“The best pace is a suicidal pace and today is a good day to die”. He was full of good quotes! That’s the great thing about distance running….how much can you take? If you think your tough…try distance running!
Teyonni and I are two people that both take risks. We even commit to these crazy challenging things under prepared-which I don’t know if that’s a strength or weakness. But it’s the coach/athlete dynamic that led us to take this risk and it was a risk considering our groups background (previous post). Fight day confirmed we were the underdog. The opponent came from a quality gym in their home town. It was like jumping off a cliff and hoping the parachute was working-but we had no way to test it out prior and we just had to jump. We were a small team diving into this new game far from home.
Once Teyonni got in the ring with her opponent it was a high volume of punches, kicks, and knees. It was an active and intense 6 minutes of striking. Teyonni got dropped by a knee to the body in the first round but like many times in her life she just got back up and fought on. She landed a leg kick that knocked her opponent down in the 2nd round and had a few flurries of punches that cleanly found the target. Overall, our opponent got the better of us, was a good striker, and won the decision. We had trouble with her length, her knees to the body, and her skill set in general. Definitely some positive take aways but also just realizing we have to keep training and continuing to get better. That means working hard, continuing our education, and learning from good coaches whenever we get opportunities for that.
Teyonni become the first one on her team to ever compete. That’s pretty rare in combat sports to have a training group-where they have never competed. We can say we are new, under prepared, etc..but truth is that a lot of people are scared to compete-and I strongly value competition. She also went the distance battling through moments in the fight where it didn’t seem like she would be able to keep going. Most importantly she made a small path into the jungle that athletes in our group will eventually follow and build upon. She is the only person most of them know that has ever competed in any type of combat sport.
It was a significant moment for our team for those reasons, but not glamorous. We always try to win and there are the emotions of disappointment or discouragement after a loss. Sometimes those emotions are devastating when your super invested in something. She wanted to win and do better and I wanted to help prepare her to be successful. We will regroup and come back wiser and more dangerous the second time around. I’ve been around sports for a long time and competed for years in track and field. Any sport endeavor is filled with extreme highs and lows and a lot of success is simply who lasts the longest and doesn’t give up. Hopefully that will be our story in the end!
Inspiration comes from different places, but one thing that always seems to inspire and captivate is a great sports underdog. I have on several occasions walked into the Tigers Den MMA gym in Centerville, Iowa and witnessed something unique taking place. A dedicated group of combat sports professionals teaching with great care a group of young kids. The gym is small and lately more crowded as eager and enthusiastic youngsters attend their favorite class of the week. One of the instructors who spends time investing in these kids lives and development is 25 year old Sinjen Ruby. Sinjen is a promising professional mixed martial artist looking to make his mark in the sport. It’s a journey Sinjen has been preparing for his whole life. From the time he could walk he was learning Muai Thai and other forms of martial arts from his father Chris Jenkins a former boxer and professional kick boxer.
Meeting Chris and Sinjen both you can feel the passion they have for combat sports, martial arts, and MMA. This is a family affair. Singen’s father has greatly impacted his development and has been coaching fighters for decades. Sinjen took his first MMA fight at age 18. He already has 20 MMA bouts under his belt winning 13 of those. Despite the strong family martial arts background one of the challenges facing Sinjen is coming from a small gym. He trains out of Tigers Den MMA that he and his dad operate in Centerville, Iowa (population, 5,000). Not many guys with elite ability train out of small gyms in small towns like Centerville. While he chases his dream Sinjen still has the challenges of working full time, being a father, and coaching at Tigers Den. Those challenges only strengthen his resolve and do nothing to dampen his enthusiasm in working with those old or young alike who come into the gym.
Despite the challenges Sinjen and his Tigers Den team are investing in people in the community and making a positive impact. With limited outlets for youth in the area the gyms classes greatly benefit those who attend. The kids are learning, having fun, and gaining confidence. They are now part of a team and belong to something, which is a big deal for many of the students. The gym provides opportunities for local youth and adults alike that otherwise wouldn’t exist in the area. Sinjen isn’t just fighting for himself. He is also fighting to create opportunities for local youth as well in an area where socioeconomic struggles dominate the landscape.
Sinjen is just one of many underdogs in the small but growing family that is Tigers Den. For kids in the area to see him fight on a televised broadcast opens their eyes to whats possible coming out of a small gym and encourages them to dream big. Sinjen’s talent and skill is apparent to anyone who has watched him fight recently. He is currently preparing diligently for his next fight on June 25th (King of the Cage). Maybe the time is right for this small town gem to be discovered by more mainstream MMA fans. We know the Tigers Den youth will be watching intently as will the entire Tigers Den family. You can watch his next fight on MAV TV (DirectTV 214) coming from Sloan, IA!