When Jack Murphy decided it was time to retire as a martial arts instructor, he didn’t want to turn over the kickboxing gym he founded and owned for 25 years to just anyone.
Instead, the former professional boxer-turned-instructor handed over the keys to one of his own. His own student that is – Brima Kamara.
“After spending most of my life training and coaching in numerous martial arts, I realized it was time to slow down a bit and let the next generation step forward and carry the torch onward,” said Murphy, who will officially step aside at the end of August. “I am even prouder that one of my students, whom I consider a grandson, will be continuing on at the gym.”
Murphy, a boxer since the mid-1960s, started teaching the sport at his house in 1993 and then, a year later, opened Jack’s Kickboxing Gym on Albe Drive just outside Newark. He offered training sessions on boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, mixed-marital arts and jiu-jitsu. Among its active members were several amateur and professional fighters who won more than 200 titles at the local, regional, national and international levels under Murphy’s tutelage. Kamara was one of them.
Kamara is currently a 27-year old professional kickboxer who has competed for numerous promotions during the past decade while training at Jack’s Gym.
“For 10 years, I’ve been blessed to become friends with people from all walks of life that I would otherwise have no connection to,” Kamara said. “Here at Jack’s, not only do we build strong bodies and minds, we also build strong relationships. I know maintaining the family feel of the gym is important to the overall experience.”
Kamara plans to continue the traditional classes that have made the gym a success, and stressed that his sessions are open to anyone who is interested, not just those training for titles.
“We have many families and individuals who come here for personal fitness reasons,” he explained. “We even offer classes designed for kids.”
Recognizing that there is a demand for more training options and the overall increased popularity and public interest in combat sports, Kamara noted that he is exploring the possibility of adding more classes during the week to attract new members. Prospective members can take one class free of charge, and Kamara offers individual training sessions.
“In addition to our regular class schedule, we also offer private one-on-one training for those who are curious about boxing or kickboxing,” Kamara said. “These personalized sessions are a great way to get a training regimen started, and from there, it makes the transition to joining a class full-time easier.”
Kamara inherited a facility that already had more than 30 heavy bags, a full-size boxing ring, a half-size MMA cage, outside circuit training, a variety of weight machines and free weights and open floor space to maximize training. He has since added free Wi-Fi and an electronic payment system. Kamara said that he plans to add more enhancements in the coming months.
“It is my goal to continue to make Jack’s Gym a positive place in the community, provide the highest quality of service and produce excellent fighters,” said Kamara, who intends to continue to compete professionally in addition to serving as the gym owner and head coach. “Twenty-five years from now, I want to have members say: ‘My father or grandmother was a fighter here.’ This is a great group of people that I’m proud not only to call my customers, but also my family.”