“Knock Out” the Competition with Antonio McKee
Former IFL Tokyo Sables’ Welter-weight fighter; Antonio “The Mandingo” McKee, (Born March 12th, 1970) is a multi-faceted person. Not only is he the owner/operator of the established Body Shop Fitness Center in Lakewood, Ca., he is also in the business of managing, training and grooming many up & coming young MMA fighters with his “Knock Out” productions.
Antonio also aims to continue helping youngsters via his non-profit organization known as “Fight for Kids”, an athletic program intended for underprivileged youth.
McKee began Wrestling as a teenager and even competed against future Pride-Fighter Dan Henderson, among several others. Within the last ten years, he has studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and Muay-Thai Kick-Boxing to add to his ever increasing arsenal. As a result, his overall fighting skills have since been honed towards perfection. At 5’-8” / 170 Lbs., he now maintains a truly impressive undefeated MMA fight record.
After a rumored contract dispute, McKee suddenly decided to depart from his position within the International Fight League amidst certain controversy, at which time, replacement; Pat Healy of the Nevada Lions took his place. IFL Co-Founder; Kurt Otto claimed, “We felt justified in taking legal actions, which precluded McKee from competing in the IFL World Grand Prix card.”
Antonio McKee is now in discussions with the new World Cage-Fighting Organization on becoming signed to an exclusive contract.
AMAM Interview with Antonio McKee:
AMAM: Good to speak with you again, Antonio. Let’s start by asking you where you grew up and when you first experienced combative sports and martial arts…what was your inspiration?
McKee: I grew up in Nashville, Dayton and Southern California. My mom was a traveling entertainer, singing on the road for a living, so I had the chance to see a lot of this country at an early age. I was about nine years old when I started watching Kung Fu Theater, Bruce Lee movies and martial arts on TV. As a result, I began wrestling in high school in California.
AMAM: Please tell our readers more about your “Fight for Kids” organization.
McKee: It’s about what I felt I was doing wrong as a young man, always in trouble and sometimes on the run from the law. Mostly taking, rarely giving anything back to society. A lot of this mischief came about due to the fact that I was without much clear guidance and needed to release my angst and pent up energy. Later on I made a vow; I promised myself that once I became successful and had enough money, I would try to help others. I decided that one day I wanted to fight for troubled youth and the underprivileged kids who had no other means of help.
AMAM: Let everyone know about training at your gym: “Body Shop Fitness”.
McKee: Body Shop Fitness is a very successful gym. Within the past three years or so, we’ve trained professional MMA fighters like; Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, Mirko Crocop, Nagiou (An impressive Japanese Champion) plus several other elite fighters, but, we also focus on training many fresh up-and-coming fighters too. Body Shop fitness has been recognized as one of the Top-10 in MMA training facilities in the world!
AMAM: Describe your first actual MMA bout?
McKee: It was against Shannon “The Cannon”. During my MMA debut I felt like a fish swimming against a heavy current. Upon accepting the bout, I was told by the promoter that my opponent was an amateur with only a few fights. However, I soon found myself being shot at by a “The Cannon” who actually happened to be an experienced semi-pro MMA fighter…I found myself there in a match that was a set-up! Regardless, in the middle of the bout, I began envisioning myself in a street-fight and finally turned the fight into my favor for the win.
AMAM: Who has been your toughest opponent thus far…your toughest fight?
McKee: It was against Heath Sims of Team Quest. Because he was a strong wrestler, we were evenly matched in skills, but, he was much bigger and stronger than me with more Jiu-Jitsu training at the time. I needed more MMA training back then. Even though I eventually won, it was a very tough fight for me at that point in my career!
AMAM: What can you tell us about some of the fighters you’re responsible for training?
McKee: The advantage I may have as an MMA trainer is that I’ve become a successful fighter with first-hand insights. I inform my fighters to learn to accept all phases of MMA training. We have a good training regimen, which relies on hard work, without steroids or short-cuts. Training is hard work that a serious fighter must learn to accept…hard work is our best friend.
AMAM: What are your own current training goals?
McKee: My goal is to get my promoters license and continue working with my non-profit and youth organizations. I am also interested in creating as many young champions as possible and to become known the best trainer in all of MMA.
AMAM: Who is your favorite professional MMA fighter nowadays?
McKee: “Rampage” and BJ Penn are my two favorites right now.
AMAM: Whom do you wish to fight next?
McKee: I’m looking to fight anybody who thinks they can stop me. I’m willing stay on my feet if the money is right to give the fans something special.
AMAM: Any other personal goals?
McKee: I wish to be a good father. My 12 year old son took 2nd in the 2007 Youth World Wrestling Championships in Reno, NV. He took 3rd this year and our goal is took coach him well enough to enable him to take the Championship next year!
AMAM: Antonio, it’s been my pleasure getting to know you better and to be able to spend time with someone that I feel is not only a great MMA fighter or coach, but, as someone I can verify is a truly good person with a sincere heart…thank you once again for taking this time away from your busy schedule, my friend!
Antonio: No problem, I’m always looking to support good people such as you. Good luck AMAM!