Pawling MMA Fighters Thrive

MMA1 and 2: Over 60 students train for mixed martial arts at the World Gym in Pawling.


Anyone familiar with the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) knows the intense levels of training, discipline, and competitive spirit that fighters must possess. Stepping into the cage, known as the octagon, requires a certain breed of athlete. A number of such competitors can be found in Pawling, training at the World Gym on Route 22 under the tutelage of Head Coach John Carlo. Fighters training at World Gym are a part of USA Karate and John Carlo Boxing, and are also affiliates of American Top Team, one of the premier mixed martial arts programs in the country. Recently, one of the program's fighters won gold, as Joe Parker captured the GPP/WAC Welterweight Championship at an event on June 30.

The Whitehall Athletic Club presented the first night of their Summer Slam Double Header on June 30, co-promoted with Ground & Pound Promotions. The main card would see decisive victories by two of the Pawling trained fighters. In an undercard bout, Scott Lampert defeated Nathan Huluska by KO/TKO in 39 seconds. When asked about his mindset prior to entering the cage, Lampert explained, “I’m always nervous, but I’m never scared.” (On July 21, Lampert will face Walter Wheeler for the GPP/WAC Middleweight Championship.)

The night’s main event would see a clash between Joe Parker and Tom Brink for the vacant GPP/WAC Welterweight Championship. A mere 13 seconds into the bout, Parker would land a devastating right hand to fell his opponent and capture the title. “He caught me with a good leg kick, but I recovered quick,” explained Parker, who gives credit to his training for the victory. “When you step in there, there’s a fluidness to it. After you spend so many hours training, muscle memory takes over.”

Scott Lampert and Joe Parker both attribute their success to the training they received from John Carlo and the coaching staff at World Gym. There, athletes of all ages can learn to compete in a variety of disciplines, including boxing, kickboxing, karate, and Brazilian Jujitsu. “We’re a small club, and a lot of people don't know what we do here,” says Carlo, who has been training students since 1986. “We have people of all ages come in here. Sometimes it’s kids as young as four, but we have guys in their fifties coming in here to train.”

Scott Lampert had a decisive victory at the Whitehall Athletic Club on June 30.

Parker1 and 2: Joe Parker captured the GPP/WAC Welterweight Title after a knockout in 13 seconds.


Fighters like Lampert and Parker can be found honing their skills at the facility at least four or five nights a week. “I dedicate myself to least four nights a week. It’s a really good mix of people here,” says Parker. “We get people that really want to compete, so you get to fight against a lot of different opponents,” adds Lampert.

Students under John Carlo have a track record of success, and the program has produced several professional fighters over the years, including boxer Alex Vanesse. Ryan Quinn, who currently competes in Bellator MMA’s light heavyweight division, also cross-trained at the facility and occasionally returns as a coach. John Carlo himself is no stranger to the pro circuit, acquiring a 14 – 2 professional boxing record, which included a knockout victory over former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks. “I have five coaches, and we’re always looking to have the younger guys become instructors,” says Carlo. “And we’re grooming a few guys to go pro.”

Those training at World Gym find that the competition helps them in all aspect of life outside of the ring. “It’s great for focus, discipline, and self confidence,” says Parker. “I would recommend this to anyone.” Jordan Akey has been training with John Carlo since she was nine years old, and still maintains a connection to the fighting world even as she prepares to start medical school. “I started off in karate, and John saw something in me,” she said. “I beat a black belt when I was only a white belt. Even though I’m in school I would love to get my kickboxing career started again.”

For anyone seeking to explore a new avenue of competition and fitness, John Carlo and the rest of the fighters at World Gym urge them to consider trying mixed martial arts. “We have lots of different types of competition,” says Carlo. “This is great for kids, and its great for parents.” For more information, search Pawling MMA Karate, Boxing, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu on Facebook.