Clinton Township — The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.
Or at least that’s what they say in the 1999 Brad Pitt movie. Closer to home in Clinton Township, owners of a new boxing and martial arts training center called Four Aces Fight Club are more than happy to talk about their new venture.
The quartet held a grand opening for the gym over the weekend, and classes were scheduled to begin Monday.
The group set up shop on 15 Mile between Gratiot and Harper. The Four Aces Fight Club’s gym is a 7,500-square-foot facility featuring a 24-square-foot mixed martial arts cage and a full-sized boxing ring.
“We’re open for men, women and kids,” said Greg Parris, a mixed martial arts fighter and one of gym’s four backers — the “Aces” in the fitness center’s name. “Whether you just want to get into shape or you like boxing, MMA, kickboxing or jiu-jitsu … we’re going to put them all together.”
Parris’ cohorts are Asa Beard, its head boxing instructor, Luigi Gjokaj, a licensed professional boxer who will use his connections in the fight world to promote the gym, and entrepreneur Paul Mauk.
Mauk, who is co-owner of the Detroit Pub sports bars in Detroit, Clinton Township and Mount Clemens, said his lifelong interest in boxing prompted him to invest in the gym.
“I think it’ll be great for kids,” he said. “It’ll teach them a lot about discipline and respect. It’ll also get them away from being in front of the television.”
The foursome feels now is the perfect time to open the gym, despite the region’s punch-drunk economy, Parris said.
“We’re going to offer discounts (for our classes) because we know times are tough,” said the 22-year-old from St. Clair Shores.
The group is banking on the increasing popularity of the martial arts to attract students.
For the past nine years, the martial arts industry has been among the top three growth sports in the United States, along with bowling and roller skating, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. The Washington, D.C.-based association represents more than 1,000 sporting goods manufacturers and retailers.
In addition to classes, the four plan to organize exhibitions of mixed martial arts fighting and boxing bouts, Parris said.
“People are always thirsty for entertainment and we plan to hold some great shows,” he said.
By: Charles E. Ramirez / The Detroit News