MMA stars in Superior for charity event

A number of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters will be in Superior this Saturday as part of an MMA charity event organized by University of Wisconsin-Superior martial arts instructor Robert Mrotek. "Seminar of Champions 4" will run from noon to 7 p.m.

A number of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters will be in Superior this Saturday as part of an MMA charity event organized by University of Wisconsin-Superior martial arts instructor Robert Mrotek. "Seminar of Champions 4" will run from noon to 7 p.m. in the Superior High School gymnasium with five UFC stars conducting training sessions.

Each session will last for one hour with the first session, run by Brock Larson, beginning at noon. Former UFC champion Dave "Warrior" Menne will conduct a session beginning at 1 p.m., and at 2 p.m. Hermes Franca will teach a session. Shonie "Mr. International" Carter, from the Ultimate Fighter TV show, will run a session at 3 p.m., and Jeff "Snowman" Monson will hold two sessions, beginning at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monson won the Abu Dhabi Submission Grappling World Tournament Heavy Weight Division in 2005 in Turkey.

The cost of the event is $55 for those wishing to learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling techniques first-hand from the instructors. Those choosing to participate should wear shorts or sweatpants and a T-shirt. Spectators are also welcome to meet and get autographs from the UFC stars, with the cost for spectators set at $8. All proceeds from the seminar will go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In addition, over twenty MMA companies have donated fight equipment and apparel for a silent auction to be held Saturday.

This is the fourth MMA seminar Mrotek has held to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, but it is the first to take place in Superior. Mrotek said he hopes to hold an event in Superior every year.

"This is my home now and I love it here," Mrotek said of Superior. "I'm looking to put Superior on the map. There's so much beautiful stuff in this town that no one ever hears about."


All of the instructors volunteer their time and pay their own airfare to come to the event, while the martial arts club at UWS pays for food and lodging.

Mrotek said this year's event promises to be the biggest yet, estimating at least 150 people will show up for the seminar. The key to the success of the event is the willingness of the MMA stars to come to Superior. Monson, who earned his masters degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, had been planning to visit with his parents and so agreed to take part in the seminar. Two other instructors were coaches of some of Mrotek's students this year, and the others Mrotek knew from his earlier charity work and MMA fights.

"It's going to be a pretty nice event and should raise a lot of money," Mrotek said.

Mrotek was inspired to begin the charity seminars by an event from his early childhood. When he was five years old, Mrotek befriended an eight-year-old neighbor, Kristy. The young girl, who lived alone with her father, was battling leukemia. And although her father worked two jobs, money was still not available to get Kristy the treatment she needed.

"There was pretty much no place in Wisconsin where she could go," Mrotek said.

Luckily, the young girl was accepted into St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. There, the costs of Kristy's medical treatment, transportation and lodging were all covered. Doctors gave Kristy six months to live, but she fought her cancer for three years. She was 11 years old when she died.

Mrotek, who was eight years old at the time of Kristy's death, was just beginning to learn martial arts. The death of his friend and martial arts have been associated in his mind ever since.

"I remember my mother telling me shortly after I joined the martial arts, 'There are many people in the world that aren't as fortunate or as lucky as you are. You have asthma, but you are very healthy. Use your talents to benefit the good of others.' Ever since then I have done my best as a coach, a mentor, an instructor and as a fundraiser for St. Jude's and other worthy causes."


When he was eight, Mrotek began raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on a small scale. He held his first Seminar of Champions event with his brother in 2005 and raised about $1,800 for charity.

"I thought it would be a positive way to help many people," Mrotek said of the seminars. "It would be a good way to raise money for a worthy cause, a good way for people to get training from some of the best in the world and a good way for the sport of MMA (ultimate fighting, UFC) to be in a positive light to show people that we as fighters are more than just two men who fight in a cage. We are human beings with hearts, emotions and feelings wanting to make a difference in the world."

For further information about Saturday's event, contact Robert Mrotek at 920-475-7022 (e-mail ) or Bill Gedde at 715-392-3706.

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