Soon after Brian Shotwell and wrestling coach Antony Sharples met, they wrestled.
“He’s really experienced and he’s a really good coach. We went ahead and wrestled just to see who is better. I trust that,” Shotwell said.
You have to remember they are adults — Shotwell is 31-years-old and Sharples is a 2001 Oak Harbor High School graduate. Shotwell is opening MPWA Combat Sports in a 7,600 square foot former storefront inside the Woodville Mall next month.
The MPWA will offer classes and training in all forms of mixed martial arts, including Jiu Jitsu, Mauy Thai, and Karate.
There will also be boxing, professional wrestling, and amateur wrestling classes. For instance, a wrestling takedown
class will tie into MMA, which Sharples will be part of. Sharples will also oversee the Silverfox Wrestling Club.
For adults and children who want to take classes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get into the ring or on the mat and get physical.
“People can come and work out and learn something new when they are doing it,” Shotwell said. “They don’t have to beat each other up to get a good workout from learning this. It depends on what they concentrate on.”
Shotwell is originally from Monroe, Michigan and remains part-owner of an indoor gardening shop in Ann Arbor, which is where he spends his daytime hours. After living in Ann Arbor he has moved his residence to a home near the Woodville Mall.
Shotwell has been working inside the mall since December to get the facility ready. MPWA is scheduled to open after March 1 with an open house planned for March 5. He plans to have trainers available for each sport at the open house, information will be available, and visitors will have a chance to sign up for activities.
Shotwell has personal reasons for wanting to get this operation running. His oldest son is a highly-touted wrestler at Carleton Airport High School (Mich.) and he wants his other three boys to be successful on the mat, too.
“Being involved in wrestling clubs all this time I’ve learned a lot and I’ve met a lot of people in all kinds of towns that have sports,” Shotwell said. “I’ve based it around on having stuff to do for (my children). I wanted my kids to always be able to wrestle. My younger son also wrestles and I have two very young ones who also someday will be wrestling.”
At Oak Harbor, Sharples was a four-year starter who just missed qualifying to state. He spent time training on the freestyle senior level and last competed in 2009 at the prestigious Dave Schultz International in Colorado Springs. A severe knee injury has forced him to focus all of his attention on coaching. He is a USA Wrestling Bronze Certified coach also certified in CPR and sports injury prevention.
He is also a full-time University of Toledo student majoring in religious studies and resides in Genoa with his wife, Tausha, and children, Braeden, 9, and Hallie, 4.
“I’ve wanted to start my own club pretty much since I got out of school. It’s kind of my goal to one day have my own club,” Sharples said.
In 2009, he started the Silverfox Club in a barn with most of his wrestlers coming from the Genoa area. But that got old.
“It was in a barn, so it was kind of weird,” Sharples said. “I really shouldn’t be bringing people from the outside in, you know, so I was looking for a place that had enough space. The (mall) store itself is huge.”
Wrestling is in Sharples’ blood, even in the blood of his stepfather — former Eastwood state qualifier Brian Hardy. In 2004, Sharples got involved with former Eastwood coach Ralph Cubberly and current coach Joe Wyant.
“I got a lot of experience there. They were a top-notch program and that was during their hey-day period, right there,” Sharples said. “So, that really motivated me and it really showed me I could do it. It’s just the way things worked out time-wise.
“You learn a lot growing up. I’ve been doing this stuff since I was 7-years-old, and as I got older I had a junior high wrestling coach, and he was a real big influence on me about wrestling,” Sharples continued. “When I went over and worked with Ralph and Coach Wyant, that’s when I started learning a lot about coaching. It was great to work out with them guys and learn different things. It really opened my eyes to a different style of wrestling because their style is a little different than Oak Harbor’s and I could take the best of both worlds and mesh them together.”
Sharples plans to feature freestyle and Greco-Roman styles as well as provide a forum for young wrestlers to compete.
“Usually, the older kids are more drawn to (Greco-Roman), but my goal is to have everybody involved — even the younger kids. I want the kids to get involved and want them to start at a younger age,” Sharples said.
Working with Sharples at Silverfox will be Rudy Lopez, a former state placer in high school. Lopez spent one year on the Eastwood staff and four as an assistant at Erie Mason (Mich.). He is currently training for the U.S. Open. Lopez, who is trained as an amateur fighter, brings 20 years experience to Silverfox.
Former Northwood state placer Jake Grigson also joins the staff. Grigson has spent time helping the Northwood coaching staff and currently holds an undefeated professional MMA record.
There will be more to the Silverfox Club than just wrestling, Sharples insists.
“I’m really stressing academics with the kids and I’m going to have tutoring and ways to have kids work off some of the costs and stuff like that,” Sharples said. “With this economy, many kids’ families can’t afford to do things so hopefully this will help them out. I’m meeting with a tax accountant now to get everything set up and learn about how to go about things.”