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Thomson tough guys pursue careers in the ring

Shawn Brooks had been looking for a good fight. A legal fight that is.

The Thomson man found out he loved no holds barred fighting when he watched another Thomson resident Donny Hulgan in the ring. Mr. Brooks wanted to try it for himself, but he had to wait until he was 18.

"I trained for about four months before I turned 18," he said. "That's when I got my fight, two weeks later."

Mr. Hulgan had already begun a successful amateur career in the world of mixed martial arts when he took Mr. Brooks under his wing. The two men began training together at Augusta Martial Arts and Animal House Gym in Dearing.

The first and only fight so far for Mr. Brooks saw him battle his way out of two difficult submission holds for a comeback victory in 3:09.

"He tried to put me into submissions, but I had to hang on, and I worked my way out of that," Mr. Brooks said.

Mr. Hulgan started off with a little more ease. He posted a 0:27 TKO in his first fight and has won all three of his matches in under 1:10.

The two fighters are hoping to get other youngsters involved as a positive influence that will keep them off the street.

"I do it for myself a lot because it's a way to just channel everything, and it's something I've always been good at," Mr. Hulgan said. "I try to give a little bit back to the community these days. ...Kids are out there running the roads, and they want to get involved in it. It teaches kids a lot of discipline."

Despite his small number of fights, the International Sport Combat Federation website currently ranks Mr. Hulgan as fifth in the country. The ISCF is the organization that sanctions amateur mixed martial arts matches.

Both Mr. Hulgan and Mr. Brooks have fights scheduled for Oct. 14 in Ft. Gordon's Gym No. 3. If Mr. Hulgan can beat ninth-ranked Jeremy Stephens of Summerville, S.C. and a few more opponents, he plans to turn professional.

"If I beat him that's a big jump up," he said. "...I plan on fighting 10 fights, and then trying to turn pro. You don't want to jump in too fast. You want them to kind of recognize you."

Mr. Brooks hopes to hand John Stephens, his opponent, a loss on the way to becoming a professional fighter as well.

"We made a pact together," Mr. Hulgan said. "We're going to stick at it. We're going to turn pro, and he's going to be the middle weight champion from Thomson in the pros, and I'm going to be the heavyweight champion."

And someday Mr. Hulgan plans on opening his own gym in Thomson and teaching mixed martial arts.

"We've got a lot of local talent out there. Instead of using it fighting like we used to fight when I was a teenager, we can get them in the gym and channel it another way. I think it would be a great thing," Mr. Hulgan said.

Web posted on Thursday, September 07, 2006

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