GROW STRONG: Ben Pepper works out in his Grow Strong MMA gym. INSET: Fearless/stupid reporter tries out a chokehold.
GROW STRONG: Ben Pepper works out in his Grow Strong MMA gym. INSET: Fearless/stupid reporter tries out a chokehold. Jonno Colfs

MMA expert brings skills to Warwick

THERE'S a new MMA expert in town, but he's not quite what you might expect, for a fighting machine.

Polite, friendly, intelligent, quietly spoken, well-travelled, no visible tattoos and no missing teeth.

That last one is usually sign of skill.

TAP OUT: Reporter Jonno Colfs get the chokehold from MMA trainer Ben Pepper.
TAP OUT: Reporter Jonno Colfs get the chokehold from MMA trainer Ben Pepper. Jonno Colfs

Ben Pepper, the owner and trainer at Warwick's first MMA (mixed martial arts) gym, Grow Strong MMA, is excited about his future in Warwick.

"My partner Sara and I are expecting our first child in August," he said.

"I've only been living in Warwick full time for about four months but I've been coming here for while to see Sara, we really like it.

"I set the gym up before I moved here, to see if it would take off, and it has."

The gym has 25 keen locals training over three nights a week across various disciplines, including submission wrestling, kick-boxing and MMA specific skills.

Mr Pepper said he discovered martial arts when he was eight years old.

"I grew up in Lismore and started with Taekwondo and was very involved until about the age of 14 or 15, culminating with the title of Australasian Junior Champion in 2003," he said.

"After this I started boxing for a few years and moved to kick-boxing.

"From 2008 to now I've been studying Muay Thai and that took me to Cambodia where I spent a year training and working, teaching english and wrestling to locals."

In 2014 Mr Pepper spent three months training at the home of MMA legend George St Pierre, Tristar MMA in Montreal, Canada.

"MMA is a tough sport, mentally and physically," he said.

"Probably more so mentally.

"Big tough guys can come into the gym and be out-grappled by much smaller guys, egos can take a bit of a pounding.

"If people aren't here for the right reasons, I'll send them on their way.

"All the skills I teach are about self confidence, fitness, strength and discipline."

Find Grow Strong M.M.A on Facebook.



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