In comparing a fight gym to anything, AMA Fight Club is like the fighters that reside inside its doors -- it is unassuming. A store front dojo surrounded by the amenities of every day suburbia: a bagel place, a deli, and the main attraction, a pancake house. AMA is not what most people believe an MMA gym should be. But inside its doors lie some of the best talent of the East Coast MMA scene. UFC fighters like the Miller brothers (Dan and Jim), Charlie Brenneman, TUF 13 cast member Andy Main, and a slew of top notch local professional and amateur fighters are just some of the mixed martial artists that call AMA their home. And after witnessing their Sunday pro training class for myself, it is easy to see why the name AMA is beginning to be the focal point of MMA on the East Coast.
At the head of this new locus of talent is head trainer and owner of AMA, Mike Constantino. There is no question -- this man is the taskmaster. He leads his class of fighters through their drills in a quick and controlled series of demands that no one argues with. He oversees the training with an eagle eye, yet he is just as quick to crack a joke as to correct a technique. It would seem that it is understood that Constantino is the “boss”; just as easily as an amateur fighter yields to his suggestion, as does a UFC fighter.
But with the stable of fighters that he has, along with a proven formula for winning at the top level, there should be no questions. As the bass of the constant stream of rap music fills the training room of AMA, so do the demands of Constantino. A round of sparring followed by focused groundwork and the gym swells; alive with the energy pulsated by the fighters. There is no tension (everyone knows their place), just drive and determination. Determination set upon by the examples of fellow gym members who fly the flag of AMA at the pinnacle of Mixed Martial Arts. The Miller brothers, the Charlie Brennemans, the Ricardo Romeros, who show that although it was assumed that the best pool for developing talent was thought to be out West, AMA may soon be changing that mind-set.
In an interview with Mike Constantino for THEGARV.COM, we discussed his personal journey into martial arts, his views on MMA being legalized in New York, and his growing stable of fighters. Enjoy.