By Carlena Knight
Sports for us in Antigua and Barbuda is identified within several disciplines, the most popular being basketball, football, and cricket.
But one Antiguan professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter is hoping to bring this sport to the twin-island nation’s shores.
Laurence ‘Loz’ James is a 31-year-old professional athlete hailing from Crewe, England, who at a young age started in boxing. With a love for combat sports, Loz in 2011 engaged in Thai boxing and competed over 15 times. From there, he began an amateur career in MMA in 2014 where he went 5-2, before moving on to professional kickboxing with a 5-1 record.
He then returned to MMA where he began his professional career and has a current undefeated record of 2-0.
James who spoke exclusively to Observer media gave a glimpse into what pushed him to compete in what many consider a gruesome sport.
“Growing up, I played many sports, football at semiprofessional, and rugby when I was younger and as a hobby. I love a game of golf. I moved to Manchester, and the gym where I was training, all the lads were going to MMA. I’ve never been scared of challenges and I am always ready to take on something new, so the coach there had me doing some wrestling drills and I found that I was pretty good. Two weeks later I ended up having my first amateur MMA fight which is crazy to some people, but I just love testing myself even if it means jumping in the deep end and potentially getting hurt. I ended up winning this battle which boosted my confidence, which then lead on the career path of MMA,” James explained.
Despite having been born in the UK, James is proud to showcase his Antiguan heritage as his grandparents Clifford and Dorothy James hail from the Cedar Grove community. James who says he “has fallen in love with the way of life” here in Antigua and Barbuda can be seen sporting the red, white, black, gold and blue flag before and after his matches.
In fact, he shared that it is his intentionn to retire and return home with the aim of giving back.
“The sport of MMA is massive everywhere in the world right now, and I want to put my country Antigua on the map in the sport like none has done before. My plan in the future is to potentially bring the sport of MMA, kickboxing and Thai boxing to the island of Antigua and potentially open a gym and teach my fellow Antiguans, and give the youth of Antigua another path in life,” he explained.
Presently, his short-term goal is to become one of the best in the game and to make his grandparents, daughter and other family members, and especially his number one fan, his mother, Helen Amelia James, proud.
“My goal being a professional athlete is to win every fight; by any means, always put on a good show. By that, if you watch my fights, I am a very flamboyant fighter who always fights to kill or be killed. I am a very exciting fighter, and always willing to go out on my shield like a true warrior. I Am always looking for the knock which I feel my fellow Antiguans will love.
“I feel like I want to make them proud and go back and give something to the country,” he shared.
James represents the Manchester Top Team gym.