Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
No one was surprised when Fight Club 29 won the California State Pankration Championship. They’ve won two years in a row and they weren’t going to just let the title go. Fighting is in their blood and they are a tight group of competitors.
Fight Club 29 is made up of a wide variety of characters, Marines, sailors, retired service members; men and women. They have gigantic personalities and they fight hard as a family.
“Whoa whoa whoa, his first name is ‘Coach,’” This is one of the things that Arthur Powell tells when you talk to Fight Club 29 coach, Mark Geletko.
Powell has been with the team for a few years and has become one of their veteran fighters. He’s affectionately been nicknamed “Nino Brown” after a Wesley Snipes character in the 1991 movie, “New Jack City.” His karate background and his need for an athletic outlet when he enlisted in the Marine Corps brought him to the team. “Nino” is just one of the characters that make up the cast of this award winning organization.
Fight Club 29 is more than just a team of fighters. They are a group of curious personalities, which together, make up a family. The team has grown exponentially since their inception a few years ago.
The team has overcome hardships and adversities. Injuries and almost an ever changing roster and budgetary concerns, the FC29 fighters continuously push to be the best at what they do.
“This is one of the hardest working clubs that I’ve had,” Geletko said. “As far as being professional and putting in work coming to the gym on a regular basis and preparing, you don’t have to beg them to come in and scream and holler at them to work hard. They come in and they know what they have to do.”
Fight Club 29 is a well-rounded. They come from all walks of life and different style of martial arts. Geletko, a retired Marine Corps sergeant major, manages the group of active-duty Marines and sailors as well as civilians and former military team members.
“It’s a very diverse group. We have a lot of different martial arts backgrounds and styles that we brought together for MMA.” Gelteko said. “We’ve got guys that come from strikers as youngsters. Some guys come from Karate backgrounds, guys from Muay Thai and then we have our stone cold wrestlers. When you train with different styles you get better, you learn. We train each other, we train the tribe. We can’t say we’re one style of club. We’re a true MMA club right now.”
When it comes to their training, they joke around here and there but at the end of the day, it’s about fighting. They take it seriously. They train to be the best and so far they are amongst the best. This is one aspect that lend into their functionality. The teams multifaceted fighting approach their attitude toward each other does wonders for the teams as a whole
“It’s way more than just a team,” Powell said. “Coach is very like a father figure to us. Sean is like my crazy uncle and Dahlen is like my brother.”
The team likes to have a lot of fun too. It keeps them cohesive and a solid group.
“We have a lot of big personalities,” Geletko said. “It’s good though. It keeps everyone on their toes. I think it makes guys want to train with us. We treat it like a family. There’s not a lot of tension between us. We generally care about each other. We enjoy each other’s company.”
Even new members to the team are welcome with open arms.
“I've only been with the team for a month and they welcomed me like family,” said Justin Robinson. “I love it. It's a family atmosphere in Fight Club 29. They have experience in all kinds of areas and I'm picking up all sorts of things. It's not like any club I've ever seen before.”
With their latest win at the California State Pankration Championship at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., it only builds on their reputation as top contenders. They took to the event with 14 fighters and had high expectation.
They routed the competition and won first place in the team standing by more points than the other top teams combined. They won eight medals total with four being gold.
Fight Club will continue to change and progress as a team in the years to come. Coach Geletko will always expect the best from his fighters and that they remain one unorthodox family.