley View fourth grader with more competition than she is
typically used to. But she didn't mind.
"I like that I don't spend a
lot of time wrestling other girls," she said.
Wrestlers on Saturday ranged
from six to 15 and there were several classes based on experience and
Romero's club team, the North
Valley Trojans, were one of 28 clubs that competed. Teams and
individuals from New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana,
Texas and Utah came to the Pan Am.
But Romero came to continue
competing in the sport that she has fallen in love with.
"My cousin Marissa wrestled and
I wanted to try it out and I loved it so I kept wrestling," Romero
North Valley Trojans coach Mike
Sullivan's club entered 31 wrestlers in Saturday's tournament. Through
Saturday's early rounds, the Trojans had three first-place finishers in
Maeceo Rodriguez, Parker Moranville and JC Mendez.
The Trojans and other local
clubs spend their weekends competing in El Paso and Silver City from
November through February.
"We want to provide a positive
activity for kids and promote the sport in the area," said
Sullivan, who has coached the club since 1998. "Our goal is to teach
the kids the fundamentals."
Saturday's tournament was the
first time the Rocky Mountain National series held an event in New
"Baseball and softball have
regional or national tournaments in Las Cruces," Sullivan said. "It's
great to have something on the regional or national level in wrestling.
I appreciate them for coming down here and the effort from all the
youth clubs in town."
Tournament director Ed Desbain
said the Denver based Rocky Mountain National series liked Las Cruces
as a destination to host one of the 18 tournaments the series
"We looked at the market and it
felt right to do it here," Desbain said. "The Better Business Bureau
reached out to us. We knew that going as low in New Mexico, with the
right facility, we could draw a lot of Texas teams."
Wrestlers competed for a belt
or a medal depending on where they placed. They wrestled for other
reasons as well.
For 14-year-old Raven Lara, he
wanted to stay in shape.
"I am in my third year
wrestling," said Lara, who wrestled for third in his bracket. "It's
really athletic and I play sports year around so it's good for staying
Kramer Moore was one of 25
wrestlers from the Las Cruces Youth club in the tournament.
Moore won the fifth-place match
in his bracket 15-9. Moore wrestles at the club level to improve for
high school, where he wrestles at the junior varsity level at Las
"I'm just here to have fun," he
said. "I'm on the (LCHS) team right now but I want to get stronger for
Jason Groves can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org;
10:14:26 PM PST
COVINA - The San Gabriel Valley
lived up to its reputation as the birthplace of girls high school
wrestling at the 2010 CIF Girls Southern Regional on Friday and
Saturday at Northview High School.
West Covina had two individual
champions in Samantha Ortiz at 114 pounds and Alyssa Luna (118). West
Covina, Northview and Baldwin Park finished third, fourth and sixth,
respectively, in the team standings as Pacifica edged Pioneer Valley,
177-176, for first place.
The event is the unofficial CIF
State Championship for Southern California. Next year's event will
serve as a qualifier in which the top eight finishers in each weight
class advance to a state meet against schools from Northern California.
Ortiz, only a sophomore, won
her match by fall at 3:03 over Cynthia Sanchez of Pioneer Valley. Ortiz
is 18-0 against girls this year and just won the Monrovia boys
frosh-soph tournament two weeks ago.
"I used a double-wing move to
get the pin," Ortiz said. "My dad is a coach and I've wanted this
Luna, a junior, entered the
tournament with a 20-0 record against girls. She dominated her match
until she pinned Amri Mojica of Lancaster for the 118-pound title.
"I knew I could do it," Luna
said. "I didn't place the last two years so I just dedicated my life to
this all year long and it paid off."
The Bulldogs had five other
placers in Justine Stewart at 98 pounds, Siobahn Esquerra (108),
Jessica Vasquez (132), Brenda Gonzalez (189) and Marie Ramirez (235).
Sergio Ortiz, a graduate of
Baldwin Park High School, is the father of Samantha and has been an
assistant at West Covina for the last five years.
"It's a great feeling to have
Samantha win," he said. "I work with both boys and girls. They all work
"The only differences are the
girls seem to wear their feelings (on their sleeves) a lot more and
they smell better."
Northview didn't have an
individual champion but did have two runners-up in Valerie Hernandez at
235 pounds and Brazel Marquez at 122. Other medalists included Vanessa
Gomez at 103 pounds and Joanna Navarro (126).
Baldwin Park, which has made
major strides in girls wrestling in the last few years, boasted
medalists in Daisy Mendez at 118 pounds, Natahalie Altamiranos (122)
and Vanessa Gonzalez (132).
"We placed three girls,"
Baldwin Park coach Raul Tapia said. "That is better than expected, but
it was really exciting to have all 11 here on the second day."
"The level of female wrestling
has grown," Northview coach and tournament director David Ochoa said.
"Girls don't compete in boys meets so much anymore. We have our own
girls teams and there is a a full schedule of girls tournaments.
"There are a lot of
opportunities for girls to get college scholarships as there are new
college programs starting every year."
Other local medalists included
Jessica Maag of Covina at 126 pounds, Brianna Munoz of San Dimas and
Veronica Lopez of Bassett at 138, Ashley Montellano, a 165-pounder from
Diamond Ranch and Angie Lazcano of South Hills and Angelica Curiel of
South El Monte at 235.
Tim Jean/ Staff
Whittiers Shannon Constantine, right, battles against Brooklines Jerry
Phok during the Haverhill Wrestling Tournament at Haverhill High
School. Saturday, January 9, 2010
captured two of three in a home quad-meet with its only loss a 42-39
setback to Billerica. Jake Tannian remained on a roll with three wins
at 160, Amesbury's Nick Predki was 3-0 at 171 and Steve Surette was 3-0
Constantine took three forfeits at 103 even though two teams had
opponents who could have gone on the mat.
Haverhill, which was 0-2 on the day, Paris Williams (130), Isaiah
Williams (189) and heavyweight Terrance Jean-Jacques all won both of
wins 3 of 4 meets
Shannon Constantine (W) 3-0; 112: Travis Yell (W) 2-1; 125: Shane
Surette (W) 2-1; 130: Paris Williams (H) 2-0, George Katsaros (W) 2-1;
145: Jake Morton (W) 2-1; 152: Steve Surette (W) 3-0; 160: Jake Tannian
(W) 3-0; 171: Nick Predki (W) 3-0; 189: Isaiah Williams (H) 2-0; 215:
Jared Shennet (W) 3-0; HVY: Terrance Jean-Jacques (H) 2-0
second at 15-team tourney
Kristi Garr (103 lbs.) at the Lapeer West quad last week. HARTLAND
— In an event
where the host school took the championship with a whopping 293 points,
the only question was which squad would win the race for second place
at last Saturday’s Hartland Invitational, a spot the Goodrich
varsity wrestling team claimed with a score of 125.5. Coming in third
for the day was Belleville at 122, followed by Bay City Central
(114.5), Lake Fenton (113), Petoskey (97.5), Fenton (77), Lapeer East
(75.5), Ann Arbor Pioneer (71.5), Fruitport (71), Hartland B (65),
Allen Park (61), Fowlerville (39), Grosse Pointe North (31.5) and
The Martians wound up with
three titlists for the tournament, including Kristi Garr, who had two
byes before pinning Hartland B’s Devon Chalut in 3:53 and
outlasting Hartland’s Alec Bain 3-1 to secure herself a
first-place finish. For Parker Lovell (171), his road to glory was
littered with a lot more obstacles, sticking Bay City
Central’s Mike Meeth in 2:57 and Hartland B’s
Garrett Mackey in :35, before taking consecutive 11-4 decisions over
Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Justin Pose and Petoskey’s Zach
other first-place finish was Jarred LaBelle (189), posting 15-0, 7- 6,
and 3-0 decisons over Allen Park’s Tyler Hill,
Fruitport’s Travis Chorny and Hartland’s Sean
Wright after dismissing Nick Long of Hartland B in 73 seconds. Not far
behind for the Martians was Evan Grzecki (125), beating
Belleville’s Casey O’Keefe, 10- 2, and Bay City
Central’s Tyler Lemke in 3:31 before losing to
Hartland’s Nick Monitz, 11-3, to come in second.
Cody Petit (119) was also among
the placers for Goodrich, coming in fourth with losses to
Belleville’s Brendan Papin and Fruitport’s Tyler
Pastor after besting Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Keegan Pape in 91
seconds and Hartland’s Keith Boldt, 13-11. With a secondround
loss to Fruitport’s David Juarez in 5:27 after a roundone
bye, Bryce Montgomery (140) was the Martians’ final
championship represenative, getting the better of Bellville’s
Canter Sherman, Allen Park’s Brad Ferguson and
Belleville’s Kyle Skotak to the tune of 5-0, 10-1, and 5-0.
With the win, Hartland moved up
from the on-deck circle and took over the top spot in Div. 1, according
to michigangrappler.com. The
site also lists several Martians among the top 10 individuals for their
respective Div. 3 weight classes, including LaBelle, who holds the
fifth spot at 189 lbs. as of Dec. 9, 2009. Lovell and Garr are the
squad’s other ranked grapplers, holding down the 10th spot at
171 and 103 lbs, respectively.
Goodrich competed last Tuesday
at the Rochester Adams quad meet. GRAND BLANC
The Bobcats were at Romeo for a
team duals tournament last Saturday, losing to Oxford, 61-9, Richmond,
64- 12, Romeo, 47-24, and Wyandotte Roosevelt, 40-36. Grand Blanc also
beat Saginaw, 66-6.
“We are off to a real
slow start, but we are hopeful that we will turn things
around,” said coach Scott Turnbow “We are searching
for some leadership within the team, and a few leaders are beginning to
emerge. Hopefully, they will take this team in the right
On Dec. 9 the Bobcats were at
former Big Nine rival Flushing for a quad meet, losing to Bangor John
Glenn, 56- 24, but beating Genesee Area Conference rival Byron. The
Raiders also lost to John Glenn, 51-21, but defeated Byron, 42-31.
Grand Blanc also has several
wrestlers listed in the top 10 for their Div. 1 weight class, including
fourth-seeded Jay Banks (103), Christian O’Guinn (130) and
Drew Morris (152) are both seventh and Chad Cook (285) came in ninth.
The Bobcats take the mat
Saturday at Davison at the Genesee County Invitational
103 - Kristi Garr
(Goodrich) DEC 3-1 Alec Bain (Hartland)
grappler on track to 2012 London Olympics
30, 2009 - Goodrich- At
about five-feet tall and just over 100 pounds, CC Weber could easily be
overlooked in a crowded room. But given her relentless desire to
succeed in Olympic wrestling, an event just a few years ago closed to
women, she stands shoulders above many.
||CC Weber (click
for larger version)
Weber, a 2009 Goodrich High School graduate, relocated to Colorado
Springs, Colo. last summer and now practices at the U.S. Olympic
Training Center while taking classes at the University of Colorado. At
the time of the move, Weber was near the top of a short ladder to make
the U.S. Olympic Team and compete in the London Summer Games in August
2012. She will wrestle at the 105.5 pound weight (48 Kilos) division.
"I have the ability to do this," said Weber. "I have a lot of work
ahead of me and need the two-and-a- half years leading up to the
Olympics. You have to believe in yourself and what you can really do."
Weber may already have an edge.
Weber defeated 21-year-old Wisconsin native Alyssa Lampe (1-0) and
currently, Clarissa Chun, a 28-year-old wrestler from Hawaii who placed
fifth in the 2008 Olympics, is injured. Both wrestlers were on the
short list of Olympic hopefuls taking aim at April 2012 when the
Olympic trials are held.
"Wrestling is 40 percent physical and 60 percent mental," Weber said.
"It comes down to who wants it more—when we go out on that
mat at this level, physically we can match up—it comes down
to the mental edge. The older wrestlers have just been in the game
longer. For me, I wrestled boys throughout high school—they
may have had the physical edge at the time. Now the transition to all
women wrestling was made a lot easier."
Weber, who will turn 19 in March, said as few as 20 colleges in the
United States offer women's wrestling programs.
"There are few options out there after high school," said Weber.
"Typically, the Olympic team recruits from the college
ranks—that's where the majority of athletes come from. But
for me, after I left the Goodrich team, to which I was dedicated, I
just did not think it would be the same on a college team. So it was
time for me to go solo. Why not go to the best team right
off—the U.S. team?"
Weber climbed the ranks as a wrestler while attending school in
Goodrich and making the junior world team and qualifying for the senior
world trials. She was part of two state championship seasons as a
Martian, while qualifying for individual state competition three years
at Goodrich. She finished with a 58-5 2009 season record and 162-34 for
her career at GHS.
She is coached by Terry Steiner, who was named USA Wrestling's
full-time National Women's Coach in April 2002, the first in USA
Wrestling history. He is responsible for the training of America's
elite women freestyle wrestlers, as well as coaching women wrestlers
who are involved in the U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete
program. For the first time, women's wrestlers competed in the Olympic
Games in 2004. Steiner helped lead that Olympic team to one silver and
one bronze medal, the second-highest medal count of any nation.
"You are reminded everyday why you are at the OTC. Every single person
there is after the same thing. They share the same drive to be the
Weber said the athletes are tested for drugs at random and health is
monitored by on-staff doctors.
"At the OTC they watch what is going on all the time—they
know what cough syrup we are using, but I would do nothing to hurt my
chances," she said.
"I still have fun on the weekends," she said. "I go out, but I stay
focused. I'm with the best coaches at the U.S. Olympic Training Center,
and for me that's the place to be."
In March 2008, millions of viewers received their first glimpses of
Martian standout grappler Weber, when sports network ESPN chose to
feature her, along with teammate Kristi Garr, on "Outside the Lines,"
an Emmy-winning series that examines sports issues off the playing
Schroeder senior Tanya Kusse was acknowledged as the first girl
believed to have earned all-league honors at this meet. She finished
sixth in the 119 division.
Despite Whatcom County's
individual success at the tournament, both the girls' and boys' team
titles are staying in Skagit County this year. The Sedro-Woolley girls'
team dominated, finishing with 194 points to easily win first place.
Burlington-Edison was second at 155 and Mount Baker was third with 131
points. On the boys' side the Tigers took first with 193 points to edge
Blaine which ended up with 156. Squalicum was third, Sedro-Woolley
fourth, and Ferndale fifth.
With the NWC Crossover Duals
set for Wednesday and then a weeklong break from tournaments action for
most the teams in the conference, Saturday's tourney was the last
chance for a lot of wrestlers to get some tournament work in before the
"We approach this that if our
kids are healthy they deserve to step out there and give it their
best," said Lynden coach Randy Anderson whose Lions finished sixth as a
team and sent four wrestlers to the championship round. "If we're
battling some injuries or something then we probably don't put them out
there. Other than bragging rights it's a tournament that offers good
competition, so we say let's go and wrestle."
Other wrestlers winning titles
were Shanli Dillard (130), Jessica Taranenko (171), Nolan Takemura
(103), Andrew Reid (135) Justin Santos (145) Pedro Mungarro (160),
Justin Korthuis (171), Tim Barron (189), Jeremy Holdaas (215), and
Walter Hathaway (285).
Nooksack Valley's Nick Torres
was someone who did get bit by an injury. After coming into the
tournament with a perfect record he reached the finals at 171-pounds,
but had to forfeit after injuring his leg. Squalicum's Andrew Murry was
another wrestler who forfeited his title match.
For every tough luck story
there was an uplifting one, like Lynden's Elena Gallegos who won her
first tournament title at 103 pounds. She usually wrestles on the boys'
junior varsity for the Lions, but picked up three pins on her way to
the title in the girls' tournament.
"She did a great job," Anderson
said. "She's usually wrestling with the boys and I think that's helped
her. She really was tremendous today."
Mount Baker's Katie Weide was
another wrestler who pinned every opponent she faced at the tournament.
Weide pinned Emma Foss of Burlington-Edison in the second round to take
the girls' title at 152 pounds.
"This is pretty much just a
warm-up for state kind of thing," Weide said. "I think as a team we
wanted to get a couple more matches, but that's how it goes sometimes.
The good thing is you can get your chances back in the postseason if
you don't do so well here."
Northwest Conference Tournament
Girls’ Team Results
1. Sedro-Woolley 194; 2.
Burlington-Edison 155; 3. Mount Baker 131; 4. Lynden 45; 5. Mount
Vernon 38.5; 6. Squalicum 18, 7. Anacortes 11
103: Elena Gallegos (Lynden) p.
Emily Iverson (SW) 2:49 112: Andrea Iverson (SW) p. Ella Salkeld (MB)
1:59. 119: Ricarda Garcia (MV) tech fall. Roxanne Rosas (MB) 16-1. 125:
Jessi Kaech (SW) p. Makenzie Pell (B-E) 3:45. 130: Shanli Dillard (MB)
p. Chelsea Seidel (SW) 3:48. 135: Haylee Rabenstein (SW) forfeit Jamie
Randall (SW). 140: Sarah Moquin (SW) p. Katee Allen (SW) 1:54. 145:
Alysia Pohren (SW) forfeit Marree Reed (SW). 152: Katie Weide (MB) p.
Emma Foss (B-E) 2:44. 160: Jessica O’Dell (B-E) bye. 171:
Jessica Taranenko (MB) bye. 285: Emily Holboy (B-E) p. Makenzi Clark
It was a banner day for five area wrestlers at the girls state
championships at Cypress Creek High in Kissimmee on Saturday, but
especially for Barron Collier 103-pounder Kathy Harcourt and Palmetto
Ridge’s Carolyn Benale at 135 pounds.
Both senior wrestlers earned
state titles for the third consecutive year.
With Bears boys wrestling coach
Steve Hart leading the area contingent, Felicita Salazar (125) of
Palmetto Ridge, Golden Gate’s Erica Gutierez (135) and
Lely’s Ruthie Sentanus (152), all placed among the top five
in their divisions.
But for Harcout and Benale, who
have become friends over the years, the state titles were special
— if not unexpected.
to win,” Harcourt said. “But not as exciting as the
The duo breezed through their
respective weight classes, each winning all four of their matches by
championship match, she pinned her opponent from Orlando-Oakridge in
just 58 seconds.
“I was kind of
surprised it happened so quickly,” said Benale, who bench
presses 115 pounds. “I practice with the boys team every day.
I get my strength from wrestling them.”
Despite the victory, Harcourt
said her season is far from finished. She has her eyes on another title
— the boys state championship. Last year, Harcourt, who has
applied to numerous Ivy League schools, made it to the boys regional
“I want to qualify
for the boys state tournament,” she said. “It
doesn’t make today any less of an accomplishment. A lot of
people would want to be in my shoes.
“Everybody comes here
(states) to win, and fortunately it was me.”
Besides becoming friends after
traveling three years together to the state tournament, both wrestlers
share equal admiration for each other.
really great,” said Benale, who began wrestling in the sixth
grade. “She’s such a nice person and is very
helpful to all the wrestlers.”
Harcourt has mutual sentiments.
to see another girl work so hard,” she said. “Most
girls give it a shot and then give it up. It’s nice to see
another woman out here.
“Carolyn shows we can
do whatever the boys can, and she’s proved it for the last
@ Boys & Girls - Wrestling
vs. Boys & Girls - Game Preview & News
CSI/McCown topped host Boys and
Girls 24-12 in PSAL action in Brooklyn on Saturday as Chris Cordero
broke a 6-6 tie with his win by forfeit in the 119-pound weight class.
After the Dragons lost the
first match, Mohammad Mousa pinned Chad Brackenridge in the 112 in 3
minutes, 35 seconds to even the score. After Cordero's go-ahead
victory, CSI/McCown maintained its lead but faced trouble after its
loss in the 189. Ben Wasserman added an insurance victory in the
CSI/M takes part in the Mayor's
Cup on Sunday.
Lockport's Haley Augello just like most other freshmen, except she
Lockport's Haley Augello is like most other
high school freshman girls. Well, sort of.
While makeup, hair care and trips to the mall to buy clothes are
priorities, Augello also happens to be a starter at 103 pounds on the
Porters' highly regarded varsity wrestling team.
"My friends don't think there's anything weird about it," said Augello,
who began wrestling when she was 8 years old. "Once I'm on the mat, I'm
not a girly-girl. I'm a wrestler."
She almost didn't get that chance.
Her desire to join her younger brother, Sean, at wrestling practice was
rebuffed by her parents for the better part of a year. Once they
relented, Haley was tutored by her father, Larry, a longtime coach with
the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation who wrestled in college at
What he and others discovered was that Haley was good. Very good.
Despite her knack for the sport, Augello's participation still hasn't
been easy on another interested party: her mother, Wendy.
"There was a lot of hesitancy, mostly from me, because obviously, as a
mom, I've always wanted to protect her," Wendy Augello said. "Now it's
more emotionally exhausting for me than her. Some of the things I hear
in the stands, mostly from other parents, aren't very nice. But she's
earned respect from most of the die-hards."
While she admits that she isn't quite "one of the gang," the respect
factor is there from her teammates as well. She had to earn her place
in the lineup and has acquitted herself very well, going 12-19 against
a top-flight schedule.
"It doesn't faze us that she's a girl, because her wrestling speaks for
itself," said Lockport junior Jameson Oster, the defending Class 3A
119-pound state champion. "We don't exclude her from anything. Not all
freshmen start on varsity, especially on a team like ours."
Foremost among Augello's immediate goals is protecting her spot in the
lineup. But she doesn't shy away from her inevitable role as a
"There are a lot of girls out there who think that they can't do this,"
Augello said. "But I'm proof that it can be done."
The Haley Augello file
High school: Lockport
FYI: Been wrestling since she was 8.
Want to see more?
Check out video of Haley Augello at wrestling practice at
ARTICLE AND audio INTERVIEW HERE:
Ladies who punch
Updated: January 24. 2010 4:40PM UAE /
January 24. 2010 12:40PM GMT
professional MMA fighter Tam
Khan leads a mixed martial arts class for women at the World Black Belt
in Dubai. Amy Leang / The National
pretty and softly spoken,
with flawless skin and perfectly coiffed hair, the participants of
first women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) class were not exactly in
the traditional image of female fighters, with not a cornrow braid or
And yet on the matted mezzanine floor of a Sheikh Zayed Road apartment
earlier this month, the aforementioned women punched, kicked and
“grounded-and-pounded” their way through the first
ladies-only session in true
by a desire to release
aggression, burn calories and build strength in the company of
women, Fatima Rabbani, 27, from Afghanistan, arrived at the TSG Dubai
Academy fresh-faced and determined to make it through the instructor
intense cardiovascular workout.
Khan, an experienced 27-year-old professional MMA fighter from the UK,
pioneered the development of the sport in Dubai since 2008, setting up
branch of TSG (Team Sure Grip) MMA Academy at the World Black Belt
Sheikh Zayed Road.
which is affiliated with the
legendary Royce Gracie fight school, also has branches in London and
caters to fighters wanting to compete professionally in MMA, boxing, K1
Muay Thai, as well as for those wishing to improve their fitness and
conditioning or learn basic self-defence.
But while martial arts, particularly kick-boxing, has become big
the women’s fitness industry in recent years, until now the
testosterone-charged, tough-guy image of MMA has made all but a handful
women in Dubai nervous about rocking up to a class.
most women opt for private
classes with Khan, which makes it difficult for them to put what they
“It is hard for them to practice certain moves, particularly the
floor moves, with a member of the opposite sex,” Khan explained.
“A ladies-only class is an arena they feel more confident in. I
can teach in a
private lesson, but they don’t get to do the practice.
I would like to train a
Rabbani, who exercises regularly, had decided to attend the first class
watching one of the MMA classes from the sidelines.
“I had watched Tam at his MMA class. One of my friends comes to
his class and I
saw how good the cardiovascular training was – how hard,”
“I go to the gym and do Body Pump weight classes, Pilates and
yoga, but this is
obviously something very different. I knew he was a little tough, but
part of the appeal. Many people have trainers who don’t push them
I knew he would push me.
was just important that I could
attend a women-only session.”
MMA is a full-contact multi-discipline sport that uses a range of
including Muay Thai, boxing, ju-jitsu, wrestling and judo.
While there are professional female MMA fighters around the world, and
predicts there will eventually be female fighters in Dubai, he is
the focus of this ladies’ class is on conditioning and fitness,
there will be no hitting each
other in the face, then?
“No, not at all,” he said. “I don’t want to
scare people off.
“MMA has that hard image. Maybe we can produce the first female
MMA fighter in
Dubai but that is not what this class is about. You cannot beat an MMA
It works almost every muscle group – your core, legs, hips, arms,
parts of the
body you never knew existed.”
Rabbani has many Emirati friends who also wanted to make the first
were unable to because of social commitments. They will, she insisted,
the next class.
family are fully supportive of
“My father’s first question was if it would be all
ladies,” she said.
“When I said it would he was fine about it. After all, it is good
safety, to know how to defend myself.”
The class began gently enough, with participants running around the
of the hall touching the floor with their hands as instructed by Khan.
But the tempo soon changed, as did the sweat-to-smile ratio, as he took
women through an unforgiving series of knee-up jumps, squats, push-ups,
sit-ups, sprawls and burpees.
there it was on to the focus
mitts. The women paired up and Khan took them through a series of basic
combinations incorporating combinations with straight-out flurries to
the heart rate.
Then came the kick shields for some basic leg work – rib and
that increased in speed and intensity as the rounds wore on.
After that it was on to basic grappling and knees – something
that Khan pointed
out could come in handy as a self-defence ploy to fend off male
women took it in turns to hold a
kick shield while their partner gripped them around the neck and pulled
forward to make contact with the knee. It was tiring but in no way
Finally, it was on to “ground-and-pound” practice – a
tactic that involves
taking an opponent to the ground using a takedown or throw, and then
when in a
dominant position striking the opponent with the fists and elbows.
though, it happened minus the
throwdown and the women protected their upper bodies with a large kick
while their partner let out their aggression on the pad.
Embarrassed giggles soon gave way to an unleashing of energy as the
poured what was left of their power reserves into the pads.
Then it was back to running, sit-ups, push-ups and some Pilates moves
core strength before stretching.
the end, Nadine Ahmed, a
15-year-old student from Yemen, was tired but happy.
“I was expecting it to be really tough, but I actually found it
entertaining too,” she said.
Ahmed’s brother, a fighter and instructor who trains at TSG, had
to try the class when she expressed her interest in trying something
“It is a good way to start exercising,” she said.
was tired but I am OK now. I am
going to come again.”
The social aspect of the class, she said, was as important as the
“I wanted to do something that involved being in a group,
something that could
make you stronger and empower you. It can also help with
For those who like the sound of the calorie-burning (Khan claims it is
to burn as much as 1,000 calories in an MMA class) but are less
the pad work, TSG is also in the final stages of agreeing to an MMA
in conjunction with Fitness O2.
yet another avenue for women
and men to gain the body, but not the bruises, of a fighter.
“This whole movement is about promoting the fitness side of MMA
and making it
accessible to everyone,” Khan said.
“It is about pure conditioning so you get the workouts that
champions and MMA
fighters such as myself use to get in shape before a fight.”
The boot camp is likely to launch while the mixed martial arts champion
Gracie is in Dubai for a workshop at the Black Belt Centre on Saturday.
For more information, visit www.mmadubai.ae.