The other day I was sitting and chatting with somebody about this story. As usual they asked who I’m interviewing and where they’re from, and I responded with his name and location. After I responded the person I was speaking to appeared to be confused and asked who the hell cared about a fighter from Altoona, Pennsylvania.
I was completely shocked with their question and wondered how they were a true MMA fan if they didn’t avidly follow it across the country and furthermore, the world. When I think of avid fans I think of people that follow the entire sport, not just a section of it. For example, during basketball season I occasionally watch the Portland Trail Blazers because that’s where I’m from. Not because I am a fan of the sport. A true fan of the sport would follow every NBA team right into the finals. A true MMA fan doesn’t just follow their local MMA, or the ‘fan favorites’. True MMA fans follow the sport because that’s what they love. They follow all areas of the sport and want to know MMA fighters from all across the globe.
That brings you to this story. Why should you care about this fighter from Altoona, Pennsylvania? I’m here to tell you a story. A story that will matter to fans and a story that will matter to people that truly love the sport of MMA.
Charlie Gathers who fights out of Dignan-Brumbaugh from Altoona, Pennsylvania is the oldest fighter that I have interviewed so far. At an age of 34, I wondered where he expects his career to take him. I figured when I interviewed him that he’d be one of these fighters that dreams of going to the UFC, or dreams of travelling the country proving themselves to be the ‘natural born fighter’ that they are. This guy is a complete 180 from that.
Gathers has a current record of 6-1 and is making his pro debut next weekend, September 15th at Complete Devastation 6. As excellent as that record is, it didn’t start off that spectacular. Gathers first fight was a loss via rear naked choke. He came off that loss training harder and putting more time into what he trains and how he trains. His next 6 fights were wins.
Gathers goes by the fight name Charlie ‘The Madman’ Gathers. The ‘Madman’ came about after a few fights, because he has a very intense and free fighting style.
“I go in and fight, because that’s what it is; a fight. I have no specific fight style and I’m very creative [in my movement]. I’m in the pocket all the time. I take a guy’s cardio, and his heart, and eventually I win.”
While soul searching in the cage may be easy for Gathers, searching for the owner of that soul is much more difficult.
“Out of all my fights I’ve only had one where I knew who my opponent was for over two weeks before the fight.”
For athletes like Gathers it’s a huge disappointment to have a hard time finding match ups and had hopes that it would be different going from amateur to pro. For his debut on September 15th at Complete Devastation 6, a matchup has yet to be made.
“Its things like this that makes it difficult to be a certain styled fighter. I have to train all areas and be well rounded. I really hoped for change moving up to the pros, but I guess it’s a struggle all the way around. I moved up to pro to face real and tough challengers, and nobody is stepping up to the plate.”
As Gathers moves up to pro leagues this month, he is keeping a very realistic mindset in future opportunities and his dreams.
“I’m not going to say I’m going to be a UFC fighter. That would be crazy. At my age you can’t step into the cage thinking you’re the next big thing. If a door opens, I’ll walk through it and take any opportunity I get, but I’m certainly not expecting multiple doors to open and to end up on UFC next year. I’m a realist, and I don’t think that way. I want to keep the ball rolling for me, and like I said before, I want to walk through open doors. I hope to keep getting these media opportunities. You know what they say. The media loves a guy who’s on the winning side, so I hope to keep my winning streak going.”
While Gathers’ future in the sport is unknown, there is one thing he is sure of. On October 20th at World Cage Championships he’s going to lay the lumber on long time personal rival Tyler Saltsman.
“He’s a ‘Chael Sonnen’ kind of guy. Our last fight I had to back out [the only fight I’ve ever had to back out of] and he blasted me on the social networks and was completely disrespectful. I’m looking forward to my chance to battle and leave it all in the cage.”
In many aspects an amateur and a pro are alike in the ways that they think and dream, but it’s those who are realistic and dedicate time to an unknown future that prove worthy in the pro league.
Gathers isn’t just a fighter. He’s not just some guy from Altoona, Pennsylvania. He’s a guy that has a story waiting to be unleashed. He’s a realist, and doesn’t expect things to be thrown at him or for him to have an easy pathway to success. He’s a guy looking for success through his own personal determination, hard work, and dedication to a sport that he loves.