Team Paul Mitchell is the longest running sport karate team in history and has been a staple of the sport for over 27 years. With an eye on international events, Team Paul Mitchell is working on rebuilding its fighting presence in the sport. This movement is evidenced by two recent additions to the team.
The team continues to boast top players but injuries and attrition have thinned the herd. Veteran Mike Pombiero continues to fight for the team – but only sporadically as he also has the responsibility of family and a martial arts school. Cass Sigmon is working on recovery from a 2013 knee injury.
In 2012, the team made a bold move by picking up Zsolt Moradi and Laszlo Gombos from Hungary. The two Hungarians join Florida’s Justin Ortiz to make a strong and currently active three-man team. However, the team was lacking in depth and had no female representative. With a goal of expanding to more international competition, a female fighter is essential as some of the team sparring rules require a female fighter on the team.
Team Paul Mitchell fighting coach Damon Gilbert recently announced the addition of fighter Gina Thornton to the team. Thornton, from Virginia, has been competing since a junior in many circuits. For the past two years, she has been showing consistent success with more noticeable performances, especially in 2014.
She was the grand champion winner at the SportMartialArts.com 2014 Full Coverage events Quebec Open and Grand Slam Open. She was also either runner up or in the semi-finals of nearly every other event she competed at in 2014. “I love her spirit and how professional she is,” stated Coach Gilbert. “I knew that if I gave her this opportunity, she would appreciate it more than any other female fighter that I was presently scouting.”
When asked about the second new addition, 18-year-old Kameren Dawson of Maryland, Coach Gilbert called his new philosophy a “youth movement”. “If I can help develop him, I will get way more years of service out of him than I would someone in their late twenties.” Dawson, the son of former Paul Mitchell team member, Gerald Dawson, blasted onto the scene in 2014. He won his first major overall grand championship at the Kumite Classic in May, 2014. His enthusiasm and drive is infectious and the hope is that he will be one of the building blocks of the new Team Paul Mitchell. “When I’m done, our team will have a healthy blend of young lions and veteran superstars wearing the black and white,” noted Coach Gilbert.
The team will be participating in many of the Open World Tour events with a goal of having a strong presence both on the domestic and foreign fronts. “By no means am I done,” stated Coach Gilbert. “I am just waiting for the right martial artist to get my attention.