By Perry Lefko
Jason Troy Warsh is a businessman in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, working with high-profile clients such as Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem, Ken Shamrock and Cris Cyborg. His company, Inner Circle Agency, bills itself as Canada’s premier agent for VIP Athlete Services. As a journalist who has written about MMA the last few years, I have emailed “JayTTropix”, as he likes to call himself, seeking to interview some of his superstar clients.
And we finally had a chance to formally meet – at Battle Arts Academy – sweating it out a week ago for two hours of strength and condition exercises collectively called WongMania in “honour” of instructor Steven J. Wong, who is one of the owners of the multi-faceted athletic centre.
The previous Saturday Jason brought in Ken Shamrock, one of the legends of MMA and a onetime pro wrestler with the World Wrestling Federation, to Battle Arts for a grappling session on the mat followed by an autograph session. In both cases, you had to pay if you wanted to have access to the superstar once dubbed The World’ Most Dangerous Man.
Jason happened to be in attendance for the appearance, but I didn’t know that. However, I overheard Christopher Dewdney, who has begun taking the Wongmania class, tell Steven that Jason would be coming back the following Saturday for the two-hour strength and conditioning class. The class has grown from an original group of five members – that included me – last September to approximately 40.
I had no idea what Jason looked like, but in the locker room before the class began I overheard him talking to Dudney, who is built like the proverbial brick outhouse. Jason is a really big dude, too, with some serious tattoos and long hair. He looks like he could be in one of those tough-guy competitions or a bouncer at a bar. I planned to interview Jason after the class for my Battle Arts Blog. There were so many topics I wanted to cover with “JayTTropix”.
I watched him labour during the class, which involves various short burst, high intensity functional exercises with few breaks in between. It’s a form of cross fitness, but in actuality it’s a physical and mental challenge. Squatting for three minutes, which is called the Breakfast Table, without standing up or keeling over is virtually impossible.
And there’s still 90 minutes remaining in the class.
Once it ended, I approached Jason to ask if he’d like to do an interview.
I wanted to know how the Oakville resident became involved in MMA, specifically his job as social media manager for Ortiz, one of the most decorated, entertaining and controversial stars in UFC history and owner of his own workout gear company called Punishment Clothing.
“His marketing manager, Joe, who is no longer with him, gave me the opportunity,” Jason said. “He patched me through to Tito and told him he had to talk me because I was doing great stuff for him on-line. We made the introduction prior to UFC 132 (on July 2, 2011 in which Ortiz submitted Ryan Bader in 1:56 of the opening round via guillotine choke) and the rest is pretty much history. I did a lot of marketing managing – for 16 years that was my forte in nightclubs – and I noticed on-line Tito wasn’t being represented properly. So we built him a powerhouse as far as an on-line network for all his members across the world. He saw what we did and hired me.”
And what does he think of Ortiz, who was once known as the Huntington Beach Bad Boy but later morphed into The People’s Champ when he decided he wanted to close out his career as a good guy.
“In my personal opinion, he’s the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC, not only because of his ability in the Octagon but his swag and pizzazz,” Jason said.
Jason does all of Tito’s VIP parties, seminars and autograph sessions across the world.
Last July, Tito signed with Bellator, the rival company of the UFC, for a fight in November against former training partner Quinton (Rampage) Jackson. The big plans had to be put on hold when it was announced Tito suffered a neck injury – a problem he has in the past and which almost ended his career – a week before the historic card. It was supposed to be the first pay-per-view in Bellator’s history, but the withdrawal of Tito scrapped the PPV plans.
Jason said Tito is in “good spirits” and “deadly shape” and is planning to fight again, likely in May.
I then switched the interview and asked Jason why he attended the Battle Arts class. He said he looked at the way Tito works out after all the physical problems and surgeries he’s had in his career and it is proof that anybody can push themselves to a higher limit of training. Jason has lifted weights aggressively for the last five years.
“This is one of the hardest classes I’ve ever done before,” he said. “I thought my conditioning was fantastic until I came here. Lifting weights puts on the size and the bulk, but the conditioning was way off, so I had to come here to improve that.”
Jason said towards the end of the class during the sled-pushing drill that he felt his heart rate elevating and he had to “let it out” – which is to say he puked.
He’s not the first person who reached that point in Steven’s class. There are red buckets conveniently placed for people who have to throw up.
“Last time I puked during training was when I was running track and field in high school when I was 17,” he said. “I’m 37 now. My body was feeling it just after the warmup, but I think I hit my plateau after the sleds. I was really, really dying. It was difficult.
“But I will do this again. I’m going to keep pushing through. A lot of people are afraid to push themselves to the next level, but once you get into the groove I think you’ll be fine.
“I’m man enough to say when I came in here, all jacked up from the gym, I got humbled. All these muscle guys lifting four plates, walking around all big and bad, they come inside here and they won’t last five minutes doing one of these workouts. It’s serious business. A lot of the exercises are core related. It was great. I recommend it to other people. I got my size from weight lifting – I’m happy with it – now it’s basically to shred. I got bored of lifting weights. It got monotonous and it got really tiring and boring. This is something else; something new. I like to get into new realms to push myself to different levels.”
Perry Lefko is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author living in Mississauga. He has worked in the media for more than 30 years, including 21 for the Toronto Sun, in which he was a runnerup twice for the Dunlop Award for outstanding sports writing in the Sun Media Newspaper chain, and voted writer of the year by the Ontario Curling Association. He has also had articles published in The Toronto Star, Trot Magazine and is currently a frequently contributor to Goodlife Mississauga Magazine and Goodlife Brampton Magazine. He is also a contributor to Sportsnet.ca. He writes about sports, health and fitness, business, entertainment, arts and politics. He is passionate about writing personality profiles, in particular the human condition and overcoming the odds. He has had seven books published, including two that were national bestsellers: Sandra Schmirler, The Queen of Curling; and Bret Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. He has also written books about Doug Flutie, Michael (Pinball) Clemons and Sandy Hawley. He has been contracted by Penguin Publishing to help broadcaster/athlete Colleen Jones write her life story. He also reviews books for Quill and Quire Magazine. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.