Kickboxing / Muay Thai
Stephen Upchurch came to KnuckleUp in 2005 after a successful boxing career at the University of Georgia where he received degrees in English and advertising.
Although he has been training in combat sports for most of his adult life, he only turned pro in mixed martial arts in 2012 after previously working for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and local advertising agencies. “I boxed in college and when I graduated and came to Atlanta I knew I wanted to keep doing it,” Upchurch said. “I found KnuckleUp and they introduced me to Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA. I came here and saw people kick each other in the face and thought, ‘why aren’t I already doing that?’. After a move to Thailand, Upchurch returned stateside to KnuckleUp where he trains in BJJ, boxing, wrestling and all things MMA. He currently teaches kickboxing and Muay Thai at KU, as well as takes personal training clients.
Q: Do you have any advice for beginners?
A: You won’t regret the things you did … only the things you didn’t do. It doesn’t matter if it’s for weight loss or cage fighting. Anything new is scary to start, but you should do it anyway. Do it … because not doing it sucks.
Q: What drives you?
A: The fear of retrospect. I don’t want to look back and wish I had given it 100 percent or that I had the guts to step up to the plate no matter what it was I wanted to try. I’d rather look back and say, ‘maybe that wasn’t for me’ than never knowing. There’s a really good Teddy Roosevelt quote from a speech in Paris:
“It is not the critic who counts: Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory or defeat.”
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
A: I just like to fight. Belts and medals are fun to have but getting in a fight is a hell of a lot more fun! I like to punch my friends in the face. No, seriously, I really like the test. You spend so much time training and you want to know how you’re doing. The only way to do that is to find someone of comparable size and see if you can kick their ass or not.
Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not at KnuckleUp?
A: I’m very close with my family. My mom, dad, sister and her fiancé live very close to me so I get to spend a lot of time with them. My girlfriend, Andrea, is an enormous part of my life and my brother works with UFC out in Vegas as a video editor. Other than that, I just play with my dog, Dekker, who is named after my favorite Thai boxer. This is my job, my hobby and my passion. This is where all my friends are and I like it that way. I do have friends from school but they usually come out to fight nights.