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Dec 05th
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Home MMA Exclusive Interview with Andreas Michael: Building Stars at All Stars Training Center in Stockholm, Sweden
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Exclusive Interview with Andreas Michael: Building Stars at All Stars Training Center in Stockholm, Sweden

andreas-michael-mmaWhen one contemplates where the best MMA fighters are cultivated, groomed, and conditioned, most people would not consider Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.  It is the most populated city in Swedish kingdom, known as a hotspot for infinite industries, and is a central place for culture, economics, media, and politics.  In essence, it is the crown jewel of Scandinavia and vital to the region.  Professional blood sports were practically non-existent in the region until recently.  At the forefront of this emerging commodity in this Swedish community is the All Stars Training Center.

There are many involved with the All Star franchise, and the man at the center of this training facility is legendary Swedish boxing coach Andreas Michael.  Michael made his way to Sweden to study and began to educate boxers.  Michael, a former multiple amateur boxing champion and professional pugilist, suffered an arm injury that ended his fighting career.  Looking to make his bones as a trainer, Michael began to drill Swedish amateur fighters.  It would only take a few years before his coaching potential would be noticed at the national level.  This opportunity eventually led Michael to a career as a chief MMA trainer.  Speaking from his home base in Stockholm, Michael explicated, "After years of coaching, I created national champions and I was asked to coach the [Swedish] amateur boxing national team.  Once I was there, I got [MMA fighters] starting to come in to the club wanting to learn how to strike.  I quickly noticed that these guys were in shape; they worked really hard.  They would spar with boxers that were more experienced and, yeah, they got their asses kicked, but they kept coming."

Michael added, "I started teaching them the fundamentals of boxing and I saw the quick progress so I thought to myself, 'We really might have something here.'  I then started to have training sessions at an MMA club and it started to pull me in more.  I also saw that there was less politics in the MMA as compared to boxing: it was easier to mold a MMA fighter and get sponsorship without having to go through all the red tape.  MMA just made sense to me."

Although it was easier to advance in the MMA world, Sweden was still not up-to-date as far as blood sports were concerned.  There was no professional boxing business to speak of and the MMA infrastructure was in its infancy, at best.  Michael saw an opportunity to lay the groundwork and grow the sport in the region.  "MMA is popular now and we actually, singlehandedly, made the sport what it is today, here in Sweden," Michael recalled.  "Everyone around here was like a free agent, a lot like Las Vegas where everyone trains in like 300 different gyms.  I didn't agree with this approach and felt that everyone would be better off if there was a home base for fighters to work out of and bring the talent together."

Michael began to reach out to the local clubs and enacted his plan of unifying the different trainers, gyms and disciplines into a cohesive unit that would be capable of producing top quality combatants, courtesy of world-class preparation regimens.  Slowly but surely, Michael saw his brainchild begin to take form and things began to get better in the Swedish MMA scene.

There is a moment when a trainer come across that one talent that can mold into a flagship fighter to represent what is possible from a specific gym.  For Michael, that moment came when he received a text message.  Michael described, "I was told about this guy that was new to Stockholm and was beating the s--- out of everyone, but that he was raw.  He was about 19 or 20 [years old].  I went to the gym and saw that [Alexander Gustafsson] was an animal; a caveman, you know?  He was just a beast and he had a natural instinct that no one could take him down." Michael continued, "Alex was learning very fast, actually and had natural instincts in his takedowns and wrestling.  He also had good instincts in his striking, that killer instinct as in he knows when to finish people.  Once he learned how to fight properly, his career took off fast."

Gustafsson, along with several other professional fighters under Michael's tutelage, began to leave a mark in the professional MMA world.  The trainers' names and the club he worked out of began to receive an influx of fighters for all over the region and from other countries looking to learn the techniques that were leading the many (alongside Michael and his team) to experience great success in the professional cage.  After all of the work and all of the blood, sweat and tears, the All Stars Training Center came to fruition.  Like a proud father touting his child, Michael said, "In 2013, we started our own team: me and my partners.  We have a great management team and great, world-renowned trainers at the gym.  We all try to help the fighters in all ways since day one.  We have grappling and wrestling coaches that are former world champions and we have great strength and conditioning coaches.  The facility has everything that a fighter needs to be successful and we make sure that all of our fighters receive the best training available.  I started out hoping to have one or two UFC fighters and we now have ten UFC fighters in our stable and we are growing.  It really is a world-class operation and we are producing some of the best trained and highly skilled MMA fighters in the world."  Michael included, "I believe we will have several UFC champions soon and we will continue to get better.  Our gym is undefeated this year and we are looking to become the best in the world."

In closing, Michael had this message, "We are looking for the rematch with Jon Jones because everyone knows that [Gustafsson] should've won that first fight and he will not fail in the rematch.  Jones knows that he is just holding the title for [Gustafsson] so Jones better give us the rematch so we can destroy him.  All Stars has the best trainers, managers, fighters and sponsors and we will continue to be successful.  We have so much talent and our stable of fighters keeps growing.  Look out for us, because we are coming to leave our mark.

Sergio L. Martinez

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