GUS Robinson is a name synonymous with boxing.
It still is, but the famous Hartlepool gym is extending into the world of mixed martial arts.
Stranton House, the HQ of Gus Robinson Developments, is the base where Peter Cope coaches a talented team of fighters, like Peter Cope Jnr, Daniel Cope, Anth Hardy and Greg O’Neil.
But Daniel Robinson, son of the late company’s founder and inspiration, has “transformed” the sporting operation, incorporating two of the fast-growing sports in the world – MMA and CrossFit.
While Peter Cope Snr puts the boxers through their paces in the ring and on the bags, Daniel works with another team of fighters, expertly backed by strength and conditioning coaches Mari Rath and Tony Cope.
MMA has exploded worldwide with competitors and fans lapping up a sport comprising full-contact action, allowing the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground.
And the Gus Robinson Developments gym will have its first taste of competition this weekend.
Ash Griffiths, a member of the Gus team, will fight in the Combat Challenge North East show at the Borough Hall on Saturday night.
“Boxing has always been a big part of our business,” said Daniel.
“It still is and always will be.
“But when I moved back here from the States after dad died, I had a meeting with Peter and I said Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts are the big things which are coming.
“We decided that we’d take a dual approach here.
“We would still look to evolve our boxing but we’d also look to do the MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“Between myself and Peter we’ve got the basis of a fantastic gym where we could excel at all disciplines.
“We’ve transformed the gym and we have crossfit which is the second fastest growing sport in the world.
“We’ve got the strength and conditioning with Mari and we also do diets and psychology as well. We’re looking to do everything here, not just the fighting.
“Our aspirations will be to make this some sort of centre of excellence.
“It all began with dad with the boxing many years ago and now we’re developing into mixed martial arts.
“You read negative things about our town and the lack of options for the young people. But here we are doing something good and positive.
“An ethos we have is that we don’t just want to teach people to better fighters we want to teach the to be better human beings.
“That was really important to us like it was important to dad.
“I can go from being in a meeting planning housing schemes to taking calls about the gym.
“We’ve not even advertised the gym.
“We have the best part of 60 people training here every day and one, Ash, will be fighting at the Borough Hall on Saturday, which is very exciting for us.”
Daniel is proud to have brought the famous skill of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Hartlepool.
His love of the discipline began when he lived in the United States, where was a top pilot in the US Air Force, watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship on TV.
“I was first exposed to UFC when I lived in Florida in 2006,” he told SportMail.
“I looked at the techniques in a fight where there were very limited rules and where the ground component was so important.
“This wasn’t a stand-up fight with Marquess of Queensberry rules.
“The main bedrook was a discipline called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so I started to look into that.
“It started with a Brazilian family called the Gracies.
“They developed it from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu after the patriarch of the family had two of his sons Carlos and Hélio trained in that sport.
“They started to evolve a discipline called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which was fighting on the ground, where they would use leverage and superior technique to overcome size and strength.
“It’s a grappling art where they would take the fight to the floor and manouevre the opponent so you would be in the dominant position to force a submission.
“They invited all the Brazilian tough guys to their gym and when they realised the combat effectiveness of this, the little guys beating the big guys, they started to export it to the United States.
“It caught on in the States and the UFC was born.
“In the early days it was a case of anything goes. I came directly into contact with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when I went to the country in 2008.
“I was invited to try it at the gym and then I was in the military, I was 6ft 2in and 210lbs, and I was up against this lad who looked half my size.
“He tied me in knots so much it felt like I was drowning.
“It was complete control and domination and I said then I can never let this happen again.
“After I left the military I moved to New York and joined the Gracie gym around the corner from my apartment and learned the masters and fell in love with it.”
TICKETS for Saturday’s show are £25 (standard) and £40 (VIP) from combatchallengenortheast.com or on the door, which opens at 5pm for a 6pm start.