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Ramico Blackmon was a resident at the United States Olympic Training Center for 10 years. During his time at the Training Center Ramico competed all over the world and compiled a number of international titles. Ramico competed against some of the best wrestlers in the world, including Olympic and World Champions. He is now continuing his success in the world of MMA. He sat down for an interview with us.
Tell us how you got started in wrestling?
It was my freshman year in high school. I had just moved from a small town in GA to a very big city in FL. There was an announcement made over the intercom to sign up for wrestling in room 7. It got my attention because my grandfather, who had recently passed away, was an avid WWF fan. I simply signed up because I thought it would honor him.
There was a rumor when you were in college that you never lifted weights, was that true and is it still true today?
It’s true, I didn’t lift weights in college with the exception of the weight lifting class I took for a semester my sophomore year. It wasn’t necessarily by choice though. My training programs in those days consisted of a lot of plyometric workouts and the old school of thought: there’s nothing better than wrestling to make you a better wrestler. It still holds true to some degree today. I keep weight lifting at a minimum primarily because it is a supplement to what I do as an athlete. I am a wrestler. I am a fighter; not a weight lifter. In my career they don’t hand out medals or titles for weight lifting, so I focus on keeping the main thing…the main thing.
What achievement are you most proud of in your wrestling career?
Hmm. Interesting! There are so many victories at different levels that could change my answer to this question tomorrow. I have beaten the best wrestlers the world has to offer, including the world and olympic champion in my weight class, but the achievement was not in beating them. The achievement was in how I beat them. That was, and is today, trusting in God, who He says I am, and what He says I can do with Him.
What kind of music do you listen to when you are working out?
Anything that affirms who I am in Christ and stirs up the warrior in me.
We all have at least one, what is the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
Quando, Quando, Quando by Michael Buble featuring Nelly Furtado. I am a fan of beauty and it’s just a beautiful song. My 3 oldest sons cringe when I play it though.
Why did you make the switch from wrestling to MMA and how was the transition?
I have a list of why’s in switching from wrestling to MMA, but the primary one is that I simply felt at peace in doing so. It felt like home to me.
What does one of your typical MMA workouts look like?
Practice is about 2 hours long. We start out with grappling (wrestling to a submission) for about 20 min. Then we strap on gloves and shin guards for about an hour of sparring which includes kick boxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu, and every other thing we saw in the Chinese Connection with Bruce Lee. After practice, I usually take about 5 minutes or so to reflect and determine what I could have done better. The last 20-30 min I spend drilling those techniques. This is when practice starts. This is what I will remember the next day.
Between training at the Olympic Training Center and training for MMA I am sure you have had some pretty crazy workouts, what is the craziest workout you have ever had?
Remember, I am a wrestler. There is no such thing as a crazy workout if I got through it. It’s just another workout. I understand what you’re asking though. Most would define a crazy workout by who and what you have to deal with to get through it and perform. Here is a snapshot of the what. When I was training for the 2008 Olympics I had been diagnosed with a concussion and a strained maniscus. I could no longer grab my opponent without my wrist feeling like it was caught in a bear trap. (Thank God no one knew about this one since most of my takedowns came from grabbing my opponent). I was also seeing a chiropractor to put my rib back in place after practice on an almost daily basis. Medical professionals at the Olympic Training Center had given me the run down on my physical limitations because of a diagnosed back and hip injury. It was also during the time when the medical staff at the Olympic Training Center said that the low numbers in my white blood cell count resembled that of an H.I.V victim because of overtraining. The who was 2007 World Champion, Bill Zadick, who was consistently on the injury list as well. He often looked like a mummy because of all the tape, bandages, and braces he wore in practice. It was one of those days we just had to go. Olympic Trials were getting closer and closer. The atmosphere was intense. Emotions were near an all-time high. Practice was going to be work cut out for only those that average wrestlers couldn’t imagine. Then we heard those familiar words from our coach, Terry Brands: “wrestle!” Whatever pain or injury we had was shed off in the battle because we were all over each other with no consideration what doctors said we had or could not do. It was a long, hard practice. Here is the craziest part of it: this was nearly every day. The days that it wasn’t Zadick, it was some other wrestler who was one of the best in the world. That’s the Olympic Training Center.
What kind of cardio works best for you and why?
Wrestling, kickboxing, and jiu jitsu will always be the best cardio workouts for me since that is what I do in the form of MMA. Weights and all the other lifting routines hardly come close to that live action. However, I have found that interval training with plyometric exercises with and without weights are decent supplements to what I do in MMA. I believe this to be good for me because I enjoy working with my heart rate up which is what interval workouts do. The plyos allow me to simulate movements that are specific to my sport while building core strength and endurance.
If you could give somebody getting into MMA only one tip what would it be?
Be patient enough with yourself to make mistakes and to take a beating so you can distribute them.
Tell us about your biggest athletic influence?
Ironic as it is, I have rarely looked as myself as an athlete nor chosen one to influence me. I have always seen and known myself simply as a warrior. Even as a child, before I knew that word or knew what it meant, I knew I was that. Because of that I have only allowed those who I deemed as warriors influence me. My favorite, for most of my adult life, has been the Hebrew King David. King David was a warrior King and a man after God’s own heart. If you were to take the parts off me, these two you would find at my core.
What is your favorite cheat food?
My wife makes this sour cream coffee cake that is out of this world! Man! So good! It’s hard to believe that we have ingredients on Earth to make something taste that good. Anyway…next question!
Do you take any supplements?
Yes I do take supplements. I take a basic multivitamin from Nutrilite with omega 3’s. I also use their protein powder occasionally. That’s pretty much it. I don’t use a lot of supplements because they are just that…supplements. I want the real thing…food. Good food. Healthy food.
What does the future hold for you?
I see a very bright future for myself. I see great victories. I see me as the best at what I do. I will always be at the top of whatever I put my hands to. I don’t say that out of arrogance. I simply believe that was put in my DNA by my Creator. Mediocrity just doesn’t settle with me. Never has…never will.
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