BC Fight Club is gaining popularity

Thursday, July 3, 2008
Local fighter John Gouvion, of Cassville, is a member of the Barry County Fight Club. He is pictured after winning his fight at the Cage Knock-Out event held in Pierce City on June 20. There are currently 25 fighters training with the local mixed martial arts club. Democrat Photo/Travis Mounce

Founded and led by J.D. Hunter, the Barry County Fight Club has been training and fighting for two years. As of now the club consists of 25 members, mostly males, although women are encouraged to join as well. Although participants must be 18 years of age to fight, younger athletes may train with parental consent.

The club trains at the sale barn on Old Sale Barn Road in Cassville but is planning to relocate soon to another location in Cassville. According to Hunter, fighters work out every day with many averaging 20 to 30 hours per week.

Members also cross-train with RWTB, another Cass-ville-based group that also competes in cage fighting events. This allows the members to train with a more diverse offering of students and further broaden their exposure to typical fighting styles encountered in the mixed martial arts arena.

On Fridays, the club trains with Rudy Lindsey, a long-time trainer and professional mixed martial artist. Lindsey coaches the members in the art of Ju Jitsu, a discipline that is especially valuable to cage fighters in grappling situations where striking with hands and feet is limited.

The club typically participates in fights every weekend. Hunter says that they fight in local towns and as far away as St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Rogers, Ark. The fights are open to the public with an average admission price of $25.

Ultimately, Hunter hopes that people in the community will take an interest and come out to see what all of the fighting is really about. While Hunter claims that he does this "for the love of the sport," he also hopes that people will see the value in training and fighting.

One benefit in Hunter's opinion is the teaching of self defense, but he feels that it goes deeper than that.

"There is no hatred or animosity in the ring," says Hunter. "We are teaching kids how to be respectful and what good sportsmanship is."

Over the years many have criticized the sport as being too violent and brutal. Hunter believes otherwise, saying "this is not violent. Violence involves hate."

Furthermore, during the fights, no unsportsmanlike conduct is tolerated. Any such action results in immediate suspension. Hunter believes that everybody, especially children, should watch because they will learn that hatred and fighting do not have to go hand in hand.

Another concern for many people outside of the sport is the possibility of injuries resulting from a fight. At a recent fight, held in Pierce City, Hunter had plenty to say about this subject as well. As a fighter, the first line of defense is training, but there are many rules that are strictly enforced in the cage.

"The use of elbows, foot stomps, head butts and knees to the head are not allowed and will result in the ending of a fight," said Hunter. "Fighters also have the choice of ending a fight if they feel that they cannot continue fighting."

In the time Hunter has been fighting, he recalls seeing only three people go to the hospital. Referee Zane Davidson, the mediator in the ring at the recent Pierce City fight, also offered his comments before the fighting started. Davidson.

"I've seen one person get a cracked bone," said Davidson, who has been a fighter and referee since 1985. "Boxers suffer more damage in one fight than mixed martial arts fighters do after many fights."

Davidson feels that part of the reason for this might be that mixed martial artists spend an average of 80 percent of a typical fight on the ground and only 20 percent of a fight on their feet striking. Davidson claims that during a fight, the swiftness of the referee's judgment is of the utmost importance in terms of the safety of the fighters and he "takes this very seriously."

The crowd at Pierce City, which included fans of all ages, gender and race, seemed thrilled to watch their local fighters do what they love to do. It was not uncommon during the event for audience members to have to stand up in order to see the action as many anxious and excited fans stood to cheer on their favored fighter.

The event showcased 24 fighters in 12 fights, including one bout between two women. The atmosphere was not hostile, and although there were plenty of security members and police officers on hand, there were no problems between spectators or competitors outside of the cage. The level of respect displayed by the fighters seemed very genuine as many shook hands or even hugged each other after their fight was over.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the event was that in the midst of all the action, Hunter was achieving one of his most valued accomplishments.

"We are keeping these young people off the street and providing them with a positive form of recreation," Hunter said. The club founder also shared that he has had more than one parent compliment him on how his club has made a major and very welcome change in their child's life. He admits that even his own father has told him that this was the best thing he could have ever done for himself.

For more information about the Barry County Fight Club, stop by the gym or go see a fight. Fans and new members are always welcome.

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  • Nice and well done sight----You have a good staff. (Story Comment) -Of all the sports going on right now, the Olympics, Tour de France and local 'true' school sports almost here, this is what I get in sports. I substitute teach during the school year and last year there was a fight 'trash' club event at Washburn schools. I could not believe a school would allow this to be anywhere near children. I told some friends and family that teach at other schools and out of state. They didn't believe me, so I checked into it further and there it was in black and white letters in front of the school 'fight trash to be held'... Told them all again and they were silenced in disbelief. With all the troubles in schools these days, that a school would allow this. Even in the evening after school. It should have been reported not only to the state but also federally. -I would like to see a study that would test the average intelligence of these fight trash competitors. I'd risk a bet, well there is no risk about it. I'd bet with full confidence 'across the board' that a good part did not finish highschool. Remember! Children learn from us. They do what we do.---Joe, a.k.a Remembrance (Hunter S. Thompson)

    -- Posted by Joseph on Fri, Jul 11, 2008, at 12:36 PM
  • Although I respect your concerns regarding promoting fighting at school, your comments lead me to wonder if you took the time to read the entire article on the Barry County Fight Club.

    The first paragraph in the article states that fight club members must be 18 years of age to fight and minors are only allowed to participate in training with parental consent.

    Also, as JD Hunter points out in the article, the club members teach respect and sportsmanship, and they do not allow fights that are instigated by hatred or animosity.

    Those who have watched ultimate fighting on television know that most of the sport involves wrestling techniques, which are also often taught as a school-sponsored sport. In a time when child obesity is becoming more prevalent each day I would think that any activity that youngsters are interested in, which promote physical fitness and training, should at least be considered with an open mind.

    No, the sport is not for everyone but I find it amusing that your comments on the Barry County Fight Club seem to contain more hatred than the sport itself contains.

    -- Posted by reed on Tue, Jul 15, 2008, at 1:01 PM
  • Awwwwww? You are right. Professional ultimate fighters are trained in mixed arts. These fools in Barry County are not. There might be one or two that took a Karate class or two. But if one has seen the clip of the local fights posted on this site, the fighters haven't a clue about martial arts and seem to be violently street-fighting. They bare knuckle brawl and are headed towards self-destruction, especially after this trend ends in Barry County and they start having parties associated with meth-heads and drunks reminiscing of the past. (I have been told by a kid that meth is involved with some of these kids). There are some good kids involved I'm sure, but this should be no where near our schools or children. Remember what children see children do. Mark my words only bad can come of this. Give these uneducated brawlers a justified excuse to fight and watch the jails fill up, 18 or not they will fight anywhere. As for reading the article, I don't know fight trash language. They didn't offer that at my school. You are a very good writer, maybe a good debate could spark some action. ----Joseph

    -- Posted by Joseph on Sun, Jul 20, 2008, at 2:37 PM
  • I'd like to say that I'm sorry! It is a shame that you feel that way. Just so you know I have officers that train at Barry County Fight Club. Obviously they have all been to college. We have 2 high school grads. One of the grads leave for the Marine Corps. in October selected for special ops. That takes some doing by itself. The state conducts random drug tests. It seems you have not researched the sport in any way. The sport is not bare knuckle and a referee oversees the matches and is responsible for the safety of the fighters. This is no different than boxing. It is also documented there have been less injuries in this sport than boxing or football. The fighters show a lot of respect for each other and I've never seen a person on meth have any respect for anyone or anything. I would like to invite you to attend an event before you form an opinion.

    Who knows you might like it or at least learn to appreciate the sportsmanship and dedication involved. I would like to let you know that I did graduate from high school.

    -- Posted by barry co. on Thu, Jul 31, 2008, at 11:07 PM
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