Article by Beccy Davies
When I started this martial arts journey seven years ago, I had heard about a gym near Swansea that trained kickboxers and K1 fighters as well as running a very popular show in Swansea, called Adrenalin. I had seen their coach and founder James Wallis at various shows and events and he always seemed a friendly fellow, so as his fight nights gained momentum and his fighters advanced, I decided to write a piece on these guys as I felt they deserved some recognition, especially as they’re from a small part of Wales. They train solidly, as I found out when I visited the gym and saw some real talent. My training partner Michelle Walker took part in some training there and came away with a positive, new attitude toward K1 techniques.
Michelle and I set off on our drive to Briton Ferry, not far from Swansea on a Wednesday evening to meet and chat with James Wallis. We found the gym in what looked to be an old church. As we walked in we were greeted by James himself; the atmosphere inside was welcoming. We were taken through to a very large training area filled out with padded mats ideal for Jiu Jitsu or Judo, and surrounded on the outskirts by a variety of training bags. Going through to the next room we came upon a well kept boxing ring where we sat on the platform and began to chat about the history of this fast rising and interesting gym.
The building itself started off as a boxing gym, owned for 25 years by Paul Boyce, until James moved in eight years ago – from a kickboxing background – and re-started the gym as it had been closed for 2 years. James had originally trained as a fitness instructor so when he started a kickboxing class a week, these grew to bigger classes and more days a week followed. James found himself competing and coaching and building up a strong gym as he went along.
To give you some background on James; he started kickboxing at the age of 20, had his first fight at 21, breaking through to become World Champion, IKF, British, European, ISK Intercontinental Champion, eventually turning his skills to MMA to become the Painpit Middleweight Champion. James hasn’t fought for 2 years as he has been busy coaching, and taking a break as his best friend and biggest supporter Vince had passed away, but he hasn’t ruled out a return very soon.
James gym is unique in the fact that he has 15 to 18 active fighters and 2 that train and want to fight, with 3 females including Lauren Huxley, who is only 18 and someone I have been a fan of since she started. I watched the guys train and quickly noticed that James has certainly got some prospects in his team, including Kristian Hynes, a young powerful fighter, racking up K1 titles in the amateur division and soon to take centre stage as pro.
Not only has James got a good team around him, he also has Mike Edwards back in the fold as their Jui Jitsu coach, Mike also being one of the BAMMA Champion John Phillips‘ training partners. The start of an MMA team could be around the corner with the pedigrees of Mike and James working together to make it happen.
James explained how the gym has evolved. Years ago everyone wanted to train in Kickboxing and Muay Thai, but are now steering more toward K1; which may make it easier to find fighters as you can take your pick from the MMA or Muay Thai guys and see how they do.
With a good affiliation with the Chris Rees Academy, James has it all covered with some exciting up and coming fighters and a gym layout that covers all disciplines, this is not a gym to go to just to get fit, this is a fighting gym; pure and simple.
I asked James, if he could have any fighter past or present, to train with him for one day, who would it be. I wasn’t shocked at the answer. Ramon Dekkers of course. The Diamond himself, and the elusive Anderson Silva.
As I write this article the KGB Gym are in mourning over one of their fighters who passed away this morning. Mike Saint was mentioned in this interview by James as one who kicked like a beast. I also got the opportunity to watch Mike train that day and yes indeed, he was someone to remember, Mike shall be missed.
Thank you to James for letting me into his world of K1 and I see how hard and fast paced this team train.
Good luck to all in the future.