It was an offer Russ McCumber could not refuse.
After eight years in mixed martial arts, the Courtenay competitor’s skills and success attracted the attention of Team Quest, who have invited him to train with them in Chiang Mia, Thailand.
His friends will be sending him off in style on Friday, Dec. 19 with a fundraiser/farewell party at the Avalanche Bar and Grill. The evening will include a silent auction with a variety of merchandise up for bid. Tickets are by donation ($10 recommended) at the door, which opens at 8 p.m.
The 23-year-old McCumber has been training MMA for the past eight years, the last four-and-half years at Bill Fraser Martial Arts (aka The Academy) in Courtenay.
“The Academy has made a big difference in my training,” McCumber said. “Bill Fraser has given me great coaching toward my striking, jiujitsu, wrestling and overall MMA training. His commitment to helping his students inside and outside of the gym has impacted a lot of people’s lives,” McCumber said.
After winning three off his last four fights (the loss being a tilt for the vacant 145-pound championship in Battlefield Fight League), McCumber was invited to train in Thailand. It will be intense – two practices a day lasting at least two hours each and six days a week.
Training will include Muay Thai, wrestling, juijitsui and full MMA. “Russ is looking to use this great opportunity to further his skill set and pursue MMA professionally,” said Kurt Williamson, the driving force behind this Friday’s fundraiser.
McCumber has a 5-3-0 record and is #4 contender in BFL’s amateur featherweight rankings.
“I’m very much looking forward to going to Thailand, it is something I have wanted to do since I started training when I was 16,” McCumber said. “I will be training there for two months for sure, and depending on how much money I have I will be staying there longer than planned.” McCumber leaves Jan. 4 for Thailand.
McCumber adds, “My long-term goals are to continue my training whether in Thailand or Canada, compete at a professional level and continue to take whatever opportunities come from that, whether it be Canadian titles or world titles – but that is just me dreaming big.”
Featured at the silent auction will be a wide array of items/certificates from places around the Valley such as Apollo Tattoo, Kingfisher Resort and Spa, 133, Bill Fraser Martial Arts, training session with World Beauty Fitness & Fashion’s Kelsey Cragg of Courtenay, artwork and much more.
There will be live music by Luca Fogale and local talent Ronnie B, along with Samuel Woywitka playing some of his original mixes. For more information or a complete list of auction items, visit the Facebook page Ragin Russ McCumber Fundraiser/Farewell.
Anyone who would like to donate to the silent auction can contact Williamson at 587-434-9287.
TAP OUTS According to their website, Team Quest is being recognized as Thailand’s premier destination for elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts .. Team Quest says it has earned a reputation over the last 15 years as one of the world’s most premier MMA, Muay Thai, and fitness training camps …