Combat Vision MMA were able to speak to head coach and owner of Roker Rough House MMA Anth Hopper. Anth is also the owner of Generations of Combat. The promotion are holding an event of K1, MMA and Boxing on Saturday May 6th at The Point, Sunderland.
Thank you for speaking to Combat Vision MMA, Anth. Could you tell our readers about your about yourself as a fighter and as an owner/coach of the gym?
“I started boxing from the age of 8 with my brother Danny Hopper, we both competed at amateur level and did very well winning the school boys championships, My brother Danny, has coached my stand up for years and cornered me for all my fights. My little nephew, Danny Hopper JR is 11 years old and is now competing himself, winning gold in the box cup. My other brother Jaq, has also fought in boxing and MMA winning by knockout’s so I guess you can say we a family of fighters”
“In 2006, I started MMA at Team Black MMA, this is where it all started. I got my 1st Dan black belt in Japanese Ju Jitsu in May 2016, in the same year, I won the professional heavyweight British title at Total Combat MMA. I also had a lot of Ebf boxing fights, I did very well only beaten once”
“In November 2013, I started my own MMA club and we named it Roker Rough MMA. I started with only 3 lads and I can remember being very nervous to teach them. Things just came together and it was more like mates just training together rather than coaching students. It’s still the same way now and I have around 30 students, we are like brothers, we support each other outside the gym as well. It is good been a fighter & coach because you know how fight camps are, you know what it’s like to be sitting in the changing rooms waiting to go in and fight. I think it’s important to know how your lads are feeling, it’s not an easy sport to compete in, with MMA, there are always ups and downs in training and always doubts. But, I think most fighters feel like that, we talk about it and never leave those doubts in the lads heads. Since starting the club, we have won 16 titles on the local events and fought on some of the biggest shows in Europe the likes of BAMMA and Cage Warriors”
When was Roker Rough House MMA formed and why?
“The gym was formed in November 2013. I was offered an weightlifting gym and it had a second room with a few mats in, so I took it. Now, the full gym is just MMA, we knocked the wall down and it’s a modern day gym with a ring & cage with 120 square meters of matted area. We are trying to keep the kids off the streets, the gym is located around a few rough housing estates and we have turned a few lives around in the past few years. Helping lads who have been bullied and now they are all fighting. We have had a few high level fighters teach at the gym too; Ryan Scope & Phil De Fries also took classes at the club, Barry Gibson 3rd Dan black belt in judo as well as British, Commonwealth and combat Sambo champion was a massive help. Barry has his own class and is one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country. He also coaches Ross Pearson from the UFC, so seeing faces like that in the gym, helps push the lads on with their dreams”
What were the challengers & objectives did you face when opening the gym?
“My objectives were to be different and try a different style of teaching. In the beginning, we did a lot of Japanese combat Ju Jitsu, consisting of throws and striking with the boxing on top of that. The only challenges we had was getting people to join our team. Sunderland has some high class MMA clubs with high class coaches, so to get people to join us was going to be hard. A new gym, with no known named fighters. But, we entered into our first event, it was boxing and then MMA, we were winning and after that it gained interest, people started joining our club”
Did you feel there needed to be a gym that offered something different in your area?
“Yeah from the off. We tried to be different to other clubs, we are the only club to offer Krav Maga and Sambo in Sunderland and I think that still stands out. I think there’s only 3 clubs in Sunderland that do BJJ and we are one of the 3, so we have a lot to offer. We also have a very good wrestling coach from Iran who has completed at a high level”
As a coach – what does a typical training camp consist of in preparation for a fight?
“Most fight camps consist of BJJ, Wrestling, Boxing and Kickboxing. Focusing on movement, angles, strength & conditioning. But, we also do a lot of tough sparring (shark tanks), we are lucky enough to live next to the beach, so we do lots of beach training. We swim a lot in the North Sea in the summer and the rest is top secret”
Could you tell our readers about the journey inside the cage the gym has took and the achievements along the way?
“Our journey started on local events. We started at the bottom and built our name up, out of all the competitions we have won, a lot a fights and titles not only MMA. The club compete in BJJ as well and the lads have won gold & silver, we will be entering lots of grappling competitions this year as well as MMA and Boxing, We are hoping to get onto some of the bigger shows this year, make a stamp and move further up the ladder.