Like or hate him, one thing is certain, Mike Passenier is one of the biggest names in kickboxing today. Combat sports figures from many disciplines have found a home at Mike's Gym. Among the many superstars who have called his gym home names like Badr Hari, Melvin Manhoef, Murthel Groenhart are a few of the most notable. Definitely an affable character with a penchant for quick dry wit, don't be fooled by his big smiling brown eyes and equally large grin. Mr. Passenier is a shrewd business man.
In our chat before Glory 15, Mike fielded questions regarding his plans for 2014, Badr Hari and his style of training.
SW: What are your plans for 2014?
MP: I want to do more with social media, I'm having someone work on becoming more active with that. I am also planning on expanding my gym franchise to include other locations.
His plan to expand his franchise is indicative of his calculated risk taking and no nonsense approach to life. When asked how he describes his training style, Mike characterizes his style of coaching as hands on, but demands respect from his trainees and teaches with the expectation that the fighters take responsibility for their roles in victory and defeat.
SW: Who are you currently working with?
MP: Well, there's Saki who's here for the tournament. Also still Badr Hari, Murthel and Artur Kryshenko.
SW: You also train MMA fighters... I know at one time Muhammed Lawal was training in your gym.
MP: Yes a lot of guys.
SW: Speaking of Badr, is there any truth to the rumor that he has signed to fight with Glory?
MP: No, you know people see or hear that maybe he's meeting with someone then they automatically assume that he's signed with them but not right now. Not true.
As an observer, Mike appears to train a wide variety of personality types with varying skill levels.With that observation in mind, I tried to ascertain what qualities he looks for in the fighters he takes on.. His response to this question was a bit more abstract, not identifying one or any certain combination of qualities as a predictor of success.
For those who might not take him seriously, Mike could care less! Right now he has found a formula for success and he plans to make it grow. He and his brand have risen like the mythical Phoenix from the ashes of his former gym that was lost in a fire in 2009. The new Mike's Gym is spacious and has state of the art equipment, but he also maintains respect for older, tried and true regimens that enhance strength, agility and speed among his fighters. In addition to gym facilities, Mike stated that he also has a residence at which the fighters can live while they train with him.
At the end of this interaction, Mike revealed himself to be a complex individual who surprisingly enough, when he's not motivating fighters in the gym, admits that he enjoys watching pro wrestling with his son. But again, perhaps not so surprising at all as Mike easily cops to having his own flair for building up fights and making things exciting in the ring.