Those of us who follow the sport of mixed martial arts on a daily basis know that if you search beyond typical news headlines and fight announcements, you can find a handful of fighters who dedicate their time and money to supporting a good cause. Names like Justin Wren, Joe Lauzon, and Brian Stann all come to mind; three men known for punching faces, but also for their charity work outside of the cage.
News of MMA and boxing promoters doing the same seems to be less prevalent (though certainly not unheard of), which is why it’s refreshing to hear of an event that is centered around donating profits towards something other than a follow-up show.
One such event takes place this Friday, October 21st from the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA. Its name is Atlanta Corporate Fight Night, and it will be the 12th time that promoter and IWB Hall of Famer Terri Moss will put on such a show.
Moss, a former narcotics investigator, has a long history in combat sports. Before making the leap to fight promoter, she would fight professionally in three different weight classes for five different championships.
“I had to learn how to fight while I was actually fighting,” said Moss, who was too old at the time to qualify for amateur bouts against competition at her skill level.
Despite the age and skill discrepancy, Moss would go on to accomplish some historic feats.
“Going Pro at 36, I fought for five world titles, got inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, set a Guinness World Record – I was able to do some things considering I was the least likely to succeed,” said Moss with a hint of humor in her voice.
After retiring, she would dedicate her time to training other boxers, an occupation that helped spark the idea and brand of Atlanta Corporate Fight Night.
“I had a lot of people tell me, ‘I wish I could just have one fight,’ and I thought maybe I need to figure something out about that,” said Moss.
It was during a trip to New Zealand to train a fighter that she noticed a man in a button-up shirt that had a camera crew in tow. After inquiring about his presence at the gym, she learned that he was involved in promoting shows that featured corporate figureheads fighting one another in the name of charity.
After a conversation with the man, she learned that “corporate fight nights” weren’t rare at all, and upon flying back home began putting the pieces together for ACFN 1
“It was really interesting. I kind of fashioned (ACFN) after their show, but eventually (the promotions) became two different things. They’re similar, but now there are a lot of people around doing corporate fight shows, even in the U.S. Ours is just probably the biggest and one of the first ones.”
Fast forward to 2016, and Terri and her team have put on 11 different ACFN shows. Each event has been more successful than the year previous and has helped raise money for charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Semper Fi Fund, PAWS Atlanta and many more.
This year’s show is the largest yet, and for the first time ever will feature an MMA fight as its main attraction, a decision that was easy for Terri to make considering the popularity of promotions like UFC and Bellator.
“Every time I’ve done a show I’m like, how am I going to top that? I like to keep it as an evolving event, one that constantly changes and grows. That’s one of the things that makes (ACFN) successful, staying on a steady path and trying to evolve and change. So, I think adding MMA and kickboxing and Muay Thai is very cool.”
This year’s main event features BJJ brown belt “V” Johnson, who trains at ATT in Atlanta against undefeated amateur Rakim Thorpe (2-0).
Continuing its tradition of giving back to those in need, proceeds of ACFN 12 will go to the non-profit organization charity: water which brings “clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.” You can learn more about what charity: water is doing on a daily basis by visiting their website here.
If you’re in Atlanta, GA this weekend and want to enjoy a fun night of fights for a good cause, head on over to the ACFN website for tickets, and keep an eye out for the ACFN brand, which aims to put on more shows down the road, including the possibility of a U.S. vs. U.K. event that is sure to garner attention and benefit those less fortunate than many reading this article.
Ray Higginbotham is a writer and avid fan MMA. For more content like this, including list-based articles and fighter interviews, follow him on Twitter @_MMARAY and while you’re at it, check out his Facebook page.