You can be sure that when assistant principal Joe Pomfret barks orders in the hallways at Ashfield Middle School in Brockton the students listen.
After all, the professional fighters he trains are all ears when Pomfret speaks.
As the main trainer for Joe and Dan Lauzon and many more local fighters, Pomfret has successfully helped transform what was once a relatively obscure gym in Bridgewater to a go-to gym for both aspiring and professional MMA fighters alike.
Growing up he studied karate, eventually earning a black belt. Pomfret entered the Marines directly after high school and became a scout sniper. When he got out in 1995, the UFC was only a few years old and he still wanted to continue some type of martial arts.
“The UFC rolled around. I got out of the Marines in 1995, two years after the UFC started and I joined an MMA gym,” said Pomfret. “I fell in love with it.”
Pomfret started training with Roberto Maia of Boston Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and in 1996 he started his gym in Bridgewater, now run by himself and Joe Lauzon — Lauzon MMA.
Joe Lauzon started training under Pomfret when he was in high school in 2001 and together the pair have stayed and grown successful under one another.
“Joe’s awesome. He tightens up everything I do — jiu-jitsu, boxing, wrestling,” said Lauzon, who admits the 37-year-old Pomfret can still throw down. “I’ll think I’m doing good and then he whips my ass.”
As one can imagine, with the success Joe Lauzon has endured in his early career, the gym has seen a new influx of prospective fighters.
“We’re definitely growing but it’s not an explosive growing process,” said Pomfret. “It’s definitely gradual. We just enjoy training and the rest takes care of itself. It seems to be contagious.”
Now when Pomfret follows Joe and Dan to the octagon, it is no surprise that his middle school students in Brockton take notice when seeing him on TV or the internet.
“Whatever helps me keep control in the school,” said Pomfret. “[Brockton is] the City of Champions, Rocky Marciano, a rich sports history and things so that’s nature. The kids identify with it, that’s for sure.”
The relationship between Pomfret and the Lauzon brothers, which has helped all parties gain notoriety on a national level, has a deeper connection. They feel a family bond.
Joe Lauzon calls Pomfret his second dad and Pomfret says he loves the Lauzon brothers like sons — and they all enjoy reminiscing about the past.
In fact, Pomfret now will sometimes cringe when he sees Dan warming up for practice. After all the beatings he, Joe and company put on the younger brother “when he was small and defenseless.” Pomfret wonders if the day will come when he’s on the receiving end.
“We use to beat the living hell out of the poor kid and he used to cry every night,” Pomfret said about Dan. “Now when we’re training and he’s ready and puts his gloves on, I secretly kind of shy away.”
Joe Lauzon, who now calls Dan his little, big brother, remembers: “We used to wrestle on the trampoline and Dany was the guinea pig. I was probably 16 or 17 and he was like 12 or 13. We were merciless. I’m amazed the kid can still walk.”
Though the days of backyard trampoline wrestling are long gone, some of the people there in those after-school days are still around. And though no one is power bombing Joe, some of his close friends are still helping him train. And while under the tutelage of Pomfret, who has also fought professionally, Joe has begun to develop a trainer’s mindset.
“We are such a tight knit group of guys. The main guys that I train with at the gym are like brothers,” said Joe. “When my guys win I’m so much more proud of their wins than I am of my own. Like one of my fighters, coming off a loss and then comes back to get a win. I’m so proud of those guys. I’m so much happier for them than I was when I knocked out [Jens] Pulver or anything like that.”
Five students from Lauzon MMA will be in action this weekend.
Tonight, Jimmy Collins and Joe Proctor will be fighting respectively at Full Force: Untamed 30 in Westport. Both young fighters remind Joe, who describes them as monsters, of himself and his brother.
“Where they’re at, they’re right neck-and-neck with me and my brother for sure. They’re going to need a little bit more time,” said Joe. “I feel bad, they’re fighting locally against guys who don’t really know what they’re getting into.”
Proctor, coming off a win in his professional debut, is a hard worker who excels both on the ground and standing, according to Pomfret. Though his professional record is 1-0, he fought a lot as an amateur, going 5-1. He’ll be taking on Will Seaver, who fights out of Southern New England MMA in Connecticut.
Collins, a newcomer to Lauzon MMA, will be fighting in his third amateur fight. He has a wrestling base and his hands have been “really coming along well,” said Pomfret. He’ll be taking on another experienced amateur fighter in Sam Elliot (3-1), who fights out of Boneyard in Taunton.
Story by Mark Daniels, Boston Herald.
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