Friday, June 11, 2010

A real life Vision Quest

In the 1986 movie 'Vision Quest' Louden Swayne's best friend Kuch said that the "Everywhere Spirit", a supposed Cherokee Indian God of some sort, described Louden's desire to go down in weight to wrestle the unbeatable Chute as a "Vision Quest." He defined it as "finding his place in the circle." Well, there's a real life Louden Swayne named Jimmy Spicuzza and he has his own Vision Quest, only it's not as a wrestler, but as an MMA fighter.

Based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, this young up and coming star is an amateur that is ready to turn pro and realize his true calling. I had the pleasure of not only meeting Jimmy (pictured to my left above), but watching him fight as the headliner of the most recent Tuff-N-Uff event @ The Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas Memorial Day Weekend. Tuff-N-Uff is arguably the most reputable promotion focusing on amateur MMA in the country.

Based in Vegas as well, it has been the springboard for many well-known MMA fighters and it appears Jimmy Spicuzza may be the next in this lineage it has developed. What I saw that night was a multi-faceted fighter with fast hands and a more than capable ground game. However, what impressed me most was his heart and dedication. Hear his story and you'll see what I mean.

Originally from Illinois, right outside of Chicago, Jimmy Spicuzza has been a natural athlete his whole life. As a kid he trained in Karate and during his middle and high school years he ran track, which probably explains his fast and capable hands. However, his first love and primary sport was always basketball. It was his passion and when his family moved to Las Vegas in 1991, it remained such; there was only one problem.

No matter how good he was, he wasn't very big. He told me that throughout high school he was primarily 5' 1" until right before his senior year when had a sudden growth spurt of about 5 more inches. That means unless you're as gifted as little man basketball legends Mugsy Bogues or Spud Webb your basketball playing days are pretty much over after high school. There was another problem, a lot more serious than his height that surfaced during high school.

Before his senior year of high school in 2002 tragedy struck. Jimmy's father, a huge influence on his life, suddenly passed away. This had a profound affect on Jimmy as he was not only saddened and hurt by this loss, but it angered him as well. He tried to combat the anger by focusing his energy in a more positive direction, so he attended junior college for awhile and then started his own power washing business.

It actually began to flourish for a moment, until the economy went bad, thus taking it's toll on the business. This was just more fuel added to the anger that already raged inside of him. As he told me, he was "angry at life" and like most young men with that much anger and pain inside of them, those emotions started taking him down the wrong path. He was hanging with the wrong people and began getting into trouble, which resulted in him getting into a lot of street fights.

It seemed he was fighting somebody all the time, so a friend suggested he accompany him to a gym to let go of some of that anger. From his first introduction to MMA training, he was hooked. It was as though a light switch was suddenly turned on inside of him. He said, "It was like I finally found my calling in life."

The natural athlete, who loved competition his whole life before, found another sport he could finally put his energy and focus into and that's what he has done for the last four years. How committed is he about his passion for this sport? He gets up @ 4:30AM everyday to go to work as a manager in the family cleaning business for about 30 hours a week. Why so early? Because after work he goes straight to train the rest of the day at one of three gyms he is currently training at.

He works his Muay Thai and stand-up with Master Chan @ J-Sect He trains his ground game at the gym of renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Robert Drysdale and he works his wrestling with the guys over at Roy Nelson's Country Club. He's also dedicated himself nutrition wise as well, being very strict with his diet and working with strength and conditioning Coach Korey Goodwin.

The night I saw him fight two weeks ago, he had a tough fight against a talented fighter out of Eddie Bravo's camp in California. Jimmy was very slick with his boxing throwing crisp fast combinations. He worked those hands and used them to set-up takedowns, however as you can imagine fighting an Eddie Bravo student he got caught in a tight guillotine choke. He was in it for a long minute and it looked as though that was going to be it for Spicuzza, but he weathered the storm and even gestured to the ref and his fans with the thumbs up sign that he was not tapping out.

After a tough three rounds he grinded out a hard fought, well earned split decision. How hard was it? When I interviewed him this past Monday, he just had surgery on his hand a couple of day's prior, which he had broken during the fight. I told you this kid had heart. For an amateur, this young 25-year-old has developed quite a loyal following as well.

That night there was a legion of Jimmy Spicuzza faithful, led by his two sisters, all wearing Jimmy Spicuzza shirts. Fighting @ 155lbs. after seven amateur fights he has an overall record of (5-2) and he says he's ready to make it happen and turn pro. He hopes to make a jump into a recognized respected promotion such as Tachi Palace Fighting Championship or Ring of Fire before finally making his dream come true in one of the major promotions. Once the sponsors start coming he can stop working and focus 100 percent on just being a fighter and fulfilling his 'Vision Quest'.

I want to thank Jimmy Spicuzza for granting me this interview.

Jimmy would like to thank and acknowledge the following people and businesses for their support. First and foremost his family, his training partners and his strength and conditioning Coach Korey Goodwin. Also, Clean Pro, Best of Show Contruction, The Barth Family, Sports P.T. and OTM Fight Shop.

To check out more on Jimmy go to

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