Conventional wisdom holds that combat sport is a young man’s game. Oh, sure, you can do a little “white collar boxing” to stay in shape, or maybe do a little judo a couple of times a week for the fun of it. But serious competition? That’s for the young.
Mike Gresh doesn’t believe it.
Two weeks ago, at Reality Fighting: Detonation, the forty-six year old Cape native stepped into the cage to defend his featherweight title. The fight was a three round war that left both men bruised and bleeding, and while Gresh lost the decision, it wasn’t one he gave up easily.
“Oh, he won,” says Gresh with a smile, “but he didn’t smash me up. It was a fight.”
A student of the martial arts since 1975, Gresh trains with an enthusiasm and energy that would shame men half his age. An active teacher and student at Cape Cod Fighting Alliance, Gresh also makes weekly pilgrimages to the Sityodtong Muay Thai Academy in Somerville to help develop his Muay Thai skills. Prior to his fight, he received his blue monkol from Kru Mark, recognizing his growth in the art of Muay Thai.
Gresh’s training consists of more than just skill work. He combines his own bodyweight training with an ever changing circuit courtesy of Team Crush coaches Cory Clarke and Seth Silva.
“He's in such good shape,” says Gresh’s wife Janette, “they have to constantly add more difficult exercises and longer intervals. Kettlebells, ladders, boxes, hammers, ropes, etc…You name it, they throw it at him.”
While Gresh’s recent loss certainly disappoints him, it hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm or his competitive spirit at all. Standing at Sityodtong, watching the fight replay, he smiles and shakes his head. “I’m not done yet.”
It’s tempting to dismiss his success as a fluke. To say that he’s a “genetic freak” gifted beyond the abilities of mortal men. But those are convenient excuses. Mike Gresh is successful because he trains hard, challenges his limits, and won’t quit. That is his great secret, and the great lesson for the rest of us. Age isn’t what matters. It’s heart.
Now go train.