My entire life I have been attracted to fighting sports. Growing up in the Los Angeles area I was introduced to boxing at a local gym where "gentle" beat-downs were common.
It made me tough and thick skinned. As an athlete, I used this toughness to my benefit whenever possible. |
The mental and physical toughness I had developed came in handy when I became a U.S Marine at 17 years old. The experiences I was exposed to in the military and in the streets added to my attraction to self defense and fighting sports.
In business, my image has always been important. I believe in being strong, being prepared and eager to learn more. I believe that my leadership and communication qualities have been amongst my strongest attributes as I have matured as a business professional.
After years of training in karate studios, I began training at the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California in 1997. Over the next few years I established relationships with professional and amateur fighters and many respected instructors like (AKA owner) Javier Mendez, Bob Cook, Frank Shamrock, Jean Claude Leuyer, Jerome Turcan, David Velasquez, Danny Kelly, and Brian Johnston, just to name a few. I wanted to become involved in the fight game but wasn't sure how.
In 2000, I became friends with Dana White. This was prior to Dana completing the purchase of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and forming the company "ZUFFA". Dana was managing MMA athletes such as Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Tiki Goshen. We had a few phone conversations prior to meeting in person in Las Vegas. We had dinner and spent hours talking about our favorite sport…MMA!!
Dana and I had a great first meeting. He called promoters from our dinner table like PRIDE, King of The Cage (KOTC), and the International Fighting Championship and simply asked that they take my call over the next few weeks. I contacted them all and they were very receptive to establishing a relationship.
Also in 2000 I became good friends and a business partner of Alan Wiese. Alan is a true MMA fan.
During this same time my friends at AKA felt that with all of these MMA contacts I could manage MMA fighters. Javier Mendez and Brian Johnston encouraged Bobby Southworth to let me represent him and secure fights for Bobby.
Alan Wiese recognized that I was developing significant relationships and motivated me to pursue management agreements with many of the fighters that were accessible to me. Alan was also offering to provide funding capitol to cover business expenses. He encouraged me to develop our new endeavor as managers and mentors to fighters.
The first fight I booked was Bobby Southworth versus Vitor Belfort in PRIDE.
In the ring after a knockout win
at PRIDE with Quinton Jackson*
Tommy as a U.S. Marine loading the gun of a fighter jet as a member
of the Top Gun Squadron