Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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Bobby Lashley takes Titan title in former hometown

By Julie Fiedler | 1st Infantry Division | June 20, 2013

For mixed martial arts fighter Bobby Lashley, the opportunity to headline "Titan Fighting Championship 25: Fight for the Troops 2" was more than a professional coup. It was a personal one.

"I don't know if I'm more excited about fighting for the troops or just fighting in my hometown," said Lashley, who graduated from Junction City High School.

Not only did Lashley spend many of his formative years in the area, but he also has strong ties to the military, as his father, uncle, sister and Lashley himself served with the armed forces.

"It's a complete honor for me to just be able to fight for the troops," he said.

Lashley has memories of growing up playing sports in the street on Meade Loop, while his father was stationed at Fort Riley as a noncommissioned officer.

"Growing up as an Army brat, I had a good time with friends," he recalled. "We were almost walking distance from the Main (Post Exchange)."

While a student at Fort Riley Middle School, Lashley got his start in wrestling when his football coach encouraged him to try wrestling once football season was finished.

"I started wrestling in seventh grade," he said. "I really took to it right off the bat."

Lashley continued to wrestle throughout high school and college, earning the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or NAIA, Collegiate National Champion three times and NAIA All-American four times, according to his website.

"I was really successful in wrestling in college," he said.

When he graduated from Missouri Valley College, wrestling was still in his veins, so he looked into the Army's World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP.

Lashley met with the wrestling coach at Fort Carson, Colo., and applied to WCAP. He was accepted and wrestled in the Army for three years, during which time he won a gold and silver medal for the Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Championships Senior Freestyle event, according to his website.

Lashley turned pro, wrestling for World Wrestling Entertainment, before deciding to transition to mixed martial arts, or MMA.

"You have to know a lot of everything (for MMA)," he said. "I have a strong wrestling background … I've been trained a lot with my striking, my boxing has really, really come along, and jujitsu also."

Lashley said he enjoys the art of fighting and the various disciplines involved in MMA.

"I really enjoy different aspects of fighting ... Learning the different submissions and tailoring all those different martial arts into one fighting form," he said.

Today, Lashley is passing on that love of fighting, and the fighting spirit, as the owner of a gym in Aurora, Colo., called American Top Team Altitude.

"When I graduated college, I graduated with a business management and recreation degree," Lashley said. "I've always wanted to own a gym in some fashion."

While he originally started the gym to have a place to train, he has expanded it to offer a variety of equipment and classes like Zumba.

"It's more of a Family gym than a fighting gym," he said.

He also has created a nonprofit arm called Lashley Fitness Foundation that offers athletic and academic training to area youth. His goal is to have a positive influence on youth and help keep them off the streets.

"Our main focus is to help kids out and help Families," he said.

For more information on his nonprofit, visit www.lashleyfitnessfoundation.org.

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