It’s been confirmed from the man himself. Davey Richards plans on retiring from professional wrestling next year.
MMA-Insider had a chance to catch up with Richards after main eventing for NWA Smoky Mountain Thursday night in Mount Carmel, Tenn. During that interview, the former Ring Of Honor World Champion said he would end his professional wrestling career in August of 2013.
“There’s a reason I turned down (WWE) developmental and I turned down TNA,” Richards told MMA-Insider. “I never had aspirations to be like a superstar or to make a ton of money at this.”
Richards said he actually spends more of his time these days training in martial arts. While taking wrestling bookings with his trainer Tony Kozina and protégé Kyle O’Reilly—a trio self-dubbed as “Team Ambition”—they train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu five days a week.
“We’re not here to be over or to be superstars. We’re here to be better. We’re here to be the best,” Richards said. “It’s a competition. If he (O’Reilly) doesn’t have the best match, I want to have the best match. If he (Kozina) doesn’t have the best match, I want to have the best match.
“I have a set of goals. I accomplished my goals. I feel like I’m the best wrestler I’m going to be. I can honestly say I have more interest, at this point and time, in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. So I really want to put my time and energy into that. I have another career lined up that I’m putting my time and energy into. For me, I’m not giving any less than 100 percent. It’s time to move on.”
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“I’d absolutely love to. Unfortunately I’m going to another job where physical fitness is extremely important, but I think it would be OK. So I’d love to,” Richards said.
Richards definitely has the background in jiu-jitsu to hold his own inside the cage. He began training regularly in jiu-jitsu in 2009 under Keith Brock at Absolute Martial Arts in the St. Louis area.
“I wrestled since I was 10. I would’ve went into mixed martial arts initially, but it wasn’t popular then. I’m from a really small town in the middle of nowhere so we didn’t have schools, obviously,” said Richards, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. “I like professional wrestling but I still had the fire to compete. So it’s very hard for me to have someone else dictate the finish of my matches, simply because to me, it’s always gonna be ‘Well, who worked harder for this?’ And that doesn’t so much matter in pro wrestling. So I found a school in Saint Louis called Absolute Martial Arts where Tony still trains today with a black belt named Keith Brock.”
Richards and O’Reilly now call another St. Louis gym home—Finney’s Martial Arts, under black belt Ezra Lenon. Richards said he had a blue belt at Absolute Martial Arts but that he gave it back when he changed schools.
“We go to other schools … and we dominate their blue belts,” Richards said. “Our school, thank you Ezra, is extremely tough.”
Richards, O’Reilly and Kozina all have competed in NAGA tournaments in addition to their hectic schedules traveling to professional wrestling events. Richards said he “fell in love with competing. … It’s a daily test, know what I mean? Steel sharpens steel.
“Me personally, what jiu-jitsu breeds is mental toughness,” Richards added. “That’s what a lot of people lack. And I don’t want to break kayfabe and talk about things in wrestling and how they’re easier, but let’s say that, sometimes people are going to let up on you when you ask and sometimes they’re not. And in jiu-jitsu, they’re damn sure not. Especially our school. Our school is very, extremely strict. Extremely disciplinary. … it builds a toughness, a callousness that I think is sorely lacking in professional wrestling today.”
The members of Team Ambition don’t let their travel schedule disrupt their training. Richards said they try to find a jiu-jitsu or MMA school in every town they visit as part of travels on the professional wrestling circuit. The method works for them, even though it’s apparently not well received by the other pro wrestlers they encounter in locker rooms.
“Every single town we go to, we find an MMA school. And there’s a lot of guys on these shows, and not one time has someone asked, ‘Hey, can we come train with you guys?’ Not once ever,” O’Reilly said.
“My personal opinion, people take advantage of professional wrestling,” he said. “Because the fact is, in professional wrestling, if you can’t keep up then it’s my job to carry you. Where, that is not the way it should be. That’s why I went to Japan for so long. Their mentality is more like my mentality which is more like a real sport philosophy: if you can’t keep up, I’m going to smash you.”
Richards and O’Reilly are both part of the regular Ring Of Honor roster. Both also are scheduled to return to NWA Smoky Mountain, along with Kozina, at a later date this year.
Cyrus Fees, the co-host of the hit MMA: Inside The Cage television show, also interviewed the members of Team Ambition. You can check that out on an upcoming episode.
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