Image Courtesy of Aaron Lorber Photography
America loves to root for the underdog, there’s nothing better than watching an individual or team, who are given little to no chance of winning, rise up and conquer the heavy favorite. Most of the time the opponent is another team or individual, but in this case the adversary was much more dangerous.
Alchemist Management prospect Charles Rosa’s tale goes way beyond the typical triumph and tragedy story that we may have heard throughout the years. The 26-year-old Massachusetts native has not only conquered the adversity that he has faced, he has excelled because of it. His story is like a made for TV movie and offers those who feel like they can’t pick themselves up or go on any longer some hope. He made his professional debut back in August after a very successful run as an amateur, a run that found him as the top ranked amateur fighter in MMA.
Former UFC middleweight Charles McCarthy has become a coach, friend and mentor to Rosa. He has been there for each and every step of his amazing journey into the world of MMA. McCarthy is a partner at Alchemist Management and the owner of an American Top team affiliate in Boynton Beach, FL. The sky seems to be the limit for Rosa and when you combine his talent, dedication and all of the support he gets from some of the best coaches and training partners in the world, it’s not a stretch to believe that he will be a champion at some point in the future. To really understand Rosa’s story you have to listen to both Rosa and McCarthy explain it. From how the two met, Rosa’s first experience inside a gym and the sacrifice and dedication he has made to become the fighter he is today.
“Charles came to me a hockey player and he was having a hard time in life,” McCarthy told BJPenn.Com radio. “He was living down in Florida and attending drug rehabilitation, the area we live in is like the drug rehab capital of the world. I meet a lot of kids who come in to the gym because training is a great tool for them to invest their time and energy into. Training will help them come out better on the other end. Charles came in and trained harder and with more energy than any other human being I had ever seen in my whole life. The day he came into my gym he picked Cole Miller to spar with without having any prior training at all. We saw him go in and get knocked down a bunch of times and he kept coming back. He’s that type of kid, he wants to go in there with the best and you can’t break his spirit.
I’ve spent the last four and a half years trying to do that and it hasn’t happened. He’s a unique guy and no one has found his limits yet, he keeps pushing harder and faster than anyone else. In the morning he trains boxing with John David Jackson, then he goes over and trains BJJ with Ricardo Liborio. After that he’ll train with me at my gym or the Alchemist Training Center. He trains with the best fighters around, he seeks out the best partners and even though he’s just 1-0 as a pro his name is getting out there more than anyone I’ve ever seen at this stage of their career. He was one of the more decorated amateur MMA fighters in the history of the sport. No one knew who he was at first, but he earned his way to the top and has become the best training partner for the best guys in whatever gym he walks in to.”
The amount of pain and suffering Rosa has gone through goes much deeper than his problems with drugs. He has lost two people who he considered to be not only his best friends, but his idols as well. Rosa was headed down that same path of destruction before he was sent to Florida to get his life in order. Most people would’ve given up after losing one of the most important people in their life, let alone two. Yet Rosa picked up the pieces and decided he wanted to live and now he is poised at making a real impact and he’s using his position to help others. Instead of shying away from the pain he uses it to move forward and he’ll be the first one to tell you he wouldn’t be who is he today if he hadn’t gone through the experiences he has to endure.
“I am who I am because of what I have gone through, that is what makes me the person I am today,” said Rosa. “When I was 16 I lost my brother Vincent who was 20 at the time to an overdose. Then when I was 18 I lost my brother Dominick who also overdosed on drugs. You can imagine what it was like growing up in that type of environment and I had already started using before all that, but after they died I really started spiraling down the wrong path. I still made it through college and graduated from culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI. I got my degree, but I was still using and going at it, but I somehow managed to push through it. Eventually after college it got really bad and I couldn’t manage my life anymore.
I came to Florida and went to a treatment center and after four months they let me venture out on my own. They sent me out and said don’t come back until you have a job; luckily it was pretty easy because I have a culinary degree. They didn’t give me any money and all I had was a bicycle for about a year and a half. They just basically sent me out on my own. I knew from that point there was no way I could live life like a regular person and going to work at a regular job every day. I need an outlet in my life and I was asking people about boxing gyms because my father and my uncle were both amateur boxers and I was always interested in it. I asked someone on the bus one day and they told me about this place which was actually on my way to work. I used to ride my bike to work one day and one night I got out early and I rode past ATT in Boca Raton.
Chainsaw (McCarthy) was there along with Todd Duffee, Cole Miller and Micah Miller, I had no idea who any of these guys were. I didn’t know anything about MMA, I walked in and saw a bunch of people sparring and I knew I wanted to do it. I talked to Chainsaw and he told me to hop in the class, he gave me a pair of gloves and with about 15 minutes left in the class they said it was time for sparring. I couldn’t spar because I didn’t have a partner and I saw Cole hitting the bag so I asked him if he wanted to spar. The first time I asked him he said no and I thought he was being disrespectful, but he wound up saying yes and he kicked the shit out of me! I don’t know what it was, I got the shit kicked out of me by some tall, skinny kid and I didn’t know who he was.
I remember coming in the next day and Charles took me to the side and said you did really good last night and at first I thought he was being a sarcastic asshole! Then he told me the kid who kicked my ass was Cole Miller and that he was in the UFC. I remember looking him up and I must have watched every single one of his fights and from that second on I was hooked, nothing could stop me. I rode my bike to the gym every single minute I wasn’t working or doing my treatment stuff. It really saved my life and McCarthy was a huge part of that. I had some tough times, I didn’t even have a phone and Chainsaw told me I had to grow up so I went and got a phone that day. He’s really been like a role model, much more than a coach to me. They made me wait a year to fight and I got to the point where I’m at now by listening and putting my trust in Chainsaw.”
Look for part 2 later today.Tags: alchemist management, att, BJPennDotCom Radio, Charles McCarthy, charles rosa, cole miller, featured, micah miller, MMA NEWS, ricardo liborio, Todd Duffee