A 30 year journey (and counting), the Double Dragon story starts in the late 70’s when Mick Spinks first met Sifu Chan Cheuk Fai and was introduced to Jin Wu Koon Kung Fu style.
Fast forward to the present day and there’s a stack of trophies, world title belts, UFC contracts, numerous gyms, stamps in the passport and fights around the globe. Read on to see how Double Dragon evolved into the world class facility we have in Sutherland today.
While working in regional NSW as a mechanic on large earthmoving equipment, Mick first tried the sport of Karate as a way to pass the time. Instantly hooked, Mick quickly progressed through the ranks and earned his Karate black belt in 1976. Mick competed in the major Karate competitions of the time, but was disillusioned after being disqualified from a major competition for leg sweeping another competitor.
Enter Sifu Chan Cheuk Fai and Jin Wu Koon Kung Fu. Straight away Mick was humbled by the skill, discipline and refinement of this Kung Fu style, and so he retired his Karate black belt and started as a beginner in Jin Wu Koon Kung Fu under Sifu Chan.
The Martial Arts scene in the 1980’s was very different to what we see now. There were no UFC contracts or live-streamed international events, and really very little money to be made as a professional athlete. Nevertheless, there was a hardcore group of fighters who did it for the love of the sport and the thrill of the competition.
Mick was at the top of the scene in Australian kickboxing and kung fu, staying undefeated his entire career and defending his Australian title on numerous occasions before his retirement from competition in 1984.
Mick also won the World Kung Fu tournament in Malaysia in 1981 and fought Lumpinee Muay Thai champion Puyat Penchai in Hong Kong which ended in a draw between these two world class fighters.
Another notable appearance was two demo bouts with famous American kickboxing world champion (and movie choreographer) Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez.
In the early 80’s Mick opened his first gym: Double Dragon Kingsford. Known affectionately as ‘the cave’ for the lack of windows, this place was for hardcore training and would go on to breed a long list of kickboxing and MMA champions.
As fight sports grew through the 80’s and 90’s, Double Dragon was one of the premium fight gyms in Australia with an elite team of fighters training under head coach Mick Spinks. The guys would fight anywhere, anytime and if there were no competitions the guys would take to boxing tournaments to stay sharp and gain experience.
In the mid 90’s a 16 year old kid named Ian Schaffa walked into the gym with plenty of attitude and even more talent. Ian went on to become one of Australia’s top professional fighters in kickboxing, boxing and MMA, building a huge fan base in Japan and competing against some of the world’s top fighters in K-1, Sengoku, Shootboxing and MMA.
Grant ‘Bomber’ Barker became one of Australia’s most exciting kickboxers, having over 60 fights and winning the World WKA Cruiserweight title. Grant also defended his Heavyweight Commonwealth title 14 times against all comers from Australia, Canada, England & New Zealand. Grant’s career took him and Mick all over the globe, fighting K-1 legend Peter Aerts in Japan and Vitali Klitschko in Russia.
Peter ‘Ironbark’ Blumson was a quiet achiever from Byron Bay who won Australian professional titles in Light heavyweight and Cruiserweight. He beat the world renowned Adam Watt and won 4 fights in the USA when he headed over to do some fight prep with Dennis Alexio.
Will Soulos, still coaches at Double Dragon and in his heyday was Australian middleweight Kickboxing & Kung Fu champion as well as winning the Golden Gloves boxing title.
The list goes on with names like Ricky Chivers, Jim Savage, Bas Koutsikous, Ali Atoui, Stuart Coulson, Mark Russell, plus so many other state and national champions and fighters who were part of the initial foundation of Double Dragon Martial Arts Gym
In the late 90’s Mick and his family relocated to the Sutherland Shire in Southern Sydney (near Cronulla). Briefly Mick started teaching kickboxing classes at the Sutherland PCYC, but with a large demand for a quality Martial Arts Gym in the Sutherland Shire, Mick was keen to find a permanent home for Double Dragon where he could grow the gym into a world class training facility. That brings us to the current location: 55 East Parade Sutherland.
Double Dragon’s unique breed of training was an instant hit and before long we had another strong team of fighters competing out of the Sutherland gym. State and National champions started to stack up and once again Double Dragon established itself as one of the best gyms in the country. Names like Cameron Johnston, Ian Schaffa, Mark Fenwick, Glen Middleton, Tim Newton, Haden Frankenfield and Jaden Dempsey were splashed over fight posters and more often than not the fight team would enter a battle and end up with their hand raised.
The word was out in the Shire and beginner Kickboxing, Dragon Fist Freestyle, Kung Fu and BJJ classes started to fill up with keen guys and girls looking to get fit and learn from the best. Another group of younger champs emerged and we saw names like Craig Ruddiman, Shane Greenwood, Rowan Sangster, Heath McManus, Nick Black, Chris & Ben Chan, Christine Hawkins and Mikaila Derome making a name for themselves on the kickboxing scene.
Throughout the previous ten or so years, Mick had also been leading a personal quest to master Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. BJJ, a relatively new martial art, was completely different to any of the other styles Mick had ever seen and he became utterly addicted. Initially doing seminars with the highly regarded John Will from Melbourne, Mick eventually met Brazilian Black Belts Alex Prates and Bernardo ‘Trekko’ Magalhaes and started trading stand up coaching for BJJ lessons from these two amazing BJJ artists.
Around this time MMA was booming and the Double Dragon fight team boasted some of Australia’s top MMA fighters alongside our kickboxers. The team would fight on shows all over the country, including Proud Warrior Productions, CFC, Warriors Realm and Xplosion. Trekko was unbeatable at this stage and managed to take the CFC title which would lead to a massive opportunity on the world stage: the UFC. Mick and Trekko would visit the U.S. twice to fight for the UFC, the world's largest MMA promotion.
With MMA here to stay, Mick and the team were constantly learning about modern developments in sports science and nutrition, which would give the fighters a leg up and make weight cutting easier. It would be extremely difficult for any fighter to compete at an elite level without any strength and conditioning, so Mick brought strength coach Shannon Green on board to run his Warrior Performance studio out of the gym. Shannon would take Shane Greenwood under his wing and mentor him into an impressive strongman athlete and highly regarded strength coach.
It’s hard to ignore the benefits of proper strength training, and for that reason Double Dragon has slowly built an impressive weights room and now employs several personal trainers. We also use these developments to tweak fitness routines and get the most out of everyone who trains at Double Dragon.
The gym has come a long way from it’s beginnings, and we now boast a modern facility with everything a martial arts or fitness enthusiast could want. We cater for all skill levels, though we now have a big focus on helping beginners gain confidence and improve their quality of life through health and fitness.