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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 08:53 pm

Mixed-martial arts fighter opens Springfield gym

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Justin Robbins, center, a Springfield MMA fighter who was featured in IT last June, opened a new gym at the corner of Jefferson and Veterans Parkway in April. He offers wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing and kickboxing classes.

Justin Robbins, a Sacred Heart-Griffin wrestler turned mixed-martial arts fighter who appeared on the cover of IT last June, has punched up efforts to supply Springfield with a new brand of competitors.

On April 15 he opened Robbins Mixed Martial Arts at the corner of Jefferson and Veterans Parkway. The new gym, which specializes in wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing and kickboxing, has attracted nearly 40 members. A few are amateur fighters, but Robbins says he doesn’t just run a fight school.

He teaches wrestling and MMA classes, while his other coaches, Mark Commean and Ryan Molohon, focus on jiu-jitsu and strength and conditioning for both adults and children. The gym also offers personal training sessions and a morning Cardio Kick Mix class for women. A summer wrestling camp, for kids in first through the 12th grade, starts in June.

“Not everyone wants to come to a gym to get punched in the face,” Robbins quips.

Justin Robbins, on the left, has already recruited 30 adults and 10 children to Robbins Mixed Martial Arts.

Robbins lives in Springfield with his wife and two young daughters, but used to travel to Granite City five days a week to train with world-famous ultimate fighter Matt Hughes at the Hughes Intensive Training Squad [see “Blood, sweat and cheers,” June 19, 2008]. He decided, after losing three fights in a row and missing his family, that he needed to spend more time at home.

He left the H.I.T. Squad and decided to open his own gym. A group of fellow fighters had been training in his basement for a couple of months, so he recruited an immediate member base. His 13-7-1 fight record and MMA reputation have also helped draw new members.

“You definitely have to have the credentials,” Robbins says. “You can’t just be a guy who opens a gym. You have to be a guy that has a good background in the sport and has the name to bring people to train at the gym.”

Robbins’ next fight is on June 20 in Indianapolis. He’ll move down a weight class, debuting in the 125-pound, or flyweight, division.

“I think it’s going to be really good for me,” he says.

Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.

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