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Rising Star: Lawrence Tracey, Trojans Freefighters, mixed martial arts

All Areas > Sport > General

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Friday, 22nd December 2017, 09:00

Lawrence Tracey Lawrence Tracey

If you’ve been educated at Cheltenham College there’s every chance that post-university you’ll land yourself a job in one of the top professions – a doctor, a dentist, a stockbroker… or perhaps even a job in the media!

The odd one or two may well become a professional sportsman – Gloucester wing Ollie Thorley being a good recent example.

Lawrence Tracey is another although it’s unlikely too many ex-College pupils, if any, have followed his path into professional sport.

You see, Tracey is a mixed martial artist. And that’s not all because he has designs on stepping up to the next level – the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – which is a world dominated by the likes of fighting machine Conor McGregor.

Not only that, Tracey answers to the nickname of ‘Tornado’. As he says: “It’s probably not something that you’d expect of a privately educated schoolboy!”

Now 29, Tracey was a pupil at Cheltenham College for six years up to 2007. His dad was in the RAF and he spent much of his early life living in Naples in Italy, a location you won’t be surprised to hear that he thoroughly enjoyed.

He also thoroughly enjoyed playing rugby at school – he was a full-back – and he was pretty good at it too. Good enough, in fact, to play semi-professionally for Manchester in the days when they were playing at a level just below the elite clubs in the land.

“If I was going to play any sport professionally, I always thought it would be rugby,” said father-of-two Tracey, who lives with his fiancee Corinne Davies in Swindon Village. “But then I tore both my hamstrings quite badly.

“I took up kickboxing just to get flexibility but it was soon apparent that I wouldn’t be able to keep on playing rugby.”

He’d been doing the kickboxing at MSD Evolution, a gym run by Mike Bennett in Bishop’s Cleeve.

“From there it seemed a natural progression to move into mixed martial arts,” Tracey said.

“I was 23 but the trouble was I didn’t know what I was doing. I had a couple of amateur fights, winning one and losing one, and I thought if I was going to continue doing this I needed to have more of an idea of what it was all about.”

That’s when he made the decision to move to Trojan Freefighters in Gloucester, a specialist mixed martial arts gym.

It’s there that he learned many of the tricks of the trade of the full contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from other combat sports and martial arts.

As you’d expect of an ex-Cheltenham College pupil, Tracey was a pretty quick learner.

“I had about 10 or 12 fights,” he said, “and I did quite well. I won the British amateur title and it seemed like a natural progression to turn professional.”

That was about a year ago and since then Tracey, who also works as a personal trainer, has started to make an impact in the 70 kilos (11st) lightweight category.

“I made my pro debut on 3rd December 2016 and I won with a spinning Tornado kick.” he said. “It’s not an easy move to pull off – it’s pretty difficult – and that’s how I got my nickname Tornado Tracey.”

That first fight was in Swindon but any thoughts that this game would prove easy were soon dispelled as he got beaten in his second bout in Wolverhampton – “That was a frustrating fight,” he admitted.

But he was back to winning ways in his most recent bout and it was a win that has given him the confidence to believe he can really kick on in the sport.

“The last fight was the biggest of my career so far,” he said. “It was a Cage Warriors promotion in Newport and I beat this up and coming unbeaten fighter who was a former world amateur champion.”

He is now looking ahead to bigger pay-days in 2018.

“My coach Paul Sutherland, who owns Trojan Freefighters, says that my next fight is likely to be in March with Cage Warriors,” Tracey said, “and hopefully it will be covered by BT Sport.”

If that happens, that will certainly help to raise his profile which is so important in the fight game of course.

Tracey is doing his bit as well and has an exciting style that endears him to fans, promoters and potentially TV.

“There were more than 2,000 people at Newport,” Tracey said. “They’ve come to see a fight and I like to put on a show even though I’m in the zone.

“There are always a few nerves before a fight but the adrenaline just kicks in.

“It’s very physical and you’ve got to be prepared for anything.”

As in boxing, the fighters have to work very hard in the build-up to ensure they make the weight. And as in boxing the fighters can be as much as a stone heavier than they were at the weigh-in when they get into the ring or cage the following evening.

For Lawrence, who has also had a couple of amateur boxing matches over the years, that is pretty much the only similarity between the two disciplines.

“In boxing you pretty much only have to worry about getting hit in the head,” he said. “There’s so much more to mixed martial arts. You can kick, wrestle, grapple, throw punches on the floor, use your elbows. It’s much harder.”

So what was Corinne’s reaction when Tracey said he was going to do all that and more professionally?

“She was a bit shocked and a bit worried,” he admitted.

That may be so but it hasn’t stopped her standing by her man when he goes into the heat of the battle.

“She always sits in the front row when I fight,” he laughed, “and she’s always shouting and screaming.”

It sounds like they’ve both got plenty to shout about.

Other Images

Lawrence Tracey, right, has enjoyed a couple of impressive wins
Lawrence Tracey is becoming a big name in mixed martial arts
Lawrence Tracey
Lawrence Tracey trains at Trojan Freefighters in Gloucester

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