Tonight, Glory World Series will be running their 19th event from Virginia, whereby we will be treated to a welterweight tourney and a heavyweight title fight between Rico Verhoeven and Errol Zimmerman. There is violence in our stars, and it will be beautiful.
On this card is a relative unknown 22-year-old named Robert Thomas, who will be squaring off against crowd pleaser, Joe Schilling. Thomas, who has been fighting both as an amateur and professionally for the last 8 years, has faced top tier competition already in Artem Levin, and feels he's ready for the challenge Schilling presents.
Bloody Elbow recently spoke with the "White Dragon" (whose nickname came from a movie poster), about his background, thoughts on Schilling and what it was like fighting a grown man in Mexico for his very first fight at the tender age of 14. Here's what he had to say:
Growing up in the Thomas household
I'm the youngest and the only boy. I have two older sisters, and we were all pretty athletic. My parents made sure they kept us active in sports, and being the youngest, I felt my job was to always try to outdo my sisters [laughs].
From a very young age, no matter what sport it was, hockey, lacrosse, track & field, my dad instilled in all of us the "always practice" philosophy, so I would spend hours in the driveway shooting the puck in a net or throwing the lacrosse ball in the net. If I had a track & field event, I'd be sprinting up and down the street, or racing my sisters. I was always practicing. My oldest sister has 4 years on me, and we always got in fights. My dad likes to say that the reason I'm good is because my sister used to beat me up.
Fighting a grown, 25-year-old-man at the age of 14
It was during summer vacation, around July, I think, when I first started training. Within a month, I had an exhibition match. It was a real fight, and they weren't expecting me to win, but I ended up beating the kid. He was supposed to be going to Mexico to fight for Team Canada the next month, but I ended up taking his spot.
I'd only been training about a month and my parents hadn't even met my coach. They got a call from my coach, asking if he could bring me to Mexico to fight. They were super nervous, but were supportive. My dad told my coach to keep a close eye on me, because I can be a bit of a handful. I had a lot of teenage energy [laughs].
So I was on this trip to Mexico, to fight a grown man, I mean the dude had a beard, and I was a super small kid. The fight was at 125, and I was trying to gain weight to make 125. I weighed in at 118 to fight the 125 pound national champion. I didn't win, but I went all 5 rounds with the guy.
Check out all our Glory 19 event coverage right HERE
Fighting in Iran
I fought in Calgary and won a Pan American title there, so I got invited out to a tournament in Iran. It was the Peace & Sport Games. We were kind of on lockdown with i.d. tags that had to be scanned when we were coming and going. There weren't any banks to exchange our money in, so we didn't have any money for food or other items, or at least they wouldn't take us to one.
They fed us two meals a day, these boxed meals. The reason they did that is because the first day we were there, they had a buffest set up, but all the athletes had gone a whole day without eating and had a full day of fights. At 10 pm, they finally set up a buffet. Everybody was trying to get their food first, and it got to the point where nobody was using the serve-ware, they were just scooping up food with their hands and slapping it on their plates. Fights were almost breaking out, with some shoving going on. It was just pure savagery. It was crazy.
So, after that incident, we only got boxed lunches. That wasn't very fun. I am a large fellow and those boxes were nowhere near enough.
He's really good in a scramble, but he seems to close his eyes when he throws. Both those last highlight reel finishes he had his eyes closed. He throws those big haymakers and managed to catch those guys. With Manhoef in Bellator, he was stepping backwards and threw that right hook, and his eyes were closed, and it was like he threw it with only a prayer, and just happened to catch him.
That said, he's super dangerous like that. Obviously, I have to be careful. I don't want to get too anxious and just rush in, because that's when he catches people and puts them out. He's got so much heart, and that counts in a big way.
I feel like a lot of the hype behind him is because they're trying to break into the American market, so they need a poster boy. Joe's the top American, so they're really putting a lot of hype behind him. Do I think the hype is warranted? Absolutely.
You can catch Robert and Joe's fight tonight starting at 630 pm EST. Get all the details from the Glory website right HERE.