MMA fighter uses Kimbo Slice fight to launch Orlando gym

Welcome to The Jungle

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  • | 6:46 a.m. April 21, 2016
Photo by: Sarah Wilson - Baldwin Parker Seth Petruzelli earned fame by knocking out Kimbo Slice in 14 seconds. Now he's helping locals get fit and fight at his Orando-area gyms.
Photo by: Sarah Wilson - Baldwin Parker Seth Petruzelli earned fame by knocking out Kimbo Slice in 14 seconds. Now he's helping locals get fit and fight at his Orando-area gyms.
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It all came down to 14 seconds and Kimbo Slice’s beard.

On Oct. 4, 2008, Baldwin Parker Seth Petruzelli entered the ring opposite of the famously well-coiffed street fighter. Within 5 seconds of the referee calling “Fight!” Petruzelli had Slice on the ground. Petruzelli saw Slice’s beard duck down as he prepped for a left hook, and took him down with two short kicks and an onslaught of right hand punches.

Less than 10 seconds later, the fight was over. Technical knockout.

“All I thought was ‘beard!’” Petruzelli said. “I connected with it and just kept swinging with my right hand until the referee pulled me off.”

Once he realized what had happened, Petruzelli took off in a dizzying round of victory laps around the ring – fists raised above his head in manic celebration.

It was 14 seconds that would change Petruzelli’s life, and motivate him to open The Jungle MMA and Fitness gym in Orlando. He used his prize money from the Slice fight to open his first gym location on East Colonial Drive just east of Shine Avenue in 2009. He named it The Jungle as a play on his nickname “The Silverback” that he used in the ring.

Today, six years later, Petruzelli is retired from fighting and has expanded his business to three locations. The gym offers classes in a variety of mixed marital arts, teaching everyone from kids to adults. But keeping a business afloat, he said, is a fight within itself.

“Owning a business is like a fight in a way,” he said. “You have to fight to survive when most businesses fail within the first year.”

Petruzelli made it through the first year with flying colors, and doesn’t plan on tapping out of the market anytime soon. He loves being able to share his love of martial arts with the next generation, and even those of the same generation who may have previously been too intimidated to try MMA.

He prides himself on making his gym approachable to everyone from “Little Gorillas” in the kids program, to adult men and women.

“Everyone that comes in here falls in love with it,” Petruzelli said. “...People say they’re sick of doing the same old thing at the gym.”

Petruzelli first fell in love with karate at the age of 6. Then he started football and wrestling, and eventually combined his skills from all three into his first professional MMA fight.

“I wasn’t a stranger to competition, but I was to that kind of competition,” he said. “...That person’s job is to knock you out or tap you out, and my job is to knock him out or tap him out.”

Petruzelli holds a first degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, third degree black belt in karate and is a former national champion in karate. Recently he picked up a gig as the head striking coach for WWE in the performance wrestling group’s developmental system. But before all of his success, it was the art and discipline of the sport that first got him hooked.

“I’m still addicted to it, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think it sets you up for success, the lessons it teaches you in discipline and respect.”

Petruzelli’s greatest success just happened to come from a chance encounter with Kimbo Slice’s beard.

Exiting the ring a winner gives you one sense of accomplishment, he said, but building a business from the ground up is another.

“It’s a great feeling, it really is,” he said.


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