Proud First Nations Fight Prez Brings Brantford its First Pro MMA Event

From Global Warriors 2 in Burlington: Josh Hill (white shorts) vs Josh Rettinghouse (blue shorts). Image courtesy of Global Warrior Fighting Champioship.

BRANTFORD – The Brantford Civic Centre will play host to Global Warriors 3, Brantford’s first professional MMA event on Friday June 24.

“We are proud to bring fans in Brantford this exciting event. Lyndon Whitlock and Bill Kamery will fight for the bantam weight championship, while Kyle Prepolec and Alex Ricci will compete for the lightweight title,” president and founder of Global Warriors Fighting Championship Garnet Ace said.

From M’Chigeeng First Nations on Manitoulin Island, Ace is also a former sports scout, and consultant.

He has worked with some of the most prominent names in sports including Joe Thornton, Owen Nolan and Ricky “the Hitman” Hatton.

His interest in the business of sports stems back to his junior hockey days.

“I found the general manager position very interesting and I always wanted to run a hockey team,” Ace said.

He utilized his people skills to get access to players, this caught the  of attention of Gene McBurney, co-founder of GMP Securities.

In the early ’90s McBurney hired Ace as an athlete representative for Fogler Rubinoff, a major law firm that specializes in sports law.

“He found it interesting that I can go into a building with thousands of people and comeback in five minutes with the person he wanted to say ‘Hi’ to,” he explained. “So we got into the player agency business and our first client together was Owen Nolan who was the first pick overall in the NHL Draft.”

In 1997 Ace co-founded Up’n Comers Inc. where he obtained licenses from the NHL and NHLPA for the rights to use their logos and images for business purposes. He also served as a liaison between the NHL, NFL, MLB and each league’s players’ association.

In 2000 he launched Ace Sports Management Consultants, a consulting company that supports amateur and professional athletes, clubs, organizations and entertainment companies.

Due to a car accident Ace was unable to continue playing competitive hockey, so he relied on his interpersonal skills and sports knowledge to help him succeed. He said it’s important for athletes to diversify their skills outside of sports.

“Athletes are athletes. Some of them just know their sport, they understand they’re very talented, but they don’t understand the business side,” he said. “For many years the owners controlled everything. Now the players unions are as powerful as the owners, so if you don’t have hockey players, you don’t have the NHL, if you don’t have UFC fighters, they (the UFC) will have to rebuild everything.”

Combat sports have been about marketing a persona for a long time, Ace said it’ imperative that fighters capitalize on that.

“I tell the guys to use my show as a stepping stone in the learning ground to get to the UFC and to develop their personality, they want colourful personalities and fighters that fans will gravitate to, not people that are just like everybody else,” he said.

When asked about his experience as an Aboriginal man in the industry, he said there’s been instances where he felt his merits were questioned.

“I’m a proud First Nations person, I’ve had conversations with high powered individuals and when I tell them I’m North American Indian, it’s was almost as if I lost a little bit of credibility,” he said. “Has that ever stopped me? No, it didn’t stop me from working and doing some things that some people would dream of doing. ”

He added that he is seeing more positive stories coming out of the Aboriginal community.

“We’re getting more educated. My daughter will be going to law school, back when I was younger to have people (Aboriginals) go to school was a very rare thing,” Ace said.

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