In today's MMA landscape, training is everything. Talent, at one time, the most important ingredient in an elite level athlete, can actually be engineered with good training, as evidenced by Tim Sylvia. Legendary fighter and trainer, Pat Miletich, calls Tim "the poster boy for over achievement." With camps popping up all over the world faster than you can snap your fingers, it's becoming harder and harder to quickly determine where to sink your hard earned money, especially if you're training for a career. A good gauge of quality is how many world class athletes have put roots down at said gym, the talent level of the instructors, and the different disciplines they offer tutelage in.
In the case of Montreal based Tri Star, you have one of the top 3, pound for pound, best fighters in the world training there. On any given day, you might be surrounded with the likes of Georges St. Pierre, Rory MacDonald, Mark Bocek, Ivan Menjivar, Francis Carmont, Rick Hawn ... the list has many more names, of which are too numerous to post, and it grows larger all the time. One can learn multiple disciplines at Tri Star, from kung fu to t'ai chi, and everything in between. If you're planning on making MMA a career, Tri Star is one of the most best gyms in the world to realize that aspiration.
Tri Star has a rare feature, in that it was one of the first big training centers to offer living quarters for the fighters, directly attached to the main gym. The dorms are like a well organized fighter hotel, complete with maid service and a manager. What one doesn't hear too often, though, is how they're run, or how can up and comers, or even established fighters get a spot in this training mecca. I recently interviewed real estate developer, Robbie Stein, who owns the buildings that house the Tri Star gym and dorm facilities, and is also the mastermind behind Fund-A-Fighter. He gave some insight into the inner workings of the gym and dorm, as well as his work with the Fund-A-Fighter organization, that has been helping fighters gain sponsor money via an innovative site that allows anyone to contribute funds, in any amount.
Criteria For Acceptance To Tri Star & Attached Dorms
We're usually with about 8-10 guys there. Some guys are there full time. George's training partners that fly in, typically stay in the dorms. Tri Star is like a big family, so if you're part of that family, and you need to come in once in a while to train, you're our priority. Take today, for instance. Sean Pierson and Mark Bocek are there. Those are guys that, even if we're full and they call, we'll make sure there's room for them. There are a few guys that live in the area, but want to be closer to the gym during training camps, and so they also get priority status.
There is an application form that has to be filled out for new guys. We want to know who you are, because we don't want to just let anybody into our house, so to speak. Once the application gets approved, if there's a spot when you make your reservation, you're pretty much in.
There are different situations for different guys. You have the business of the gym and the business of the dorms. I know there are a lot of guys out there that definitely can't afford it, so some of the guys do not pay anything. If you're at the amateur level, and you're looking to step your game up, we will make room for you, but it will come at a cost. It does get quite expensive to run. We try to make it as comfortable as possible, with cable TV, wireless internet, maid service twice a week. We basically just try to make sure we cover our expenses, and if we do that, then we've done our job.
There's always someone there overseeing things, be it myself or one of the partners. We have hired a new guy who is sort of the social media guru who has a camera and captures all the fun stuff for us. We also have the staff at the gym, which is just next door. Basically, it's almost 24/7 that someone is there to look after the guys. As serious as the place is, with all the training, it's been a blast. Some really funny stories come out of those dorms. Just having a guy like Miguel Torres out here makes things very funny. A lot of pranks get pulled in the dorms.
The idea for it probably dates back to about four or five years ago. I became fascinated with crowd sourcing and crowd funding. Kickstarter was the big thing and I was amazed to see numerous people support an individual in a time of need.I knew Firas because I own the building where Tri Star is housed. We had developed a friendship and I spent a lot of time at the gym. When I started taking note of the fighters, especially when they were pointed out as UFC fighters, I assumed they were rich and doing well, financially. It didn't take very long for me to find out that it could be very far from the truth. Over time, I got to know different fighters and their struggles, and FundAFighter, basically became a reality.
There were so many guys that inspired the site. I got to know a lot of them. One that sticks out in my mind is when I got to know David Loiseau. He's a phenomenal fighter and has such a big heart. He came from an era where the pay scales were so much smaller than they are today. Here was a guy who fought for a championship and headlined a PPV. I see the struggles he goes through, and as time goes on, age plays a role in wearing you down. All that work, and you reach a point where you don't know where to go or what to do with your life.
There are guys that struggle from the amateur level, the regional level, and even being on the undercard for the UFC. You have guys like Ivan Menjivar, who up until recently, had a full time job as airport security. He didn't quit that job, either. He actually got laid off. Here's a guy that has been fighting for years, and couldn't make it without that full time job.
You can follow FundAFighter via their Twitter account @FundAFighter