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Champion Wrestler Chases MMA Dream at R1 Gym in Los Angeles

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Los Angeles, CA, May 04, 2011 –(– Mark Dickman grew up in the sleepy river town of Hannibal, MO, made famous by one of America’s literary treasures, Mark Twain. Though the two share the same first name, Mr. Dickman chose a different art form to share with the world; Mixed Martial Arts.

The young Philippine-American had taken to combat sports early, winning the Missouri State High School Wrestling Title 3 times for the Hannibal High Pirates. Moving forward, Mark’s collegiate wrestling career was just as impressive, earning All American honors 4 times culminating in a 2007 NAIA National Championship for Lindenwood University of St Charles, MO.

After college, a quirk phone call from an old friend had taken Mark ‘The Freak’ Dickman to Springfield, MO and the Gracie Barra affiliated Springfield Fight Club. At the Fight Club, Dickman blossomed, transferring his wrestling skills and competitive mindset into his new found love of MMA. Mark went undefeated as an amateur lightweight winning the Cage of Honor, Midwest Cage Combat, Elite Cage Fights, Midwest ShoFight and the Fight Night Championship title belts (that’s five in all).

“Mark has a great pedigree for success in MMA, but now is when the real work starts. He will be living Japanese style at the gym while learning to live his art form. With a little patience and a lot of training Mr. Dickman will have the opportunity to excel as a pro MMA fighter at the highest level,” says R1 founder Rico Chiapparelli.

Hearing that, Dickman decided to take the leap of faith and relocate to the R1 Training Center in Inglewood, CA. Known as the ‘City of Champions,’ Inglewood is about as far from Hannibal, Missouri as you can get, but it is where ‘The Freak’ has taken up residence for his total immersion into the next level of his MMA career. Supported by a stellar team of professionals handpicked by Chiapparelli, the young Missouri native has been a little staggered by the experience.

“I’m living a dream!” exclaims the MMA neophyte, “Sometimes it is overwhelming but I am learning to live in the moment. Now is the time to make my dreams a reality and I’m not going to quit until my heart stops.”

Since arriving in Los Angeles, Dickman has been on a frantic pace soaking up all of the combat knowledge presented to him. He has rolled with a member of the Gracie family, advised by former Boxing great Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini and sparred with a few UFC fighters.

“There is always someone ready to punch, kick or submit me back to reality,” proclaimed the newly transplanted Californian.

A typical week for ‘The Freak’ will see him training with a variety of specialists; Boxing with R1’s Chad Wigle; Muay Thai with Bryan Popejoy at the Boxing Works; Kicks with R1’s Raj Kamachee; Strength & Conditioning with Zone Ready’s Doug Gizzi; sparring with BJJ ace Sean Williams or at Renato Magnos, StreetSports BJJ in Santa Monica; setting his mind straight with Pinnacle Performance’s Dr Mike Gervais.

Mark believes that “being at R1 and working with my new coaches is a game changer. It has really opened my eyes to a whole new world. For me, it is an honor and privilege to be here.”

The R1 Gym has been a catalyst for many legendary MMA champions, from Greco-Roman wrestlers to Karate stylists, and now with its new incarnation in ‘The City of Champions’, Mark “The Freak” Dickman looks to continue in that line. With his journey beginning to take shape the only question that exists… will he, like a character in a Mark Twain novel, find MMA treasure at the end of his great adventure?

To find out more about Mark Dickman or the R1 Training Center please go to or call us at 310.322.5552.

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