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Team Black
San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Coach Dan Black has been training fighters since 2003. While he worked early on out of Cesar Gracie’s gym, he later broke off in order to focus more on his fighters and now trains fighters out of multiple locations in order to get them the training and the sparring partners that they need for each fight. Black’s philosophy is very individualized to each fighter: “I want to give my guys the best training for their fights. I’m one-hundred thousand percent devoted to my fighters.” His focus is primarily MMA, and he will arrange more intensity in the sports of boxing, Muay Thai, and BJJ according to each fighter’s particular needs.

Black’s background, he says, is from the “school of hard knocks.” He grew up in a rough area in Oakland and his grandfather was a boxer. He learned the fundamentals from age five and visited various boxing gyms with his grandfather, who “made me fight kids in the front yard.” His fighting drive was enhanced by being picked on as a minority during his youth. This made his interest in martial arts later on almost inevitable, and with his background, it was easy enough to pick up.

Having had bad experiences himself as a fighter, his goal was to give his team better coaching, better opportunities, and better management. “I primarily want to look after my fighters,” says Coach Black. He runs a “one man army,” taking the training, conditioning, management, and social media entirely upon himself. Although there are no assistant instructors, he does avail himself of numerous other gyms to provide training partners that will hone his fighters in each component discipline of MMA. “Having a single source, keeping it in-house reduces confusion on the part of the athletes.”

Coach Black describes his training regimen as “more rustic”—with a good deal of running and conditioning and perhaps more sparring than is usual. At different gyms, his fighters get to box with boxers, kickbox with kickboxers, and so on. Each fighter’s routine is tailored to what he or she needs for each particular fight. Black aims to find skill sets that complement each fighter’s individual attributes: “Everybody’s way different—why would I train them alike?”

Team Black boasts a number of high level fighters:

     • Xavier Vigney (9-1 pro kickboxing; 2-0 pro boxing; 10-1 ama MMA, 1-0 ama boxing) is ranked 3rd by the highly popular promotion GLORY and is as yet undefeated in this promotion. After his first amateur boxing knockout, no one would fight him as an amateur; thus, Vigney went pro. This giant stands at 6’8” and weighs 260 pounds and has just been offered a spot by K1 Grand Prix.

     • Matt Baker, fighting at -85 kg, has won a number of titles, including the gold at the WKA 2013 North American Championships and at the WKA Unified World Championships the same year. He also won the gold at IFMA in Russia in 2012 and the bronze in Malaysia in 2014. After achieving a stunning amateur record of 19-5, Baker turned pro and won his GLORY debut in Vegas this summer.

     • Nick Pica, fighting MMA at -185 lb., has a record of 4-0, with two wins by KO and two by submission. Black describes him as a “freak athlete”—meaning this as a compliment to Pica’s KO power in both hands. A purple belt, Pica has won a submission-only tournament and can also boast a background as a wrestling champion.

     • Brooke Mayo is described by Coach Black as his best amateur fighter at the moment. She fights MMA at -125 lb. and is 5-2, with four knockout wins. She is also 3-0 in kickboxing with another win coming by way of KO. She won this year’s Muay Thai Open tournament in Phoenix.

     • Roy Boughton, a BJJ brown belt and prominent wrestler, has fought on both GLORY and Bellator at -205 lb. He is 9-2 in kickboxing and 12-5 in MMA.

Coach Black is thankful for his many sponsors, including DC Solar and Delta Tactical Training Group. These sponsors provide much support to Team Black, as do Strike First Nutrition, Action Pro Gear, Lana’s Egg Whites, Kinders BBQ, Xternal, Stone Rum, and Lumpy’s Diner.

Team Black embraces the old-school boxing mindset that if you want to be good, you take the beatings, come back, and put in the work. Coach Dan’s words of wisdom for fighters: “Stay humble, stay hungry, work hard.”

past gyms

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