Interview with James Brum
I had a fantastic interview over the weekend with James Brum who is fighting at Shock n Awe 9 at Liquid and Envy, Portsmouth in October against Martin McDonough, a venue that he says is fantastic. James is 24, from Portsmouth and very excited about his next fight and even more so as Shock n Awe 9 is the first event that he will headline at and he considers it one of the most exciting nights of MMA action in the South. Of his opponent, he says Martin will definitely bring the fight to him because he is from Wales and the Welsh are tough and always put on a good show. He warns us to expect an epic fight that we will all be talking about for the months ahead. He has seen his opponent fight a few times and although he used to study opponents, he now knows just how rounded every fighter is and feels this is what makes it so exciting because you never really know what someone is going to do on the night.
James is a well-rounded fighter who concentrates on all the disciplines that go into MMA. He fights out of Gym 01 (www.gym01.com) in Portsmouth under Brian Adams but rather than just concentrate on one discipline such as BJJ he now has a team of different coaches that teach him all the different disciplines. James trains two to three times a day at Gym01 and this usually consists of technical in the morning followed by strength and conditioning in the afternoon with his Coach Lee Waite. Lee has an excellent knowledge and background in nutrition and sport and exercise. They stick to the foundations of strength and conditioning but Lee is always finding new ways to push the intensity and bring James’s conditioning to another level come Fight night. Lately they have been pushing the intensity with the elevation training mask. Coming up to a fight the training is periodised so that he gets himself not just physically fit but also mentally fit. In total he is training in MMA disciplines up to six times a week plus the other sessions of BJJ and Boxing with coaches at GYM01 and also undertakes training on a Saturday in Sparring. Eventually he sees Sunday as a day of rest and it sounds like it is a well-earned rest!
With all the training, I wondered if James has much time for a social life and he tells me that he doesn’t and that everything has to fit in around training. Even visits to the shops all have to go in between the training sessions. He is quick to add that he is not complaining in any way and loves what he does and wants to fight the best in the business so is putting in all the hard work. He dreams of making the big time, fighting around the world and of course, winning a World Title.
So how did James get into MMA in the first place? Well, the story is a little different to the ones I have been told before by other fighters and certainly an interesting one. James used to be a Wrestler and says as a child his hero was Hulk Hogan and The Rock. He did that for a while and used to love watching the WWF fighting DVDs. On one occasion visiting a DVD shop he happened to come across the UFC DVD section and decided to buy one of those DVD’s instead. When he watched it, he was literally blown away by the sport and felt like the MMA fighting was so much more real than the Wrestling. He says he loves the UFC Hall of Fame fighters like Randy Couture and Matt Hughes and his favourite fight of all time is the Tito Ortiz v Ken Shamrock one. It was on moving from London to Portsmouth that saw him start training in MMA himself. At first it was just a hobby as he was concentrating on finishing his degree at University. He felt it was important to gain his educational qualifications so that he always has something other than just fighting to fall back on. But in 2008 he graduated and it was then that he dedicated his life to training full time. James spent three years doing Interclub and Amateur contests but is now in his second year as a Professional. He made his professional debut for Shock n Awe in 2010 so to be headlining the next Shock n Awe is an exciting achievement. He says to do this sport you have to have sponsors or else it becomes financially impossible to focus entirely on training. But as well as training he is also a Door Supervisor during the evenings. He still has to pay the bills after all.
He is excited about his new sponsors MMA-World Ltd (www.mma-worldltd.co.uk) because they are a brand new company who are selling clothing and equipment within the MMA world. They were and still are so impressed with James’s dedication and his fighting displays that they decided to support him. His friends and family get behind him 100% and his Dad also had an interest in Wrestling back when Big Daddy was around. As a youngster, he started to train in Judo but being young, he found being in a hall and having people watch him a little daunting so he grew out of it, something he now wishes he had stuck at as he feels Judo gives you a good base in the world of MMA. His Mum hates the idea of him fighting because he is not just her only son but her only child. She often says ‘I never hit him as a child so why does he want to fight’! But she still supports him in everything he does. James tells me he could never ask for a more loving Mother and Father. James doesn’t always tell his Mum when his fights are, he is more likely to tell her about his next fight but tell her the date is weeks after it actually is. That way by the time she starts to worry about him, he can ring her and tell her the fight is over! But his Mum is really impressed with the amount of dedication he puts into it and likes the motivation he has towards nutrition and fitness.
What James wants to eventually achieve is financial security for himself and his family. His girlfriend met him way back in the beginning of his MMA training so she has never known any different. They both have challenging careers so both work hard and find themselves tired out at the end of a day which usually means they settle down with a DVD rather than go out to the cinema. So they still make time for each other and although his girlfriend gets nervous when he fights, she supports him and gets behind him, even so far as to leave her home town to be with him and shares his dreams of him making the big time worldwide and winning a World Title.
As a Bantamweight fighter James feels he is at the right weight class, having fought at Featherweight in his Semi and Professional career. James believes that there is no one more stronger than him or in the physical condition he is when he enters the cage. He says Brian Adams who is the Co-owner of Gym01 and Lee Waite help him with nutrition and give advice on weight but James himself has a degree in Sports Science so is pretty hot on what is good and what is not.
He doesn’t get a lot of time for hobbies but he has found something he really enjoys and would like to do again when time permits – Indoor Rock Climbing. He went along with a friend who told him he was really good at it but although he doesn’t get a lot of time, it is something he will definitely do again. He says his life is very hectic but that he thrives on having goals because they keep him focussed. He likes to have fights arranged in advance so he has something to train towards and concentrate on.
But I wondered if he ever lets his hair down and enjoys himself, especially after a win. He says he does take a few days off to catch up with friends and family but always gets back to training as soon as possible and this could start with lighter sessions or trying something completely new before he ups his training again. On fight night he does get a little nervous but he calls it ‘positive nerves’ because he knows that he has trained hard and pushed himself hard and that when he is in the cage, he wants to have fun and enjoy it. He obviously wants to win and with a record of 6-2-0 he is doing great but he also wants to put on a good show and give the spectators a fantastic fight. He says he hears the crowd in the distance but hones in on his coach, what he calls tunnel hearing rather than tunnel vision.
So my last question to James was ‘Are you going to win’? He left me with the following words…………..’I am going to bring it physically and mentally and yes of course I am going to win’.
Sounds like if you haven’t already got tickets you need to visit http://www.shocknawe.co.uk to grab yourself some or they can also be obtained from Gym01 in Portsmouth. Photographic Credits to Andy Boldry Photography and Gym01.