MarkHolst.com

About Mark

My first steps in life.

I was born in 1985 in Ottawa and lived in Hull, now Gatineau, for the first 3 years of my life. I then moved to Aylmer, Quebec, where I still live. I went to a French primary school and a high school called Grande-Riviere.  My dad was born in Denmark and moved to Canada when he was six, and my mom is from the National Capital Region. My mom’s family is Fench Canadian and lives in Gatineau and my dad’s family lives in Ottawa\Kanata region. Family is very important to me and both sides have always supported me. My dad has passed away. He was a history teacher at Algonquin College. My mom, now retired, was a teacher and educational administrator both at Algonquin College and La Cite collegiale.  I am fluent both in English and in French and I speak a little bit of Thai.

When I was 3 years old, I started downhill skiing. My first hill was Marmot Basin near Jasper. From that age on, I was skiing every winter at Edelweiss and Mont Ste-Marie until I made the switch to snowboard when I was 12 years old.

During my high school years, I enjoyed subjects like history and geography, hanging out with my friends, doing sports and traveling with my parents. I was in the Cyclones Basket Ball team for 3 years. I also played tennis, badminton and soccer. I was a member of my high school chess club. I was also hooked in pc games … until I found martial arts.

My first steps in martial arts

I found martial arts watching WWF and UFC with my friends. I enrolled in a Karate Dojo at 15 years old. I trained at Douvris Martial Arts at its Aylmer location with Sensei Miguel Moreno and Sensei Kirk Kelly. After being promoted to Yellow belt, I started boxing at the Karate Dojo with the instructors and senior students like Stephane Bernadel. I trained at Douvris (Shotokan Karate) after school every night and all summer long, and got promoted to black belt when I was 17 years old. I went to many small point fighting tournaments in Ottawa and I made the national team to represent Canada in the WKA in Basel Switzerland in 2004 in full contact kickboxing . For the WKA tournament, I was training with Douvris but also was introduced to Jean-Yves “the Iceman” Theriault by my karate coach. I trained with the Iceman for a few years and fought and won many times in the Iceman circuit and on other Quebec kickboxing circuits.

Sensei Miguel Moreno knew that I wanted to fight in mixed martial arts competitions and gave me the Renzo Gracie contact number in Ottawa. So, at age 17, I met for the first time Pat Cooligan at his old location at East Wind Budo, a karate dojo, where he was training and teaching Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu.  After getting tapped out by white belts a few times, I quickly realized that this was the real deal. For the 1st year of training with Pat, I was able to go only every Saturday because of my kickboxing fights. When I came back from the WKA in Switzerland, I decided to get serious with BJJ and that coincided with Pat moving to his own location, the Ottawa Academy of Martial Arts at 1673 Carling Avenue. Pat invited me to watch Pride PPVs and UFC pay per views all the time and I got to hang out a lot with Hammer, Nick and Steve.

Pat took great care of me and quickly took me under his wing and into the team. It made me feel part of a team, which is very important to me. Not long after I started training with Pat, I became a full time student and instructor in the kids program and also kickboxing program. I was traveling by bus 6 hours every day to OAMA from Aylmer to train and teach, until my mom gave me her old car …

Pat took me to my first grappling tournament (Grapplers Quest: Beast of the East 2005) where I won the gold medal in the no-gi only after a few months of training in BJJ and where Hammer took the gold in the blue belt division and choked out Ryan Hall for the first time. In NYC, Pat and Hammer and I shared an apartment and we had a great time!
Pat cornered for me for the first time in Drummondville for my last kickboxing fight which I won via TKO in the 3rd round thus ending my amateur kickboxing record with 4-1-1.

Pat took Nick and I to NYC to train with Kru Phil Nurse at his gym called the Wat. That is where I met Jamie Crowder who came to OAMA shortly after for its first Muay Thai Seminar. Nick and I would train at the Wat every month and that is when we started to teach real Muay Thai at OAMA.

After fighting in kickboxing and in Jiu Jitsu tournaments under Pat, it became clear to me that I would want to make this my life: teach martial arts and compete. Pat told me to get experience in both stand up and ground competition and then I could make my MMA debut. Pat provided me with numerous opportunities to improve and excel in both sports.

Year 2005 was the year I started competing in BJJ: I won the gold medal at the Arnolds Schwarzenegger,  and also the gold both at Grapplers Quest and Copa Atlantica. I was promoted to blue belt – on the mat of the competition – in Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu by Igor Gracie who was the referee for my fight and by Pat Cooligan who was coaching me.

In the 2005 Summer, Pat introduced me to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the first of five trips/training camps.  I trained at the Gracie Barra Academy.

I fought and won (by TKO 1st round) my first Pro fight in MMA with APEX\Freedom fight production in 2006 under Pat along with Nick, both of us making our debut. We had a grueling training camp for the months of November and December of 2005 and fought in the event in January 2006.

I went to Thailand in March\April 2006 for my first time, alone. There I trained and lived Muay Thai for one month under Lanna Kiat Busaba Muay Thai camp with Andy Thomson. I fought twice in pro muay thai in Chiang Mai at the end of my stay and won both times against experienced Thai fighters, first with a TKO 1st round and the second fight two days later with KO in 4th round.  I brought back all my knowledge of training and fighting and, along with Nick, we trained all the students in the ways of northern Muay Thai.

In January 2007 I fought my second pro MMA fight in Guam this time, against Alex Castro and won by triangle choke. After that fight, I got a big fight in the NYC promotion called Mayhem On Mulberry Street which I fought modified pro muay thai against Abder Bchri who had some 80 fights under his belt. We went to decision. I won by unanimous decision.

Later that year, I took at team of students to Thailand and fought in Chiang Mai at the Gawila Stadium where I won the pro muay thai fight in a 2nd round KO. I went back at the end of the year 2007, this time to get certification in Bangkok where I was awarded the Senior Instructor Certification by the Ministry of Education of Thailand and the World Muay Thai Council.  Then, back to Canada where I fought in Amateur Muay Thai under CAMTAO against Enzo Rojas. I won by unanimous decision. I also competed at the Throwdown in O-Town against Peter Arcalas and I won by unanimous decision to take the Middleweight Championship title. My last amateur muay thai fight was in another Throwdown  in O-Town production against Sacha Hijazzi which I lost to a split decision.


My instructor Pat Cooligan took me to Los Angeles to train and fight BJJ. I competed in the Las Vegas XFA organization which is modified pro Muay Thai (no elbows) and in XFA twice, against Kevin Ross. I won via TKO 1st round and the second opponent was his coach Mark Beecher which I defeated in 2nd round TKO.

In 2008, I went back in the MMA ring to fight for Freedom Fight against Justin Doyon to win in a 1st round TKO. I also fought for the Freedom Fight Light Weight championship against Kris Donaldson and I won in the 2nd round via TKO.

I was selected to fight in the Top 8 Canadian Tournament for the Contender Asia series. The Canadian try outs were in Calgary. My first fight in the tournament was against Jesse Jones. I won by KO in the first round and then I advanced to the semis against Alex Ricci. I lost to by unanimous decision. I fought once more Pro MMA, this time in a cage at the XMMA show in Montreal against Antoine Coutu. I won in the 1st round TKO.

A few days after that, I went to Lampang in Thailand to train Muay Thai this time with Ajarn Burklerk Pinsinchai for a solid month. During that stay, I fought 3 times, once in Chiang Mai (win via unanimous decision)  in November, then in Bangkok on the King’s Birthday (win via unanimous decision) and two days later in Lampang (win via 1st round KO).

I fought this year (2009) in CFC in Winnipeg against 170 lbs champion Dave Zuniga and I won the split decision.  Right after that, I fought Martin Grandmont back in the cage for W-1 in Hull. I lost by KO in the 1st round.

My goals

I am aiming to go all the way to the top of fighting.  I aspire to fight to the pinnacle of MMA and fight the best fighters. I am investing all my energies toward these goals and I have adopted for the last five years a lifestyle – teaching and training full-time – that will help me attain these goals.

Martial arts have given me confidence, courage, team, honor, discipline and loyalty. It has taught me so many things. The way of life has made me who I am now. I am just starting paying martial arts back and passing on the knowledge that I have acquired through my life to the students of OAMA. I want to fight and represent OAMA, my instructor Pat Cooligan, Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu and OAMA Muay Thai the best I can. I want to give back to OAMA and to the people who have given me so much. In the future I would like to continue teaching under my instructor Pat Cooligan at the OAMA academies.

I would like to get more time to train and to get my purple belt in Renzo Gracie jiu jitsu.  I also hope to fight at high levels in Thailand, like in the Rajadammuan Stadium or the Lumpini Stadium. But nonetheless, those are side goals.  If they happen, then great, but my main goal is to focus in MMA and to go to the top.

I take every fight as a learning experience. Good and bad fights, I always learn a few things from them. Every fight is a step closer in achieving my big goal. I am 23 years old now and I know I have so much more to learn. I will continue in the martial art lifestyle, fighting lifestyle and OAMA lifestyle until I cannot do so anymore.

I believe that my wrestling and BJJ has improved a lot. I have a great team here to help me.  I train everyday with Hammer, Nick, Jeff, Steph and all the students of OAMA. I am also well supervised by my mentor and instructor Pat Cooligan, and by my striking coach Kru Chris Kew. My strength and conditioning have gone up every year and I feel more and more confident about my skills. I have been lucky not to have any serious injuries and also to have trained and taken part in seminars with high level BJJ instructors (Renzo Gracie, John Danaher, Carlos Gracie Jr. Igor Gracie, Rolles Gracie, Gregor Gracie, Roger Gracie, Marcio Feitosa and Fabio Leopoldo) and high level striking coaches (Kru Chris Kew, Ajarn Burklerk Pinsinchai, Jongsanan Fairtex, Andy Thomson, Kamon (Den) Khaengraeng, Kru Mel Bellissimo and Jamie Crowder).

I was given the fight name ‘’Boots’’ by Pat because I use my legs a lot.

With this great experience and all that has been given to me to help me to get where I am now – training seminars, coaches, instructors, training partners and a supporting family -, I believe that my team can take me all the way.

Along with OAMA students and training partners, these are the people who have made me who I am and helped me through my fighting career. My mom, who has been my dietician, helped me make weight, and always supported me in my career choice even though it meant supporting me going in the ring contrary to motherly instincts! My dad who was sick with Huntington, gave me the motivation to fight for him. Pat, who is my mentor, and has been so generous in helping me attain my goals and take me to the top, has always been there for me when I needed him inside and outside the ring and the academy. Nick with whom I made my debut in Pro MMA has always been a big brother to me looking out for me in good and tough times, making sure I have time to train. Hammer who has been one of my main training partners has helped me tremendously with my jiu jitsu and wrestling and, thanks to him, I feel confident about my ground game and wrestling. Kru Chris Kew is most of the times brought to Ottawa a week or two before my fights to sharpen up my muay thai and to make sure my fitness is top notch.

Records:

Amateur Kickboxing: 4-1-1

Amateur Muay Thai: 2-1-0

Pro Muay Thai: 11-1-0

Pro MMA:  5-1-0

Titles:

2X Grapplers Quest Champion

1X Arnolds Schwarzenegger Classic Champion

1X Copa Atlantica Champion

World Muay Thai Federation Middle Weight Champion

Freedom Fight MMA Lightweight Champion

renzo-pat-me

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