Jackson and Winklejohn have it figured out
Posted at: 07/10/2012 1:58 PM
By: J.P. Murrieta, KOB Eyewitness Sports 4
Sports Illustrated recently featured Albuquerque’s Jackson-Winklejohn Gym. The New Mexico workout facility has become a hotbed for mixed martial arts talent. It’s turned out a who’s who of MMA fighters like Keith Jardine, Jon Jones and George St. Pierre. I had a chance to sit down with owner and coach Greg Jackson to talk about the recent national publicity generated from the article as well as the dynamic of his successful gym.
J.P.: Your gym is already known in the MMA community. What did the article do for you?
Greg Jackson: We’ve had a lot more interest since the article came out. A lot of people want to see what our gym is all about which is great because it gives our sport a little more mainstream exposure. It was nice for MMA to be recognized by Sports Illustrated. We were lucky enough to be the school featured. I’m very humbled and honored. We are just the second MMA mention ever in that magazine so it’s a big honor for us.
J.P.: Why has this gym become so popular among MMA fighters?
GJ: When you start producing champions, other people want to be around champions and see how they came to be. So we get new talent in here all the time.
J.P.: Where do you go from here? What do you envision from this place 5 or 10 years from now?
GJ: We are franchising out some of our schools so we are branching out. Hopefully I get to keep training fighters because that’s what I love to do. We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last 20 years and hopefully we can do it for another 20 years.
J.P.: You have over 50 active professional fighters working out of your gym from all over the world, Japan, Russia, England, Australia. Why has this place been so successful?
GJ: It’s all about the culture. It’s kind of a ‘all-for-one and one-for-all’ mentality. It’s a place where you can leave a five dollar bill on the bench and when you come back it’s still there. When you care about the people you train with it makes a difference. We do turn people away because we have limited spots. We have a great team culture with a close, tight-knit group.
J.P.: But a guy like me can’t just walk in here and start training can I?
GJ: You need a certain level of skill to walk in here. You can’t just come through the doors and expect to be good. That would be like walking onto the courts at Wimbledon and think you’re going to win. You need to already know what you’re doing. For beginners we do have academys that train beginners.
J.P.: Your methods of training are unique. You’ve said your idols are guys like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. You play classical music sometimes to help them train. What is your main message to the fighters?
GJ: There’s a lot of signature messages I put in: Relentless self-improvement, enlightenment through suffering, that kind of thing. I try to improve all aspects of their abilities.
Whatever he’s doing, it works.