By Natalie Kaufman
Those who enter Carlsbad Kickboxing Club know that it is inevitable they will receive a friendly hello from Hakan Yildiz when walking past the ring. What they might not know is his background and that fact that we at CKC get the pleasure of being among fighting royalty.
Hakan grew up in Mersin, Turkey, a city on the south coast of Turkey along the Mediterranean Sea and started boxing and practicing muay thai at the age of six. He also practiced gymnastics for about five years.
Always a hyperactive kid, Hakan’s father wanted him to channel that energy into a sport. “My uncle was already training and teaching boxing and muay thai at a gym in Mersin, so he became my coach. From that point on, I never looked back,” he says. “Martial arts became my passion.”
His first fight was at the age of 10 and he went on to became a Turkey National Champion. He also served as the Muay Thai ambassador for Ankara, the capital of Turkey. After that, he stepped into what he considers one of the most important roles in his career—the Technical Coordinator of the Turkey National youth Muay Thai team.
But Hakan isn’t finished. Although he chose to retire from fighting in 2013 and focus his time on becoming a grand master along with furthering his involvement and career with the Turkey National Muay Thai team, his ultimate goal is to come back from retirement and fight for a belt again in USA.
We, at CKC, think he can do it. He has proven that he has the motivation and dedication to do just that. For example, at the 2005 Adult World Championship in Bangkok, Thailand, when he was just 17 years old, he was in the finals was winning. In the final 15 seconds of the fight, he got a kick to his neck and the referee stopped the fight and the opponent took the gold medal.
That fight was the turning point for Hakan. “From that point forward, I channeled that motivation and energy to be the best.” After that, he became a two-time World Champion and the first IFMA World Champion in the country of Turkey and was honored by the Republic of Turkey with the National Sports Excellence Award.
His inspiration at CKC is infectious and that is due to his passion for the sport. “I started training other fighters in 2012 and it was inspiring to be able to share my knowledge and motivate others to be successful,” he says. “In addition to training fighters around Turkey, I was the leader in establishing a federation for individuals in difficult conditions, named ‘Guckobir’ in the capital of Turkey. I am the general secretary of this federation that is aimed to help children and youth in need.” That particular program has helped many children focus their energy into sports and has created Turkey, European and world Muay Thai champions.
As for how we are so lucky to have him at Carlsbad Kickboxing Club? He says the club is his second home and his goal is to make it the best martial art gym in all of the greater San Diego area.
“I love people’s energy, humor and motivation for Muay Thai here at CKC,” he says. “The energy is always high, and I feel that my career and experience is well respected by all members and staff. It is so rewarding to be able to share my knowledge and help grow Muay Thai in the CKC community.”
What a difference one year makes.
Last March, the coronavirus pandemic prompted closures of retail centers including fitness clubs and gyms across the nation in an attempt to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 virus.
During the critical time, safety was top priority for nearly every business, its staff and members—especially for Carlsbad Kickboxing Club.
The gym, decided to close their doors to comply with what seemed to be the right move at the time.
Knowing there were grim times ahead, many of its 300 or so members froze their monthly payments as they hunkered at home and, in some cases, lost their jobs.
Closing the doors or not, Carlsbad Kickboxing Club’s rent was still due.
While CKC owner worked out a deal to receive a few months forbearance from his two landlords, he acknowledged at the time that that there was a chance he would not be able to remain open through September without paying customers.
He tried his best to stay afloat, even connecting members to online classes for those who wanted to practice their muay thai moves at home. He even loaned out gym equipment free of charge, including bags, mitts and gloves, to the members who continue to support the gym.
All of those moves, along with applications for small business loan grants, allowed CKC to remain optimistic, hoping for better times ahead. He pushed forward and focused on things they could control, such as improvements to the gym, and even diving into refining plans to open a personal training trade school aimed at training veterans.
Through the first part of the summer, CKC figured out ways to keep the lights on. But had not taken a drastic move, it might not have been enough.
Despite the County’s COVID-19 public health order not allowing for gyms to open, CKC defied the guidelines and reopened at a time when others went out of business and had to file for bankruptcy.
But did it quietly and respectfully without a show—even hired security to sit in the car at the end of the road with a radio ready to report and watch for any disruption in their new plan to move forward. Carlsbad Kickboxing Club reopened, not to defy county orders, but to instead support their staff. The gym opened for their members’ sanity. And above all, the gym reopened because CKC’s owner truly believed it was his right as an American and as a small business owner in the United States of America, a country, that he himself has fought for.
Last summer, Montano said that he hoped that this setback would make the gym stronger. He now has proof that it has.
Within less than a year of reopening, the gym has nearly doubled its membership and looks forward to a bright future and continued expansion.
So, what is next?
For CKC, it is to double the gym’s current growth and bring in a rotation of Thai trainers (when possible) in hopes of strengthening the gym’s tournament team and putting more belts on the wall. In addition, CKC plans to open a new personal training academy school as well.
“Never let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do,” Montano says. We look forward to the future because the sky’s the limit, he adds.
“When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump”.
What do you feel when you hear the words “work out”?
For many, getting in a workout feels like a chore or just checking some imaginary box that they went to the gym. For others, like San Diego-born athlete and fitness influencer, Demi Bagby, regular movement brings joy.
As one of Carlsbad Kickboxing Club’s newer members, the 20-year-old—known as a fitness enthusiast to some—strives to push her limits both physically and mentally. For her, fitness brings passion and motivation.
Bagby finished high school early and received two AA degrees from college all before she was 18 years old. She has been involved in sports her whole life.
What began with traditional rec sports like cheerleading and soccer soon became all things fitness related. Following a cheerleading accident when she was younger, where some may have given up, Bagby did not let the accident define her and, instead, refocused her attention towards fitness.
She began doing CrossFit—ultimately pushing her to broaden her scope and jump into anything and everything including gymnastics, parkour, surfing, snowboarding and more.
“Although my passion for working out and training grew, my interest in sports never faded,” she says. “I continue to work hard and do what makes me feel my best and be my best.”
Being her best includes striving to live in each and every moment. Her hope is to pass the belief along that if you believe you can do it, you can.
Bagby strives to be kind and pass those good vibes to her more than two million Instagram followers and more than 13 million tik-tok followers as well as her fitness app users, demibagbyfit.com.
Her ultimate fitness goal is to stay in shape, be the best she can be in everything she does, and hopefully share that same motivation with others. “I am all about challenges and discovering innovative workouts, techniques, and staying positive.”
Bagby likes to take what people normally would perceive as a chore and turn it into something fun. “Being fit is more than just going to a gym. You can work out and train in so many different ways, you just have to find something you like and get moving.”
She adds that if you are able to look at training (and life in general really) with a positive mindset, it will never be boring.
Bagby follows her own advice and doesn’t train the exact same every day—often changing it up daily to keep it interesting and keep herself motivated. Boxing, for example, is something she has trained in only a few times over the years, but nothing consistently, but does the job in keeping her motivated. “
I get to spend my days training with some of the most talented humans in muay thai,” she says. “Rolando and Hakan at Carlsbad Kickboxing Club are amazing… Rolando has built an amazing gym and I feel blessed to be a member.”
Her goal specifically with CKC is to learn muay thai. “I don’t know where that will go but as with any martial art, it’s super good for my mind, body and keeping myself centered.”
That’s exactly what Bagby wants to relay to her followers. “Change things up. Do something you find appealing or have been wanting to try and just do it,” she says.
“Most people my age are trying to navigate life, especially during Covid, which I know can be really challenging,” she adds, “but I believe you can achieve any goal you want, you simply have to take the initiative in life. Don’t let anything hold you back.”
By Natalie Kaufman.
In November of last year, Mike Tyson returned to boxing at the age of 54 against 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr. The eight-round exhibition battle of the former heavyweight champions ended in a draw. The fight was held at the Los Angeles Staples Center just 15 years after Tyson retired from the sport after a loss to Kevin McBride.
There were a few changes to that particular fight. California State Athletic Commission officials required two-minute rounds instead of the usual three. They also mandated larger than normal 12-ounce gloves and explained that neither fighter would be allowed to actually seek a knock out.
While the future remains to be seen on where Tyson’s comeback can go, Carlsbad Kickboxing Club is betting on its own comeback kid.
Reily Allen began training at the age of 13. When she was a little girl, she wanted to be an FBI agent and asked her dad at the time what they did for fighting. He gave her two options to pursue and muay thai was one of them.
While she only trained for about 5 years with Rolando Montana, Reily was quickly a force to be reckoned with in the sport—taking home belt after belt. She also began coaching the gym’s youth program while juggling high school classes.
While she hasn’t been away from the sport for long, she still hung up her gloves about a year and a half ago because she was starting college with the hope still of becoming an FBI Agent—pursuing a degree in criminology and justice studies.
Her reasoning at the time for quitting the sport she loved was to focus on her academics. Before she left, she said that the sport had impacted her life in the greatest of ways. It set her up for success, helped her mature and helped her see the world differently.
During her time away, she learned how to manage her time and “actually become an adult,” she says. But what she also learned, was how important muay thai was for her.
“Muay thai is not only a sport that I love, but while I was gone, I felt like a huge part of my life was missing,” she said.
When she started training again, that void, she said, was filled.
“I decided to come back for the reason that I felt incomplete, and I knew I wasn’t finished accomplishing my goals within the sport.”
Her goal coming back to Carlsbad Kickboxing Club is to not only help the gym grow more but to get some more belts. Her next upcoming fight will be to (hopefully) take home the gold at the TBA Classic in Iowa this June.
Coming back to the gym, she says that she cannot wait to be a trainer again. “Watching what I know in the sport be passed on to someone else is very rewarding and fulfilling,” she says.
As for what the future holds for her, we will have to wait and see what’s in store, but for now, we are happy to have Reily Allen back.
It certainly was his time to shine this past weekend. As we predicted in January, David Delapaz is on his way up in the muay thai fighting world, just recently earning the win and the belt, at the 4th Annual IKF Spring Eastern Muay Thai / Kickboxing Classic in Myrtle Beach, SC.
For Delapaz, it is just the beginning as he prepares for the US Muay Thai Open West National Championships later this month and more events later in the year.
For Rolando Montano, CKC owner, this weekend’s win reminded him what Carlsbad Kickboxing Club was built on.
“When Carlsbad Kickboxing Club first opened, we were built on our kids competition program. Those are our roots,” says Montano. “And as Covid is calming down, and as more youth competition events are being added to the calendar, there has never been a better time to invest in our youth.”
The kids program over the past few months has growth at a significant rate. For some, it is a place to have fun, sweat and get a good workout and learn teamwork. For others, it is the beginning of their path to hopefully earn what Delapaz just brought back to CKC.
The following will be the specific restructuring and refocusing of the program as of now as CKC looks forward to growing it’s youth’s competition future.
This Monday @3:30 PM we will hold a “TRY OUT”
MONDAY and WEDNESDAY: 3:30-4:15pm (Young athlete development program)
Focusing on competition, furthering muay their techniques, strength and more.
It has been said that one of the most important relationships any fighter will have in their career is the bond they have with their coach. Beyond the technical skills being taught, it is the relationship that is almost just as important as the number of wins earned.
According to Carlsbad Kickboxing Club’s Rolando Montano “The best part of coaching is seeing the potential and helping someone believe in it. I can show them the door, but they need to make the decision to go through it or not.”
Below are just a few days ways to help build a strong relationship between a coach and an athlete.
Communication and Positive Reinforcement: An open line of communication between a coach and a fighter keeps everyone accountable and honest with one another. Doing so will lead to stronger training, personal growth, and athletic progress. When all that is aligned, winning will become a result of those relationships. Positive reinforcement is also an important step in accomplishing that goal. Building up a fighter through encouragement can help them visualize positive outcomes and maintain confidence.
Be Available: Don’t just go through the motions. It is key that a coach makes it clear to the individual they are training that they are available and accessible whenever needed. Especially with younger athletes who are just getting started, they often need advice and might be seeking someone to follow and look up to as a mentor.
Sincerity and Genuine Interest: Don’t just go through the motions. A coach should always show genuine interest in the athlete they are training. It is that sincerity that will run deeper than any win or losses and ultimately, will improve them as a fighter. The challenge though lies in figuring out the balance between rationale, logic, and training in the sport, with empathy and compassion for the individual. Coaches must understand their job isn’t just about physical progress, it’s about setting their young athletes up for success in life.
CKC’s Xavier Barker is very aware of the relationships that develop between him and his students. Since he realizes that many students don’t end up competing, personally, his focus is to foster good moral character, emotional growth, and self-confidence in his students rather than being the best fighter. “You can be the best fighter on the planet, but if you are not a good person to be around, then you lost all of the magic of Martial arts,” he says.
A great coach, he adds, is someone who can instill great values and lessons into the minds and hearts of athletes. “I think the best coaches care beyond the belts and the wins. People will forget most of the techniques I ever show them, but they will never forget how I made them feel.”
Xavier Barker, who will have his 30th birthday this month, was born premature and grew up in rough neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan. Subject to bullying, he started training martial arts at the age of 7. For Barker, his training gave him a much needed an outlet, not only as a way to defend himself, but a way to express his feelings.
“I initially was drawn to martial arts due to the influence of mass media like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and Bruce Lee films,” Barker says. “I have always had a passion for it. It’s been fists and feet my entire life.”
In wasn’t until 2015 that he started formally training in muay thai.
In 2015, Xavier found his home with Carlsbad Kickboxing Club and remains one of the longest-tenured trainers at the gym. He was asked to help with the children’s program due to his background in traditional martial arts and due to his attention to detail with technique.
“I became a coach because I want to give back to the sport and art that has given me so much as a person. I think the best way to achieve that goal is to help guild and influence those who wish to learn the martial arts.”
For Barker, his love of coaching is that feeling he gets when he starts seeing someone level up and progress in their skill level. “Like a video game, it so dope to see one get that next power up and slay the final boss,” he jokes.
Additionally, Barker likes the daily mental challenge that comes with coaching and breaking down the techniques on a more digestible level. “It forces me to adapt and really understand the techniques myself when I must teach another individual.”
As for what the future holds for Barker personally, as of present, he is on his last semester as a kinesiology major at CSUSM. On the fighting front, his goals are to still challenge himself to grow through the adversity that comes with fighting and training.
“In the coming year, I would like to spend some extended time in Thailand to fight, gain more experience in the sport and further my craft. I plan to be active as a fighter for the next five or so years. I want to really push myself in that time frame.”
Afterward, Barker says, he would like to fully commit to his role as a coach and also has plans to return to school at some point to pursue his MBA.
“Ultimately, I want to be able to fully express myself in the ring and display my art to my fullest capabilities until I cannot anymore.”
He currently has 13 fights to his name and would like to get up to at least 50 before hanging up his gloves.
To learn more about Barker as well as learn the stories of other trainers and members of Carlsbad Kickboxing Club, or if you are interested in registering for a free trial class, click here.
Also, stay tuned for more thoughts from Barker on coaching and the unique relationship between a coach and their student.
If you ask any muay thai world champion how they got to where they are today, one of the most common answers you might hear is that they followed their passion. They might say they had that hunger and that thirst for the sport and they were born to fight.
But that is not necessarily the case for all. There are many who compete or dedicate their time fighting for a different reason entirely. Those others might say their success comes from persistence, dedication and hard work. It isn’t necessarily that they lack the passion, but passion isn’t what is their driving force.
Meet Carlsbad Kickboxing Club’s Sean Kallen, currently 19 years of age. He starting training at 13 years old for one simple reason—to get in shape. And he was quite content only casually training with a small class. “I was quite reserved and the idea of fighting really scared me,” he says.
Kallen admits to having bad social anxiety and unlight others who come alive in the ring and feel as though it is their home, Kallen always felt butterflies in his stomach when he pictured anyone watching him fight.
As his training progressed and as he followed CKC owner Rolando Montano from gym to gym, he was getting better and after about a year of training, Montano recognized his potential and encouraged him to give his first fight a try. Try he did at the US Muay Thai Open in Arizona, but he ended up losing due to point deductions.
“I was not a fighter despite what people wanted to believe,” he says. Instead, Kallen was hard working and developed a passion for refining his technique. He was also a fast learner and was able to memorize new combinations and fix his errors in training with relative ease. But he admits he still lacked that “fighting spirit.”
“I was young and inexperienced. I let my emotions dictate my decisions in the ring and it clouded my judgement,” he says. “All I felt was extremely uncomfortable.” But he didn’t stop. Kallen wasn’t upset about the loss and went straight back to the gym to continue training. “I trained day in and day out all summer long until it was time for the IKF World Classic. This time I was prepared, I trained much more seriously and I was in amazing shape.”
But once again, he still didn’t really care about the fight even though it ended with him winning by unanimous decision. His nerves were still there but he was able to block them out this time and his instincts and training took over. “As soon as the bell rang it was just business.”
After that fight, whether due to a lack of passion or the desire to find what did feel natural to him, he took time off to focus on school and pursue other sports. It took an injury while playing lacrosse, weight gain and some admitted mental and physical health issues that led him back to muay thai.
“I lacked motivation to do anything and continued on a downward spiral. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, ‘what happened, how did I let myself go this far’ and I realized I needed to change,” he says.
For Kallen, training and getting in shape again was just what he needed and was a very good distraction from the way he had been feeling. He now has the focus and dedication he was missing. He starts his day by lifting at 5:30 am, heads to work and then trains in both boxing and muay thai classes in the late afternoon. He also ends his day by running up to six miles.
Continuing that routine six days a week, he now has the purpose he was looking for and is feeling healthier. “I’m noticing how my mind is changing,” he says. “I used to complain and procrastinate any responsibility that I had, but now nothing is too difficult for me.”
Whether fighting brought him the attitude adjustment he needed, or gave him a better outlook on how he wants to live his life, there are many reasons a person pursues fighting. For Kallen, the passion may look a little different, but there is no doubt it is there.
Most people have heard the phrase that culture starts from the top down. Many studies throughout time have proven that culture, which stems from its leadership, touches every aspect of a business. A good culture can have a profound effect a business’s level of success and a negative culture can also be part of a company’s demise.
Culture is often closely associated with employee satisfaction, increased productivity, creativity and more and a positive culture usually translates to a positive influence on the profitability of a company.
For a boxing gym, all of that rings true, but it is much more than that.
Even if the gym has the best trainers in the world, all the latest and greatest in equipment and more, what separates a good gym from a great gym is the culture that you find there. You should ask the question: Does my gym feel like a second home for me, because it should.
If you are fighting competitively, the relationship you have with your gym is essential to your success and culture is key.
Your gym is the one who is with you in the ring. Your gym are the colors you are wearing. Your gym is the one that has your back. When you are in the ring, it is your gym, your second family you look to when you are finding more strength and motivation to keep going.
Carlsbad Kickboxing Club has made culture its number one priority since the day it opened its doors and promises its members that it will continue to remain its mission.
If you are interested in checking out Carlsbad Kickboxing Gym, are seeing their culture first hand, Click here to try a class for free to see it might just be what you are missing.
David Delapaz grew up in Vista, CA, and has lived there for his entire 15 years of life. While he played football as a kid, he used to watch muay thai fights with his dad and fell in love with the sport at a very young age. “Muay thai was always so much more interesting to me,” he says, when comparing it to other sports or activities.
He began his training at a very young age (around 4 years old). In terms of the number of fights he has done; it is so many at this point, he lost count a while ago.
Delapaz has a great record thus far—completing and winning in tournaments like the 2019 US Muay Thai Open WEST Championships, the USMTO West 2018 in Phoenix and in 2019, the TBA Classic Muay Thai World Expo. In the later, he beat out a very tough Canadian opponent who went on to win the gold medal in last year’s IFMA Muay Thai Official World Championship in Antalya Turkey.
But it isn’t about the win records for Delapaz necessarily—although he says the winning does really excite him. “I just like to fight,” he says. “I like to forget about it and train like I am still trying to prove myself.”
Going into his last tournament, for example, Delapaz was very disciplined—running anywhere from 12 to 15 miles. He says he even trained hard enough to be able to still eat at his favorite restaurant—McDonalds.
While he still sometimes gets a little nervous before a fight, when he gets in the ring, “it feels so natural,” he says. “Overall, it’s just so much fun. If you ever been in a fight there’s a feeling you get inside and you just can’t get it doing anything else.”
I guess we’ll see what the future has to hold for Delapaz, but there is no doubt that it is his time to shine. “I definitely see myself fighting because in all honesty it’s the only thing I know.”
Courtney Tianne Brooks grew up in Southern California—living in the mountains when she was young and then moving to Murrieta, CA, where she lived until December 2019. She attended Murrieta Mesa High school, and, after high school, she took a semester of an uncredited bible college in Kauai, HI.
While Courtney might sound like your average young Southern California girl, who played basketball and ran track in high school (with a focus on the hurdles event), she is far from any typical stereotype. When she was 8 years old, Courtney started Taekwondo, trained for four years, and received her black belt at only 12.
Her mother was the encouragement—having both her and her siblings take taekwondo for the self-defense and discipline aspect that martial arts brings. Courtney even took it one step further and participated in some sparring competition when she was younger.
But when Courtney went back to the sport about a year ago and didn’t get the intensity she was looking for; she didn’t go looking for anything other form of fighting at the time. It was then that she stumbled across the movie “Million Dollar Baby” and got inspired.
It was that inspiration that led her to search kickboxing gyms and in September 2020, she found Carlsbad Kickboxing Club and hasn’t looked back.
“I took a class a couple days later and absolutely loved it,” she says. “It felt like home, I signed up and dove right in and haven’t slowed down!”
As for where she goes from here, Courtney says she would like to start doing competition fights and train to work her way up in the fight world. “I am definitely interested in training in other forms of fighting like ground fighting for example, but my main style and focus will be on muay thai” she says.
Since starting her new martial art focus, she has also found a new love in teaching, especially the kids classes. “I’ve always loved working with kids,” she says. And while right now her main focus is being able to work and train to get herself to a place where she can compete, the idea of teaching full time after she has accomplished what she wants to is definitely something she is interested in.
“I love to share fitness in any way possible, whether teaching kids muay thai or personal training in the gym,” she says. “I am going through my NASM certification to become a personal trainer and to dive further into the world and knowledge of fitness.”
Born and raised in Chandler, AZ, Keith Eckert did not grow up wanting to be a muay thai fighter. While he always loved boxing as a kid (and watched pay-per-view fights with his family) muay thai wasn’t something he discovered until much later in life.
But that’s not to say he wasn’t extremely athletic. He attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he was a division 1 wrestler. He also played other sports as a kid and eventually started adventure racing and running ultramarathons in 2016.
Eckert’s first was a long run was roughly 50 miles up Santiago Peak in Orange County, CA. From there, he ran multiple 100-mile races in the Arizona desert and then transitioned to running 200-mile races. In 2018, for example, he ran BigFoot 200 in Washington, as well as the Moab 240—a 240.3-mile footrace through some of Utah’s most stunning and challenging terrain. Also, this past February, he raced 350 miles on the Iditarod trail of Alaska in temperatures as low as -50. He covered 35 miles a day and finished in 10 days.
Eckert was only recently drawn to Carlsbad Kickboxing Club in July of this year because he liked the idea of combing kicks with punches. “After my first training session earlier this year, I was hooked,” he says. “I became even more hooked after participating in the fight night.”
He currently trains 5 to 6 days a week—attending classes and taking private one-on-one training from Joey Siplyak. “As I continue training my goal is to travel around with the team and compete in fights.”
But furthering his muay thai training isn’t the only thing he thinks is worth fighting for. This coming February, he will be heading back to the Iditarod trail in Alaska to race the full 1000 miles on foot. “I need to cover 34 miles a day for 30 straight days to finish in the allotted time.”
His future adventure goals? To expand more into mountaineering and climb the 7 summits. “I have already completed Kilimanjaro and am looking to head to South America to climb Aconcagua towards the end of 2021”
So what’s on your bucket list? If muay thai is on the list, or even helping prep you for any of your other fitness goals, contact Carlsbad Kickboxing Club to learn more.
To visit Keith Eckert’s website to read a bit more and donate to his next adventure visit
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Those famous words were said by Alexander Graham Bell. That quote emphasizes the desirability of retaining a positive outlook on things, and highlights the danger of inaction. In other words, there might be times when plans that you might have had your entire life come crashing down and if you look at that closed door too long, you might miss a (possibly better) open one.
For Carlsbad Kickboxing Club’s own Troy Rallings, that statement couldn’t be more true.
In 2016, Rallings felt on top of the world. He had only 8 days left in his college baseball season at the University of Washington, and had amassed a career year. Leading the country in the three most important categories as a relief pitcher, he was ready to fast track through the minor leagues to the big leagues. Three weeks later, his name was called in the 22nd round by his hometown team, The Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim.
However, at the time, Rallings was consulting with a handful of doctors about surgery and rehab options after his elbow gave out just a short time earlier. “Knowing that I was looking at a 12- to 18-month recovery from the infamous Tommy John Surgery to repair severe ligament damage in my elbow, it was difficult to celebrate my ‘draft day,’” he says. “I had a long road ahead of me.
Four months out of surgery and six months from his initial injury, Rallings began training and throwing with newfound motivation at the top baseball performance facility and sports science lab in the country, Driveline Baseball. After 5 months of rigorous training and well ahead of the recovery timetable, he signed his contract with The Angels and officially became a pro baseball player.
However, only eight weeks into an extended spring training in Arizona, and just two weeks shy of his professional debut, Rallings partially tore his elbow once again and just like that, his baseball career was over.
His entire life’s pursuit up to that point came crashing down, but he did not give up. He started his next chapter and opened that next door. Little did he know it at the time, but his role of “The Closer” in college (the pitcher who comes in at the end of the game to secure the victory) set him up for where he is now.
“Each night, as a closer, I needed to be ready to go into the most high-pressure situations and score the win. And each and every time, I left with the gut-level feeling of ‘this is what I was born to do,’” he says.
Once his baseball door was shut, he turned to fighting and truly believe it is the outlet his soul craves. “I believe I was called to fight.” He wants to become the champion he was born to be. “Whether it is on the field or in the ring, I feel at home deep in my innermost being when I am there.”
The comparability between the two sports, he says, is the mentality. “You have to train and prepare to be in peak physical condition,” he says. But the aspect of having to dig deep into your mind, body, and soul to pull out every bit of courage needed to fight each and every day is what drives him.
The part where you truly find out what a person is made of in the ring is what encourages him to continue.
“You face a lifetime of fear and failures, ultimately leaving with no choice, but to overcome them in battle,” he says. “My career as a professional athlete in baseball was cut short. Lord willing, I have been given another opportunity and am grateful to start my fighting career with a team that is so tight knit and community driven.”
Do names like Wes Shivers, Greg Hardy, Brock Lesnar, Bob Sapp, Marcus Jones, Herschel Walker, Matt Mitrione or Brendan Schaub sound familiar? Whether it was due to their size, speed, power, or agility, those are just a few of the many NFL players who have set their sights on some form of mixed martial arts. After a successful football career, many of those men believed that their athletic ability would translate into MMA conquest and they weren’t wrong. It is a good match in theory and their courage goes to show that it is never too late to make that move and follow their desired path of professional fighting. Meet Carlsbad Kickboxing Club’s own Matthew McRoskey. While not a professional fighter (yet), he certainly has the same courage and drive and is one to watch.
The 21-year-old, born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, has has lived most of his life in Encinitas, CA. He grew up playing basketball, football, and running track. Football was by far his highest interest of the three.
He started playing tackle in 6th grade and played from then until now. He played for Santa Fe Christian High School as a wide receiver and safety. From there, he was offered to play D1 ball at the University of San Diego where he played safety for one season. Subsequently, he transferred to Azusa Pacific University and played the remainder of his career there.
McRoskey loves football because of the competition, brotherhood, the athleticism required and the contact nature of the sport. “My favorite aspects of the game are the aggressive side it takes to play at a high level and fully experience the sport for what it is,” he says. But the tactical side, too, is one of his other favorite aspects of the sport. “Football is the ultimate chess match and the academics of the sport are very nuanced. It takes an in-tune mind to play with a high IQ.”
Having grown up never shying away from contact or the “in-your-face” nature of any competition he has been in, McRoskey has always enjoyed MMA. “I loved wrestling with my brother growing up or pretend fighting with my friends. I also have grown to love watching professional fights on TV whether that be MMA, boxing, or anything else,” he says.
McRoskey started muay thai in August, thinking it seemed like the quintessential striking art where he could use his athletic tools like length and power as well as his competitive IQ. While still a newbie to the art, he pushes himself to his physical limit and after trains six days a week and practices often at home or with other martial arts.
“Every day and every rep is important for growth,” he says. “I take that growth seriously so I think I’m off to a good start.” He also says that the sport of muay thai also has given him the chance to take athletics farther in life as a career than football could.
For now, McRoskey is on track to receive his BA in English from APU, and will aim to continue to train and work to achieve his goal of fighting professionally in muay thai and possibly dipping into the MMA world. While we can never be sure what the future holds, he is definitely one to watch and has the right mindset and courage it takes to change course.
If you are interested in learning about how you can switch up any sport you might already have mastered and use those skills and athletic ability to learn the art of muay thai or kickboxing, contact Carlsbad Kickboxing Club to learn more.
Whether your boxing gym has all the latest equipment, the most well-trained instructors and all the right classes, none of that matters if the first impression customers receive is less than par. As with meeting new people, first impressions are important when it comes customer interactions.
Meet 20-year-old Mattea Thompson, one of the key faces you will come across at the front desk at Carlsbad Kickboxing Club.
While some might think the front desk is an easy job, Mattea would agree that it is the touchpoint of nearly everything that happens at the Club. “Those personal interactions can say a lot about your gym,” she says.
Mattea grew up playing soccer, but always loved rough housing with her three brothers, which is perhaps what first attracted her to the sport of boxing. Since officially joining the team in the spring in 2019, she has continued practicing the sport and has implemented two muay thai classes per week with some additional personal training with coaches as well.
A true ambassador for the brand, Mattea takes her role seriously. “I want people to feel at home when they are here. Everyone who enters the front door should be treated exceptionally well and feel welcome.”
Her ultimate goal? “To maintain a strong sense of personal responsibility for the well-being of the Club’s members. I want to continue contributing to helping them reach their personal and life goals.”
While she loves meeting new people, it is Mattea’s passion and love for the job that sets Carlsbad Kickboxing Club above other gyms. “Every interaction is meaningful and could result in someone making a choice to turn their life around and accomplish their goals.”
Click here to inquire about joining Carlsbad Kickboxing Club and try a free class today!
We Will Come Out Stronger Because of This
In 2007, Florina Petcu represented USA Muaythai at the IFMA tournament in Bangkok, Thailand. At the time, she had only four fights but the opportunity was available and she wanted it bad. With some amazing teammates who were very supportive, she wanted to represented the US to the best of her ability.
Before the tournament started, her shin was very badly injured. Her first fight was against Turkey and the nerves set in. It wasn’t her best performance, but she won despite the nerves and despite the shin injury.
She was the underdog, but knew she deserved to be there. She gained confidence, won her second fight versus South Africa but by the time she got to her third and final fight against Russia, her shins were in pain and she was told she should pull out of the tournament.
For her, like so many small businesses in this environment, quitting just wasn’t an option. The decision ended up being controversial but she finished the tournament as the silver medalist.
What asked what she learned from it, she said that she was proud of the fight, left everything she had in there, and that things happen for a reason.
Carlsbad Kickboxing Club also believes that setbacks, like Petcu’s for example, will help you come back stronger and force you to go to places you didn’t think were possible. Carlsbad Kickboxing Club owner Rolando Montano says that while the pandemic certainly presents its challenges, it forced him and his team to navigate the unknown, and the setback will certainly make them stronger.
FOCUS ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, PUNCH UP YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE
Whether you are looking to improve your overall health, mental health, learn some new skills, or just want to take your work out to the next level, there are many ways to improve your fitness routine. And after being holed up in your house thanks to COVID-19, there is no better time than now.
No matter what type of workout you do—whether group class or individual work out—you should be sweating, you should be tired, you should do it safely and you should really push yourself to see results.
Here are a few easy ways to punch up your exercise routine to improve your mental health.
MAKE SURE YOUR EXERCISE IS QUALITY:
For those who might have to fit in a gym session in between your work day, you know that quality is key if you want results. You simply cannot just check off the box that you went to the gym.
Carlsbad Kickboxing Club, for example, recently created a new power boxing bag class that combines a 30-minute intense sweat session, with cardio boxing. Not only does it make you feel alive after being cooped up for so long, but it helps you to continue keeping your distance if that is your current safety level. Group classes like this are convenient, fun, high energy, and guaranteed to burn maximum calories.
MAKE IT A ROUTINE, HAVE A PLAN:
The hardest part in starting a work out routine is actually the “getting started” part. But once you do, taking it to the next level is the hard part. That means sticking to it even when busy schedules might get in the way.
The most important part is to ditch the all-or-nothing attitude and realize that you don’t have to force yourself into hating the experience. A little exercise is better than no exercise.
What is most important is to stay motivated, stay consistent, find a workout that is flexible for you and over time, fitness part of your daily routine and the physical (and mental) payoff will come.
Above all, listening to your body, stay motivated and choose fitness exercises that make you feel happy and confident.
If you are interested in learning more about how Carlsbad Kickboxing Club can help you reach your goals, click here for a free trial.