Being dominant in kickboxing is not an easy feat. However, Augusta's Team Greubel sure makes it seem that way.
After a pair of elite summer events, the fighters from Greubel's Mixed Martial Arts brought home two world titles and five U.S. championships. Led by brothers John and Mark Greubel, the team's first order of business for the summer was the IKF World Classic in Orlando, Fla., on July 19-20. From there, two of the Team Greubel representatives came home with world title belts.
One of those belts belongs to Nathan "The Natural" Key, a Lakeside graduate and 2006 IKF Junior Fighter of the Year. Key was forced to fight three times in one day in order to walk away with the top prize.
"It was pretty taxing. What made it easier, though, was that my first fight was my hardest fight," Key said. "I was able to get all of the cobwebs out early and knock out my last two opponents. I had to do that because I knew if I had to fight two more bouts, three rounds each, it would be bad."
The second world title for the team almost never happened. Tony Lester, who had only been with the gym for less than seven months prior to the World Classic, had fought a lackluster fight the week before the trip in an event in Gaffney, S.C. His performance nearly cost him his spot on the team's roster.
"I told him that I was not going to let him represent my gym in Orlando because of how poorly he fought," said Mark Greubel, Team Greubel's co-head coach and an assistant on the U.S. kickboxing team. "He kind of begged and pleaded with me, assuring me that he would do the things he had to do to get it done."
After Greubel eventually relented, Lester took care of business. Lester had to fight four times in one day, a grueling schedule the likes of which his coach said that he's never heard of.
"After each fight, I would tell myself, 'You got one more to go, one more to go,' trying to take it one fight at a time instead of thinking I've got to fight four times," Lester said.
To make things tougher on him, all four of his fights went the distance. After that performance, he had erased any doubts his coach had about him.
"Man, he really came through. He really made me proud," Greubel said.
In August, Team Greubel would once again assemble for a major event. This time it was the W.A.K.O. United States Championships in Chicago. Greubel sent five members to the championships, all of whom came home as champions.
Key would once again add to his belt collection after having to fight in the 175-pound weight class just two weeks after fighting in the 150-pound weight class in Orlando.
Cameron Lamb also took home a title for Team Greubel by a unanimous decision.
"It was great. That was the first championship I won, so that's pretty good," Lamb said.
Lamb, a U.S. Junior Kickboxing team member, will compete in September in the W.A.K.O. Junior World Championships in Naples, Italy. Adding to the belt total for Team Greubel were Nicholas Torrance, Tyler Chavous and Cord Connaway.
Torrance, who would TKO both of his opponents, had won a national championship in boxing earlier in the year in Augusta. Chavous, who's been with Greubel for roughly two years, won a split decision over a New York fighter who had four more years of experience than him. Connaway won a pair of unanimous decisions to earn his title.
"I couldn't be prouder of these guys," Greubel said. "They're coming in here day after day and working so hard to get in shape to fight. Everybody wants to fight, but nobody wants to train to fight. These guys realize that there is a lot of hard work that goes into preparing for battles."
Reach Joey Jones at (706) 724-0851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.