“We would watch five movies a day with 10 fights on it,” Steele said. “I just loved how competitive they were and what it took.”
On Saturday, Steele gets to relive his childhood, only he will be inside the cage instead of in front of a television watching his idols.
Steele is one of two local fighters on the professional card for “Rumble on the Rock” — the island’s first mixed martial arts cage fight that begins at 7 p.m. at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds. The gates open at 5 p.m. and the arena will open an hour later. Each fight has three, three-minute rounds, unless the fight ends with a knockout.
The event — brought to Kodiak by Kenai-based 6 or 5 Times Productions — begins with six amateur bouts and ends with four professional fights. Ten of the 12 amateur fighters are local, while Waylon Soptick and Steele are the only locals on the professional card.
Steele was a late-addition, but has been training for nearly three hours every night with a group of friends to prepare for his first fight.
“I really like to compete and have always had a really competitive side,” Steele said. “Who wouldn’t want to fight in a ring with all their hometown fans, friends and family?”
When Steele first heard about the event, he was hesitant at first, but warmed up to the idea of getting into a cage. He signed up and was given a professional bout against a fighter from the Kenai-Peninsula, who already has a few fights under his belt.
“I definitely feel very comfortable and not really too nervous,” Steele said. “I’m not feeling like I am the underdog, I definitely have all the skill sets to fight well.”
Steele has rallied his friends, including Costello, a former collegiate wrestler and Kodiak High School’s current wrestling coach, to teach him the ins and outs of martial arts fighting.
He dropped 20 pounds to make his fighting weight of 160.
“I was really out of shape and thought of it as a motivational reason to get back in shape,” he said.
Steele, a Brechan Enterprises, Inc. employee, graduated from KHS in 2005 where he wrestled and ran cross country and track. He said his wrestling background should help him in the ring and noted his biggest strength is his hands.
“I have always had really good hand speed and hand strength as far as how I throw a punch. Now it is just learning to punch where I want it,” he said.
Win or lose, Steele is just proud to be part of Kodiak’s inaugural MMA event.
“I think people will actually enjoy this and learn that it truly is not just a blood bath; it is a sport and it is up and coming,” he said.
For tickets to the event, contact Marc Ignacio at 539-1542. Fighter weigh-ins is at 6 p.m. Friday at the American Legion. The event is open to the public.
Contact Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.