A trainer who longs for the fight

By Nicole Kato

UFC Gym – BJ Penn MMA trainer Richard De Los Reyes has no shortage of martial arts credentials under his belt, and his passion for the arts has led him to share his knowledge with others around the island.

De Los Reyes was born in the Philippines but was able to travel to Hawaii often. He lived in Connecticut for almost 20 years and was a resident when MMA was legalized. He stayed busy while living in Connecticut. De Los Reyes was a personal trainer from 2004-2006 at Bally’s Total Fitness, established The Mango Tree Fitness Center (2005-2008) and also established Champions’ Gym in 2009. He brought his professionalism to Oahu almost four years ago, and has since worked at Powerhouse Gym as a fitness director from 2010-11 and head professor at Gracie Barra University from 2011-12 where he taught more than 375 students.

De Los Reyes recently returned last August from a six-month trip to Tahiti, where he established Caveirinha Jiu-Jitsu Family, trained the country’s first MMA competitors and helped to establish MMA in the country. “When my six months was up, I came back home. I missed Oahu, I got homesick,” says the 2006 USKBA Muay Thai World Tournament champ. Upon his return to the island, he started working out at UFC Gym. And it’s all about goals for De Los Reyes. “I fought in Thailand, that was one of my biggest goals,” says the Bellator 15 champ who defeated Brylan Van Artsdalen by rear naked choke. His other goals included obtaining a black belt in jiu-jitsu and judo, which he achieved in addition to his black belt in tae kwon do under master Jose San Lee.

“I excelled in the arts as far as my goals were concerned … I won a couple titles, I got my wins, I got my losses, but as far as my goals, I met them,” he says. It was then that he decided to pursue MMA with his first bout in 2002. His last MMA fight was in 2011 against Russell Doane, who defeated De Los Reyes by knock out at an 808 Battleground 135-pound bout. “He knocked me out,” he says. “It was a good loss, a solid loss.”

The experience was humbling, and De Los Reyes, who holds Doane in high regard as a person and a fighter, has no hard feelings. “When I lost to Russell, it was such a humbling experience … It was God’s way of telling me to chill out on this fight thing and share knowledge.” As of now, De Los Reyes is loving his life as a professional coach, and he teaches the art of jiu-jitsu Mondays at 6 a.m. and Fridays at 5-6 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. at UFC Gym. Call (203) 510-3322 for more information.

Despite his love for teaching, De Los Reyes still has the fire within that urges him to fight again. “I can’t help but want to fight,” he says. “I’m wired for it. To say that I’m done fighting, no way. I’m going to say within by the end of the year, I want to be able to get a fight. “But life has to let it happen. I just don’t take a fight because I want to fight. I take a fight if life let’s me.”