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Yuma High freshman gets into the world of Mixed Martial Arts
The familiar sound of flesh pounding against vinyl rang throughout the Yuma High wrestling room Monday as the team got ready for one of the first open mats of the season.
Normally, incoming freshman would be wide-eyed and hoping to secure a spot on the freshman team — maybe JV if they were lucky.
Freshman Trenton Haile has different plans.
After winning the 2012 U.S. Open Youth National Pankration Championship in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in California on Sept. 23, Haile is aiming to make the varsity team. As an eighth-grader, Haile trained with the high school team all year, making his junior high wrestling schedule a breeze. Competing with kids 30 and 40 pounds heavier than him also helped him in his true passion: MMA.
Haile was introduced to fighting at the spry age of 3 when his dad enrolled him in taekwondo. After his cousin opened up the Arizona Athletic Club, he started to learn jui jitsu.
“At first I wanted to get a black belt in taekwondo,” Haile said. “But when my cousin's gym opened up, I thought if I wanted to start fighting, this is what I should do.”
Later the gym started its Friday Night Fight program. After Haile participated in a couple of those, he was hooked.
While looking for other places to fight, Trenton's dad Ray found the Pankration fights. The two packed up for Anaheim to scout what they were getting into, and Trenton liked what he saw.
“We watched one of the all-star bouts and that's where all of the best of them come together,” Trenton said. “So we went to see who I was going to fight and after watching them I decided I want a piece of that.”
Then the training began. No more soda, no more doughnuts, no more cereal. Trenton trained three hours a day, five days a week, minimum.
“If I wasn't in the gym, I was running,” Trenton said.
A key part of Trenton's training was his cardio. He would spar with his dad and brother for an hour to an hour and a half, doing five minute rounds with one minute of rest in between.
“Five minutes on the ground, five minutes standing up, five minutes of punching the punching bag a certain way,” Ray said. “But it's a steady five minutes, and most fights we go to the rounds are only 2-minute rounds. The kids he fights, they're the same caliber as him really, but the first minute, minute and a half, it's a close fight. As it drags on, the other kids start getting flat-footed, they can't move any more and he just wears them out.”
This is also where the Yuma High training has helped out.
“In wrestling practice he'll have to wrestle everybody bigger than him,” Ray said. “That way he gets used to bigger, stronger kids, and then all of a sudden he's fighting kids his size and these guys couldn't hold on to him. So it's worked out real well.”
Ray Haile has been involved in some kind of fighting his whole life and he knows what it takes to get to the next level.
“You got to want it,” Ray Haile said. “Once you start getting up into that level, you don't see any chunky kids. You get into the beginner class and the novice class and they have fun and they're good. But when you start to get to this level, you have to sacrifice.”
And sacrifice Trenton did. He dropped 10 pounds and made weight at 124. Once at the tournament, Trenton knows all he has to do is have his ears open and he'll have a chance.
“He's like a little remote control car out there,” Ray said. “I say to do something and he does it.”
As Trenton was in the middle of a match he would hear the other coaches yelling and screaming at their fighters.
“Move in, move in!” the opposing coach yelled. “Watch his right hand, watch his right hand!”
He'd listen for his father and he'd hear some equally good advice.
“Breathe!” Ray shouted.
When they first got to the tournament, Trenton and Ray thought that the structure would be similar to the All-Star fight that they attended in August.
“The first fight I came out and we thought there were two rounds,” Trenton said.
He held back in his first fight preparing for a second round, but when he went over to the his dad, the officials told him that the fight was over.
As he walked out to the mat for the second fight his dad called him over.
With the opposing coach and fighter looking on, his dad leaned over and said, “It's only one round, so don't hold anything back.”
The opposing fighter shook his head in disbelief. He thought he'd seen Trenton at his hardest after watching the last fight, but now was about to feel the wrath of the 14 year old phenom.