A Conversation with Coach Tony Cummings
Coach Tony Cummings’s work on the American Muay Thai circuit initially began with his main pupil, Ashley Acord.
After winning two national titles in a three week span at the World Kickboxing Association Tournament in Virginia and the US Muay Thai Open in Arizona, Ashley drew the attention of a number of aspiring amateur fighters across Colorado who now train with Tony six days a week.
Steve Eisman: What is your background in the sport?
Coach Cummings: I started boxing when I was young because my dad was a huge boxing fan and a black belt in karate.
When I was in high school there was a “newer” style of karate known as Ashihara Karate which was an off-shoot of Kyokushin Karate.
This style later led to Enshin Karate, which had its headquarters in Denver and would lead to Clarence Thatch. Most people outside of Colorado may or may not have heard of Clarence, but anyone in Colorado with a legitimate stand up system has trained or studied under Clarence at one point or another.
More recently I trained and have a black belt in Krav Maga which pulls some things from Muay Thai and Kickboxing.
SE How did you and Alex initially make contact with one another and what prompted the partnership between Elevate Striking Systems and Blue Ocean Muay Thai?
CC: It was a chance meeting. I had been watching Tiffany fight and l liked the style she brought to the ring. I contacted Alex about doing some training and setting up a way to bring a different style to Colorado. We discussed developing a curriculum that I could bring to Colorado that specifically designed for Muay Thai/kickboxing. It’s a system that is adaptable for any student or fighter and combines different styles of Muay Thai.
SE: Prime real estate for gyms can be difficult to find. What are your thoughts (from a coach’s perspective) on investing in your own location compared to sharing space with another school or program?
CC: There are pros and cons to both. Having your own space is more work and requires a lot of attention that is taken away from fighters, if you have them. It is a balancing act in that you still want to devote as much time as possible to your students but you still have to run a business.
Leasing space makes it a little bit easier in terms of time management. The downside is that, depending on space, you may be trying to find times to train that don’t interfere with other classes. It also limits the types of programs that you can offer.
In Colorado, commercial real estate is hard to find because of new businesses that are always coming in from different industries. Small commercial space is even tougher to find because startup businesses seem to take these quickly.
SE: What is your opinion on coaches who only want their students training under one banner and strongly disapprove of training with other gyms/people?
CC: I don’t limit the students I coach to just training with only me. I think it is good to get different perspectives on training from different coaches. I try to train with different people to learn as much as I can.
SE: If there’s one piece of advice you could give to amateur fights that are still relatively new to the sport what would it be?
CC: Don’t let anyone talk you in to fighting until you’re ready and you can protect yourself. I don’t let students fight for at least 2 years after they have started training. Once you start fighting as an amateur, stay as busy as possible. Get as many rounds in as you can because it’s the only way you become comfortable in the ring.