Choke Athletic UK Fightwear Company - August 26 2000
Meet Charles and Paul Corkery, the father and son team behind a new fightwear company, Choke Athletic. @ guys really into their MMA!:
SFUK : So what are your backgrounds?
Charles: Shotokan, TKD, Wushu Kwan, a bit of boxing, Jujitsu and the last couple of years, Vale Tudo.
Paul: Judo, which I did till I was 12, moved onto boxing which I did until I was about 28, did very well in that, then moved onto Jujitsu, Brazilian Jujitsu and then Vale Tudo which I do now. I'm still active now.
SFUK : Cool, active as a fighter?
Paul : No, not as a fighter but active training as a professional, well I think so. I train non stop.
Charles : Paul trains to a very high level and he's very shy about his abilities. He's was the London Judo champion and got to the quarter finals of the ABA boxing championship. Quite a few promoters wanted him to turn pro, but he didn't want to.
Paul : I represented England 7 times...
Charles: He could fight tomorrow if he wanted to...something Andy Jardine has wanted him to do, but he doesn't want to.
SFUK : You're not into it then?
Paul : I've got a family now. I've got other interests. Business is really taking off and financially there's no real gain. Boxing wise, if I taken that road there would have been some money in there, but it's a slow process and you have to be something very special to make any money. And I didn't feel I had it there.
SFUK : Sure, understood. OK, Choke Athletic, what inspired this?
Paul : Obviously from Vale Tudo, we've be interested in the Gracies and stuff. I started importing T shirts, rather looking for T shirts to get for myself. But I was very disappointed by the quality. So we decided to correct that. Do something different.
SFUK : How long's it been going?
Paul : Officially it's been going about 3 months.
Charles: We attend a lot of seminars. We've been to a couple of Marco Ruas's, Royce Gracie, Carley Gracie and the T shirts and merchandise just sell like hotcakes. The quality is atrocious.
Paul : Certain T shirts are very good. On the whole I like the Gracie stuff, but the prices and what you get, well it's another issue.
SFUK : Yes, sometimes the T shirts are just transfer printed onto cheap promo T's.
Paul : For instance we bought some at the Ruas seminar and they were £20 quid each and they were like toilet tissue paper. They were absolute crap. Yeah and we bought 4 each!
Charles : (smiling) It was incredible wasn't it! They sold out! .....So we started doing T shirts for ourselves and people liked them and kept asking about them so we thought there must be some sort of market out there.
SFUK : It's a good idea, it's a great sport, it delivers everything that the martial arts has always promised, great skill, action, excitement.....it could really grow...
Paul : There's a lot of hard work to do. Lee Hasdell and Andy Jardine have done a great job, but there's still a long way to go. Just recently there seems to have been like a splintering that needs to be corrected. But we don't want to get involved.
We're sponsoring some of TMA's fighters, Ian Freeman and Leigh Remedios. It's all looking healthy.
Charles : It seems logical to us, for example if Lee Hasdell's doing a show, that the promoters should get together to agree on the dates, so they don't clash. There's so many shows and so many canceled now that there's so much room for improvement.
Paul : It's not fair on the fighters. Speaking from my background, as a boxer I was treated very badly by the officials. They just don't care about you at all and I can understand the way the fighters are thinking, you know, cancellations, poor fees that are being paid....there's an argument there for improvement.
Charles : Paul boxed once, he weighed in a 9 in the morning and boxed 7 in the evening, the whole day without eating and no-one could care less...............
SFUK : OK, back to the clothes :)
Charles : We're basically looking for a launch pad, a good size quality show where we can sell our merchandise.
Paul : We do feel a lot of the stuff on offer is poor quality, out aim is to produce a decent quality product. It's costing us a little bit more to make it, but at the end of the day you're getting a better product. We looking to do all sorts of thing. Obviously T shirts, that's our primary thing, beanies, caps.....
Charles : We've got some Tapout T shirts and the quality was very poor.
Paul : Rubbish, and you can quote me on that.
Charles : RYea was crap but Tapout was very poor.
Paul : Tapout, I personally ordered a load of T shirts and I had to pay import duties and stuff, and I didn't get my returns you know, it was very poor.
Charles : What was the other one? Official Gracie Brothers, they were really poor as well.
Paul : Is it something to do with Carley Gracie? I must say I have a pair of shorts I like a lot, but the T-shirts are rubbish.
Charles : And accessories, it's so hard to find a good quality gumshield and bandages etc. We're negotiating with a top US fighter to bring in some tope quality gloves.
SFUK : And a grappling dummy, am I correct?
Paul : Yeah. When we started doing Brazilian Jujitsu, we were looking ages and ages for a decent dummy and in the end I actually got one from the Gracie Academy. Which is quite good, but it could be better. The dummy we're talking about is supposed to be the absolute business.
We're also doing supplements as well. I've been using the protein powder and I think it's excellent. To be honest I haven't tried the others yet, but the protein powders the business. So we'll be pushing that and see how far it goes.
Charles : As we've mentioned, we've attended a lot of seminars and the organization leaves a lot to be desired. We've been to seminars where there's been a mix up of directions, they've started an hour and half late, no mats or matted areas...sometimes not enough mats. Like one mat between 4 or something, that was one of the Marco Ruas seminars. They cost a lot of money and you learn nothing different.
Paul : The most important thing is the format. It's nothing special, it's the same old boring thing. We want to do something a bit different.
SFUK : So who will be teaching these seminars?
Charles : At the moment we're negotiating with 2 very, very big names, but we honestly can't say at the moment. One of them, well if this chap comes, it will be the biggest thing in the UK.
SFUK : Where will you be hosting this?
Charles : We're looking at a 4 week period to do 10 seminars all over the UK. But we're not promoters or seminar organizers, but we want to do that sort of thing to get our name known and out there. We've got other things in the pipeline haven't we.
Paul : We're actually working with Julian and TMA and Ian. He's going to UFC on September 22nd and we're sponsoring him and we;re very excited about that.
SFUK : And you're involved with TMA again in an event planned for February....
Paul : Yes, in some way. We're looking to sponsor it.
Charles : We're sponsoring it, we're looking to get a show where the audience gets their money's worth where the fights are really good quality with the fighters the public want to see. Big names, like Leigh Remedios, Ian Freeman against good opponents.
SFUK : Yes the public would be desperate to see Ian fight here again.
Paul : It will happen.
Charles : It's definitely going to happen, it's just a matter of time.
SFUK : Do you have an input in the organization and matchmaking?
Paul :It's kind of a joint effort, we're taking a backseat and letting Julian organize the fighters.
Charles : Julian's organizing all the fighters, we're putting the money up, organizing the location and again making sure the event's run professionally. I think Julian talks a lot of sense. He'd like to see more shows done on a more professional level.
Paul : He's got a lot of good contacts, especially in the states. He's been straight with us and done a lot of good for us. But we want to be friends with everyone. We don't want to tread on anyone's toes and keep a healthy relationship with everybody.
SFUK : How many people are you hoping to get at your show?
Charles : We're hoping to get about 1000, but the actual capacity is 3000.
Paul : It needs to be promoted properly.
Charles : That's another thing, the last show in kent that was canceled, there was no promotion. I've got experience in promoting professional boxing, amateur boxing and light entertainment, I know there's a lot of hard graft that needs to go in at least 6 months prior to the event. But we're not looking to make money from the show. We hope to cover the costs and push the T shirt sales and make some money that way. We love the sport. We love watching, fighting, training.
SFUK : Where are you looking to take Choke Athletic?
Paul : As far as possible. We're talking to someone who's hopefully gonna become our distributed for Japan. Then America, we've got someone in Canada interested...
Charles : The French market is huge. We're not looking to make mega bucks but we'd like to make something. Paul, he thinks of all the designs, and we just do them. Tapout are huge in America, but it's too much in your face. Well for me, I like something more reserved.
Paul : But there's a market for both and we'll tailor it so suit both.
SFUK : Well good luck with it, and thanks for the interview
Charles : Thanks a lot, I'm off to watch Fulham now LOL.
Paul : LOL Thanks!
Postscript, since this interview, unfortunately, SFUK has had a few problems with Choke Athletic
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