WMMA Manager Profile – Mike Chu

In an effort to help fighters get to know reputable managers in the business, Wombat Sports will be doing profiles in the next couple weeks. 

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Having worked with some top talent fighting in Strikeforce, Mike Chu is the head of the Havok Fight Team. He helped a young Miesha Tate land a deal with Strikeforce, and has his own female fitness based team out of Sacramento, CA. He also helps train some up and coming fighters.

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Wombat Sports: Can you tell us a little about yourself? How long you have been a manager, background in the business, some of your clients, ect…..

Mike Chu: I have been a practitioner of martial arts for over 12 yrs and mixed martial arts for just under 9 yrs.  I am an AFPA Certified Personal Trainer, I have a technical background in commercial printing and printing inks, right around 15 yrs, I trained with friends and bounced around at a few gyms, until we decided to start small out of my garage and then set up shop 5 yrs ago in the facility I currently own and run, HAVUK Fit 2 Fight Training Center in Sacramento, CA.

I have over the last 7 years been a booking agent and managed a few fighters.  I managed Dave Gardner(K-1, M-1 and Dream veteran), currently manage/booking agent for Fernando Gonzalez( Strikeforce and WEC veteran), Kiko Lopez(Dream/K-1 veteran), Ruben “Warpath” Villarreal (Strikeforce, Cage Wars, K-1 veteran and current KOTC and Art of War HWT Superfight Champion), recently retired female veteran, Avery Vilche,

I have worked with UFC veterans Vinny Magalhaes and Jake Ellenberger, I brought Miesha Tate to Strikeforce, and I current roster of fighters that are working on making their way up the ladder of the MMA world.  I have also worked with Sam Wilson for about 7-8 yrs and have worked with Shannon Knapp when she was employed by Strikeforce.  My business background has come from trial and error and deep conversations and note taking with managers of high profile fighters.

Wombat: What, in your opinion, does a manger do?

Chu: I believe a manager’s job is to do what’s best for his or her fighter(s).  The fighter is placing their trust in you, along with their lives and means of making a living for themselves and their families.  For the fighters that I manage, I always check on their health, training camps, weight, sponsors(they also look for sponsors themselves), handle contracts and negotiate purses, per diems, medicals, licensing, travel and lodging, try to keep them focused and make sure that their family obligations are good and strong, basically a huge impact for me was the movie, “Jerry Macguire”.  Less clients, less, but fair compensation, work hard for you people, treat them like family.

W.S.: What are three qualities you like to see in a potential client?

M.C.: Professionalism, honesty  and hardworking

W.S.:  What are three qualities you feel make a great manager?

M.C.: The exact same answers as above.

W.S.: Many fighters have stated that they have bad experiences with managers and have simply done a lot of the duties of a manager themselves. Why should they reconsider getting manager?  

M.C.: I understand completely, in the end, without proper knowledge or resources, a fighter will be taken advantage of by promoters as well as by poor management.  I used to work with roughly 75 fighters, spreading oneself too thin normally ends up with what some fighters do it on their own.  The manager becomes too greedy by taking on too many clients and cannot follow through with what he promised.

On the other hand, fighters also have breached their contracts with management and booking agents as well.  It’s sad, but it happens on both sides.  I recommend that both parties do their homework and if at all possible ask for character references from respected people in the mma  world of mma.

W.S.: Female fighters in general have more demands than males. What specifically qualifies you to manager female fighters?

M.C.: I train female fighters and have managed one for the last 4 yrs. What qualifies me are my work ethics, communication skills, honesty, pro WMMA, always have been, I manage my daughter(muay thai fighter), I don’t make promises that I cannot or do not intend to keep just to get a client, and so far, I have worked with male fighters that are quite the divas themselves.  The ladies may have more demands, what difference does it make?  It is our job as their managers to get the job done to the best of our capabilities and to make our fighters that we represent happy.

W.S.: What is your ethical responsibilities as a manger? Are you willing to put it in writing? Treat your clients like family, it is our duty as managers to protect our clients.  

M.C.: NO SEXUAL HARASSMENT!!!!! Professionalism, friendship, mutual trust, I am a family man, period, respect the boundaries!!!! Put it in writing?  Of course I would, if there’s nothing to hide, then there’s nothing to worry about or to get caught doing something wrong.  I do not have time for games, this is a professional business first and family!!!! It can be considered insulting for some of us, but I understand that it is necessary to protect all parties involved legally.

W.S.: What are your expectations in a client?

M.C.: Be professional, honest, have excellent work ethics, a lot of heart, loyal and to be personable.

W.S.: What is your philosophy when it comes to how many clients you have?

M.C.: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  That is the whole point of getting to know your clients and them getting to know me.

W.S.: Is there anything you want to add?

M.C.: I hope that after all of the recent findings and allegations settle, that these fighters know and have faith that there are good managers out there and to not lose hope.  I wish them all the best in their careers and that I am available to help them out if it is within my power.

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