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Arthur Powell, a fighter with Fight Club 29, front kicks his opponent during the Camp Pendleton Pankration Invitation Feb. 26, 2011, in San Mateo, Calif. Powell went on to win the gold medal in the 160 pound bracket.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson

Underdog fighters come out on top

4 Mar 2011 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Anderson Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Fight Club 29 traveled to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to participate in a pankration tournament in San Mateo Feb. 26, 2011.

This was the first pankration, or striking, tournament a majority of the team’s fighters have experienced, as opposed to the grappling tournaments they usually participate in.

“I didn’t expect to go as far as I did,” said Thomas Murphy, a fighter on the team who is fighting in his first pankration tournament. “There is no skill division, only weight. So I can be up against fighters way more experienced than me.”

The teammates, aware of their inexperience in official tournament pankration, trained exceptionally hard to prepare for it.

“I was very confident in their training before we came,” said Mark Geletko, the coach of Fight Club 29. “These guys were doing three-a-day [physical training] sessions. I could tell they wanted it.”

The all-day tournament featured a mix of military and civilian fighters. With only six Marines, Fight Club 29 held their ground extremely well, considering they were up against 22 separate teams.

“Striking went well for us,” Geletko said. “They listened to us really well. We had some issues getting caught in submissions, so we are going to work on that.”

Toward the end of the tournament, the team became the underdog victors. Out of the 22 teams, Fight Club 29 hooked second place in the team competition.

Along with their success as a team, Arthur Powell, a first time pankration fighter, won gold in the 160 pound bracket.

“I was fighting one fight at a time,” Powell said. “Before I knew it I was in the finals. There are definitely still things I need to work on, though.”

The team is currently training for the Armed Forces Championship at Camp Pendleton in May, and the National Tournament in Las Vegas in June. Both will be pankration matches.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms