Established in 1997 by a group of friends who enjoyed training and fighting, London Shoot Fighters (LSF) has evolved into the world’s biggest MMA gym and has seen its fighters compete on MMA’s biggest stages.
“The team was set up by a group of us who’ve been friends since we were kids,” said co-founder and head coach Paul Ivens. “Myself, Alexis Demetriades and his brother Marios. We were inspired by no holds barred fighting and the advent of the UFC.”
The group shared a 700-sq. foot space with an aikido school but the group traveled extensively around the globe to sharpen their minds. “We spent subsequent years training around the world with some of the greatest fighters and coaches in MMA history, including Rickson and Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Eddie Bravo and top fighters from Shooto gyms in Japan. As well as MMA fighters we trained with top athletes in related sports like boxing, Thai boxing and Olympic wrestling,” said Ivens.
Instructors include Ivens and Alexis Demetriades, both former members of the British Olympic Wrestling Team, Andy Zajac, kickboxing and Muay Thai coach and boxing instructor Marios Demetriades. LSF contains an Olympic sized boxing ring, wrestling mat, MMA cage and a dojo with tatame mats. There is an array of strength and conditioning gear which includes cardio vascular equipment, kettle bells, atlas stones and a recovery area where fighters can recoup in the spa or hot tub. A treatment and nutrition centre is also available for those with aches and bruises.
LSF has seen various fighters pass through its doors since 1997. Fighters such as Ian “The Machine” Freeman, James Thompson, Joe Stephenson, Kevin Randleman and Jeremy Horn have all experienced LSF. UFC veteran and criminal mastermind Lee Murray called the gym home during his too-short career. Twenty-five professionals including UFC fighters Mustapha Al-Turk, John Hathaway and Dream Welterweight Grand Prix Champion Marius Zaromskis call LSF home and a host of amateurs hope to follow in their footsteps.
While LSF is the most venerated British MMA club, it has been eclipsed in recent years by gyms such as Wolfslair and Roughhouse, which are significantly smaller but turned out more top-tier talent. Questioned about his gym’s star potential, Ivens said, “I guess its how you define it and how famous they have to be. Someone like Marius Zaromskis, who is Dream welterweight and grand prix champion, has a string of spectacular knockout victories and is about to fight for the Strikeforce title, is for me, already a star.”
And lest aspiring fighters feel like LSF leaves any bit of their development to chance, the gym’s tattoo shop, Tuff Ink, and barber shop, Upper Kutz, will get your tats and Mohawk UFC-ready.
Marius Zaromskis will face Nick Diaz on Jan. 30 at Strikeforce: Miami, where the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship will be up for grabs.