Pugilistic plans for Mammoth; "Working Group" sets sights on boxing, UFC


Mammoth has never been known for boxing or for ultimate fighting outside of the occasional barroom brawl or neighborly fisticuffs, but that might be about to change.


John Urdi, the director of Mammoth Lakes Tourism, is working with a special group to bring both boxing and ultimate fighting to town for high altitude training.


“In the grand scheme of things,” Urdi said, “Mammoth in terms of high altitude training is really running based, a little bit of cycling based, and to a certain degree, triathlon-based.


“But there is a lot of activity in Big Bear, and we think we might have a few opportunities to bring camps here. What we have that Big Bear doesn’t have is air quality, and the overall experience.”


At the center of Urdi’s evolving idea is Royce Gracie, one of the world’s most famous fighters. Gracie is a specialist in Brazilian professional mixed martial arts, an Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. 


A legend and pioneer in the sport of mixed martial arts, he is widely considered to be the most influential figure in the history of modern MMA.


He also happens to have a home in Mammoth.


At 46, Gracie is nearing the end of his career, but Urdi and his group have had discussions with him about establishing a training camp for fighters. 


“We’re thinking of how we can put these camps together to get other UFC fighters and also boxers to train here.”


On the steering committee are Alan Oppenheimer (Mammoth All Weather Shuttle and Mammoth Bazil), Ralph Lockhart (Snowcreek Athletic Club) and Michael Ledesma—(Gomez’s), who has a background in fitness and selling fitness equipment.


“Really, Mammoth can serve as a ‘base camp’ for certain types of athletes who want that high altitude advantage,” Urdi said.


To that end, he said he also is continuing conversations with the U.S. Rowing team, which may appear in Mammoth to use the high altitude to train, without so much as putting a boat in the water.


But the group is closer on the boxing and UFC front, Urdi said, and not only for its pristine air. Mammoth also is close to Las Vegas, the de facto capital of boxing and UFC fighting in the U.S.


“They can train here and then get over to Las Vegas and still have that high-altitude training advantage,” he said.


The benefit to Mammoth, Urdi said, is to further commit Mammoth as a high-altitude training Mecca in a number of sports beyond running and snow sports.


Utimately, it deserves a fighting chance