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By Jayson du Toit
We recently got the opportunity to speak to Marc Hebert the head trainer and owner of Gorilla Warfare MMA gym to find out what makes this MMA facility so popular and successful…
KNUXX SA: How was Gorilla MMA established?
MARC: A bunch of us who were training together at another gym decided try find a place that we could train whenever we wanted to, myself and Graham Edwards took the plunge and committed ourselves to creating Gorilla Warfare. Initially Gorilla was just going to be a pro / am fighter’s gym which was not open to the public, but that changed along the road.
KNUXX SA: What type of training facilities does Gorilla MMA offer?
MARC: At Gorilla Warfare we offer the full package, we train out of Nicks professional boxing gym in Melrose North, we have two full sized rings, a rectangular cage, mats and a full complement of bags and accessories.
KNUXX SA: Who are your main fighters for Gorilla MMA and what success have you had in the MMA industry?
MARC: We train the following pros, the former EFC Middle Weight Champion Jeremy the Pitbull Smith and Wade G.O.A.T Henderson. We have worked with Andrew One Gear Van Zyl, Denzil Redstar Wait, Brendon Katz and Jean Luc Kazadi. On the amateur front we look after the soon to be female champ, Santa-Marie Venter, Brendon Davis, Bruce Hudson and Simon Domingoes, we also coach some of the top BJJ competitors in the country.
KNUXX SA: Marc I see that you have had international experience and training with some top names like BJ Penn, tell us more about this.
MARC: I have trained with BJ Penn in Hilo, Hawaii, I stayed there for 5 weeks and trained twice a day most of the time, the sessions were 2 hours and were technical, intense and tough. I learnt a ton and made some good friends after a while, coming into a warrior community’s gym as the new guy is always intimidating as everyone tries to take you out on the mat for the first two weeks.
I travel yearly to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with my coach and mentor John B Will who is a 4th Degree Rigan Machado Black Belt, I’ve helped him coach Cam Rowe, UFC signed athlete, in stand-up while being there, it’s always humbling to be asked to coach such a high level athlete.
KNUXX SA: Comparing to international MMA standards do you think SA MMA stacks up?
MARC: I believe we have some fighters who are top class and can compete on the international stage, Jeremy Smith, Brendon Katz etc., but some of our other top class competitors have been smashed by the international competition. The pool of talent is tiny compared to countries like America; they have more people competing in one state than we have in our entire country. We are behind time wise in the mma race, eventually we will catch up though, we need more people training and competing to raise the level of the local standard.
KNUXX SA: In your opinion are there any areas in SA MMA that we need to focus on in order to bring our standard of MMA up that that of the overseas organizations?
MARC: Most definitely, I truly believe the most neglected are in the local scene is wrestling, not BJJ, but wrestling, the guys struggle to work from the clinch range and there are so few athletes who confidently shoot and take their opponents down, there’s not much wrestling to defend the shot either.. BJJ was not highly regarded until the last few years, thankfully now people have started taking seriously though!
KNUXX SA: You recently went into partnership with well-known boxing coach and Promoter Nick Durandt, how has this move attributed to your business and what can it offer to fighters?
MARC: Nick is a wonderful mentor and I learn from him every time we spend a session together, he has insight into combat sports that most people in the game will only ever dream about. The partnership is great for the fighters as they can now do boxing specific sessions with top class coaches and with world champion level sparring, this helps tremendously with their overall MMA game.
MARC: At Gorilla we believe in experience, we draw upon many people with experience in different realms, from Roger Goncalves with his vast Thai Boxing background, to our World Champion Boxing trainer Nick Durandt to myself and Graham with our love and knowledge of BJJ and Wrestling..
KNUXX SA: What is the key to your success?
MARC: Hard work, dedication, a burning self-belief and most importantly not giving up when others said I would fail.
KNUXX SA: If people want to train or fight for Gorilla MMA how do they go about it?
MARC: Pop in the gym and have a chat or get in touch via phone, twitter or the site