2014 was a big year for the Oakdale Mixed Martial Arts Academy, and the man that runs it.
Professor Tom Theofanopoulos, owner of Oakdale MMA, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the second annual Califight awards.
“It felt incredible to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, but at the same time, it’s kind of weird to receive it so early. I feel like I have another thirty years to teach in MMA,” said Theofanopoulos on his achievement.
“It’s a big honor to receive it or to even be considered for it to be honest,” he added.
The Oakdale academy was also recognized as Gym of the Year at the Califight Awards.
“It kind of surprised me to even hear that our gym was in the running for this award. We have a wonderful facility, but to be named Gym of the Year in all of California is huge,” noted Theofanopoulos. “There are so many big name gyms, 20,000 square foot gyms across the state, and so many big name gyms in southern California as well, and to think that a small town gym would be even considered as a finalist caught me by surprise.”
Both achievements are huge, he said, but the professor is most pleased for the overall academy recognition, representing a team effort.
“I believe that winning Gym of the Year is a bigger honor than the Lifetime Achievement Award, in my opinion. To be recognized out of all the gyms, means we’re doing a great job and that our fighters are putting in quality work too,” explained Theofanopoulos. “Very proud of everyone who had a hand in our success.”
Wrapping up the awards was former Oakdale High School student-athlete Michael Gall, who took home Knockout of the Year honors.
Gall knocked out Oakland native Joshua Adams on Oct. 25 during the Hoplight Fight Productions Presents Tactical Violence: This Time It’s Personal. The fight took place at the Chicken Ranch Casino in Jamestown, and Gall entered the fight as the undersized underdog.
“I had gained weight to join the flyweight class and Adams had fought at this level before, so it was new to me,” recalled Gall.
The local fighter caught Adams with a swift left hook in the second round to end the fight.
“He came out in the first round timid, and so when the second round started, he came out the aggressor. I kept him away with my kicks. He became frustrated and charged at me, so I caught him with a left hook and he fell to the mat. He was (out) cold for about five minutes,” shared Gall about his award-winning knockout.