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'Hollywood ' looks forward to big fight close to home

Joshua "Hollywood" Hancock loves the sport of mixed martial arts in the cage.

Hancock, who is known to family and friends simply as "Josh," is set to take on Tony Cantrell in his next fight. It will be held at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center on Saturday, June 26.

The upcoming fights are sanctioned under the South Carolina Boxing Commission.

The card features both amateurs and professional competitors with Hancock's fight slated to start about 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the USC Aiken Convocation Center Box Office or by calling 866-788-8877. More information can found at

"I'm looking forward to this fight," said Hancock during an in-depth interview with The McDuffie Mirror on Monday. "I'm training very hard for it. I'm looking forward to fighting this close to home."

This marks the first time that he's ever had a professional fight scheduled this close to Thomson -- the place he's called home since 1998. Hancock, whose parents are George and Ramona Hancock and who also call Thomson home, are most proud of their son and how far he has gotten in a sport he loves with all of his heart.

Hancock equally is proud of himself and his accomplishments.

"I've come a long, long way since I first began this sport," said Hancock, a 1992 graduate of Harlem High School.

He began taking martial arts classes when he was just 9 years old. His love of martial arts since has taken him to all kinds of heights -- from amateur ranks to the professional side of the sport. He fought on the amateur side for nearly two years before he turned pro, winning four of six fights.

"It's been hard work, but I've enjoyed all of it," said Hancock, who works for the City of Aiken in the Recycling Department.

It's a job he's held for nearly two years.

Prior to that, he trained and fought professionally for 10 years.

"I knew I couldn't fight forever, so I decided to get a regular job," explained Hancock.

One of the reasons he chose to work in Aiken is because that's where he trains.

"It just makes a lot of sense to work there since I train there," said Hancock.

He trains under Chris Garland at Carolina-Kodenkan on Whiskey Road in Aiken.

"Chris is a great trainer," said Hancock, noting that he has trained under him for the past year. "He's a great teacher, a great listener and has helped me a lot."

Garland along with Mike Adams serve as his coaches at ringside.

Hancock said getting into martial arts at an early age helped him stay out of trouble.

"It's taught me a lot about discipline and kept me off the streets where I could have gotten into trouble like so many kids do," said Hancock.

That same discipline keeps him sharp in the ring today.

"Discipline is something you must have if you're going to be successful in this sport," he pointed out.

Hancock used discipline to help get him through one of the darkest times of his career when he was seriously injured in a fight in 2006.

He broke his left ankle in a fight in Macon.

He ended up having surgery where doctors used pins and told him his days of fighting were over.

Hancock dispelled their belief.

After three months of physical therapy, he was back doing what he had been doing before getting hurt -- fighting.

"I just wasn't going to let it all end there," said Hancock. "I knew I had worked to hard to let that happen."

Hancock still is shooting for his biggest goal of all.

And time is working against him.

He has aspirations of winning a title in the elite Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).

"That would mean a lot to me, if I could get to that level," said Hancock.

"That's what I'm working towards."

Now in his mid 30s, though, age could become a big factor.

Nevertheless, Hancock has defied the odds before. And he appears determined to do it again.

One of his biggest MMA fights of his career came in front of millions of viewers in Las Vegas last June.

Hancock, who fights in the 170 pound weight class, defeated Shaun Yarbrough in front of an estimated 10,000 people on the campus of UNLV and millions of more viewers who watched via Pay-Per-View Television.

"That was the biggest exposure of my career," said Hancock.

Getting down to his current weight limit wasn't an easy thing to do.

Again, it took discipline, he said.

When he first began fighting, he weighed 205 pounds.

Fighting with reduced pounds has made him much quicker and increased his endurance level, said Hancock.

Because he loves the sport so much, he hopes to stay active in the ring for as long as he can.

Web posted on Thursday, June 10, 2010

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