There are many gyms throughout the world of combat sports. Some fighters stay at the same gym with the same trainer for their entire careers. Some fighters switch from gym to gym. Some gyms are more than just a gym, displaying a true family-like bond between fighters and coaches. Mike's Gym is more than just a gym.
The bond between trainer and fighter at Mike's Gym is a special one. Fighters like Melvin Manhoef and Badr Hari have rejuvenated their careers under the tutelage of Mike Passenier. Mike has taken fighters from deep struggles and they have risen to prominence with him by their side.
The moments before the fight are intense. Most intense are right before the fighter makes his way to the ring. Mike reminds the fighter of everything they've been through, how they got to their current position and to go out there and leave it all in the ring. In a way, it unleashes the inner beast of a figure like Badr Hari or Melvin Manhoef. Badr went from a skinny Moroccan kid to an absolute monster of a man under Mike Passenier.
Sergei Lascenko and Artur Kyshenko were two fighters who had made their careers fighting out of the Captain Odessa team in Ukraine. Both found themselves at a crossroad in their respectice careers. Two losses in a row for Kyshenko. Three consecutive losses for Lascenko. Artur and Sergei looked towards Mike Passenier to take them under his wing, and the results have been spectacular. Sergei, known in his K-1 stints for being chubby and out of shape, lost weight and went on a five fight winning streak to this date. Kyshenko also won five in a row, dropping his last bout in the intense final third fight of the night at the It's Showtime Fast & Furious 70MAX Tournament.
The scene after Saturday's SuperKombat World Grand Prix final match was one of pure joy. Sergei Lascenko overcame a swarming Ismael Londt to score a huge victory over a year after people had written him off. He was embraced by Mike Passenier in one of the purest moments you'll see in combat sports. Despite Sergei's lack of English, the bond between him and Mike Passenier needs no speech to show how strong it has become over the past year. The two of them and Artur came together in the ring to celebrate just how far they had come, together.
The bond between coach and fighter is not just exclusive to certain fighters at Mike's Gym. All the fighters share a bond with Mike, from Murthel Groenhart to the retired Joerie Mes. Mike stays firmly behind his fighters through and through, no matter the outcome. The sense of a family community at Mike' Gym is what makes it more than just a gym.