MMA Gym In Memory Of Son

We all deal with grief in different ways. Some people sink into depression while others use denial to cope. And some people try to find the strength to make something positive out of the life of their loved one.

Curtis Lee, from Redruth in Cornwall, UK, definitely falls into the latter category. Lee, who is 28 years old, first took up Mixed Martial Arts(MMA) seven years ago, after the death of his son, Mason.

Fast forward to today, and Lee is not just still practicing Mixed Martial Arts(MMA) but now runs his own gym. It is  equipped with a 24ft professional cage; the only one of its kind in the region. As Lee explained to CornwallLive, he attributes his decision to take up martial arts after his son died as the main reason his life didn’t spiral out of control as he tried to come to terms with the tragedy. “I needed something to focus on and keep me going forward with my life and stop me from turning to drink or drugs.”

As well as martial arts, Lee also works as a scaffolder running his own company named Mason Scaffolding, again in memory of his son. But when the opportunity to own his own gym arose, Lee jumped at the chance. The gym is located in part of the former Triple M site in Portreath, but when Lee first viewed it, the room was little more than a derelict shell.

“We came up and had a look around, it was full of stuff and boxes, carpet and plants growing everywhere,” he explained. “[But] about half an hour after seeing it I just decided to have it.”

Portreath: harbour, beach and Gull Rock, 1995
Photo © Ben Brooksbank (cc-by-sa/2.0).

Cornwall MMA Gym

From that point, Lee’s experience and contacts in the construction trade stood him in good stead. With the help of a close friend, Kerron Barrington-Smith, who also works as a scaffolder, Lee managed to convert the site into his new gym in about three weeks.

“For the most part it has just been me and Kerron,” said Lee. “We have been doing [the gym] every night, right up until 4am most nights to get it ready.”

Now all the hard graft has paid off. Lee is the proud owner of a modern, well-equipped, and fully functional martial arts gym. It has been named the Cornwall MMA Gym and Lee has high hopes for its future. He has spared no experience in kitting out the gym with every bit of equipment you could imagine. It includes weights benches, punching bags, treadmills, a matted area for practice sessions and sparring. And also in pride of place at one end of the room, the cage itself.

“It’s the only 24ft professional cage in Cornwall, the rest are all 16ft,” says a proud Lee. “Because of this, we are planning on holding some live fights here in the future, which should be great. I think once we are all finished and ready we should be able to get up to 100 people in here.”

If locals aren’t sure MMA is the discipline for them, there will be other martial arts classes available as well. Lee plans to offer classes in cage fighting, regular boxing, and Muay Thai Boxing. Muay Thai is a sport his other son is very keen on. People will also be able to just take advantage of the gym equipment that is available as well.

MMA Cage,Flickr CC License.

Passion in MMA

It takes special kind of person to take the plunge in the way that Curtis Lee has with this gym. It is obviously a financial and business risk to open up a gym. Especially for someone with no prior experience of running such a facility.

But Lee has clearly developed a great mental fortitude from his time practicing Mixed Martial Arts. The great mental is developed as well as dealing with the tragic loss of his son. And having seen the inner and outer strength Mixed Martial Arts can offer people, he is determined that other people can enjoy the same benefits that it has given to him.

That is truly admirable and an example of how martial arts can develop into a passion that so many people are keen to share with others. No doubt that the Cornwall MMA Gym will be a facility that the whole local community will benefit from. And it is a fitting tribute to the life of Lee’s son Mason.

Shot of The Octagon from UFC 74
By Lee Brimelow (cropped from DSC_0029) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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