Jesse Finney has been around combat sports for a very long time. He has participated in all forms of fighting including kickboxing, boxing, and mixed martial arts. Finney also served as head coach of his hometown St. Louis Enforcers of the World Combat league, which of course was started by Chuck Norris.
Finney also owns, operates and trains at his 17,000 square foot facility in St. Louis. The gym serves host to both the young and the old. Finney prides himself of training people from all walks of life. Whether it is someone looking to get into shape or a fighter looking to sharpen his skills, Finney works with them all.
Heavy MMA recently had an opportunity to speak with Finney about his gym and his upcoming fight against Justin DeMoney this Saturday night on the Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery card that will take place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Heavy MMA: Can you tell us a little about your background? How did you get your start in combat sports?
Jesse Finney: When I was about nine years old I took up boxing which has a real rich tradition here in St. Louis. About a year or two after that I began kickboxing with my stepfather Robert Biggs who had competed on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I went to college and when I finished I took up kickboxing again. I made a name for myself and after awhile I had all of these grapplers coming and asking me to train them stand-up.
Heavy MMA: So it wasn’t until after college that you made the transformation from strictly stand-up fighter to all-around mixed martial artist?
Jesse Finney: I began teaching and in return they taught me how to wrestle. I got my ass kicked day in and day out and as a matter of fact, I still do. We have some great wrestlers at our gym who really know what they are doing. Along the way I picked up some jiu-jitsu. I would say it wasn’t until about 2-3 years ago that I really picked this up full steam.
Heavy MMA: How difficult is it to juggle your fighting career while you own, operate and train at your gym.
Jesse Finney: It’s not easy, but I certainly enjoy it. We have over 500 students at our gym right now. That’s not including the members who are part of our health club. If that isn’t enough, I run Shamrock Promotions, which we started in 1999. My partner Rob Donaker and I started out by holding events in small venues. We now work with organizations like Strikeforce, World Combat League and X-Fights.
Heavy MMA: So what made you decide to start taking your MMA career more seriously?
Jesse Finney: I didn’t want to be the guy who was sitting on my couch at 40-years-old wondering what if. I don’t need the money, I don’t need the fame, and I just wanted to test myself before it was too late. I’m training twice a day, six days a week. I take this very seriously. I am doing this for one person and that is strictly for me.
Heavy MMA: What can you tell us about your opponent Justin DeMoney?
Jesse Finney: I know he is 14-2 and is coming off a couple victories over some UFC veterans. He’s a young up and coming fighter. He offers me an excellent opportunity to challenge myself physically and mentally. I am definitely the underdog, but I could care less.
Heavy MMA: Have you trained anywhere else but your own gym?
Jesse Finney: Actually, I just got back from Vegas not too long ago. I was there training with Shawn Tompkins. I have been close friends with Shawn for years. I went out there and stayed in a little hotel room by myself and trained. It got me away from everything so I could go and not only become a better fighter, but a better coach as well.