Interview with AKA's Amber Bishop
American Kombat Alliance is only a year old as a promotion, but it has quickly gained notice in the region. In just four shows, the promotion has developed a reputation for professionalism and putting on quality, competitive matchups. The promotor behind the show is Amber Bishop, and it is her vision that is the driving force for the evolution of the promotion. For Amber, this promotion represents a dream of hers, with the foundation built in her childhood;
“My mom and dad were black belts in martial arts. My father had several trained kickboxers he trained. We travelled all over with them since I was a little girl. He had numerous fighters and I fell in love with combat sports. When I went to my first kickboxing show I thought the guy doing the announcing was the guy that put the show on and I wanted to do that.”
Some time went by, but Amber still kept a love of combat sports with her. It was as a result of an opportunity that came up that American Kombat Alliance came about;
“There had been a promotion in the area for many years and eventually it lost momentum. Mr. Norris from the Boxing Commission reached out and said they were looking for a promoter and I stepped in. Several of my dad’s black belts had been involved with MMA, so I was familiar with the scene.”
In founding the promotion, Amber felt that it should embody integrity and the positive elements that martial arts can bring to people’s lives;
“One thing that my dad raised me to believe is that you treat people with the respect they deserve. Some of the shows around didn’t treat fighters and people involved that well. At AKA, fighters are number one, and we always treat them with respect. That’s something we are not going to lose.”
The inaugural event, Rite of Passage 1, occurred on 08.18.2017, and saw Kendrick Williams (4-3) stop Rocky Landry (2-6) in the main event. The Rite of Passage shows were held at the Horseshoe Riverdome in Bossier City, Louisiana;
“We just had our fourth show. At the first show we had 480 seats, the second show almost sold out and the 3rd and 4th shows sold out. The next show will be our first outside the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe is a 21 and over venue, this will be the first show for all ages. Earlier in the day we will have junior MMA. The doors open at 9am, and the tournament runs from 10-12. For the fights the door open at 6pm, and the fights start at 7pm.”
It is very unusual for a promotion to put on a youth event prior to a show, but it fits with the philosophy of building an interest in the sport and developing talent;
“The juniors will do one minute of standup and one minute on the ground, they’ll be wearing protective gear. Back when my dad had his school kids learned discipline and respect there. We are focused on anti-bullying, so as part of the event we will have two speakers and my pastor will also be there. Bullying is a big thing that needs tackling; this will be our next generation. It’s good to start them off in the cage that the older fighters use. We have some good gyms in the area and they have shown an interest in the event.”
AKA shows feature professional and amateur fighters, known in the sport as Pro-Am cards by some. Part of the philosophy of the promotion is to build fighters to move onto the professional ranks of the top tier promotions such as LFA, Bellator and the UFC;
“I don’t want to just put anyone on the card, they have to train and have heart. I take this seriously and I expect the fighters to as well. The guys we put on the show I know will train hard and fight hard. We’ve had compliments about the fighters on the cards. My dad was one on technique, that’s a big part of what I look for.”
Since the start of the promotion, for those unable to attend the shows, it has been possible to watch on the FloCombat site;
“The fighters like it; they’ve been great to work with over there. We had Greg Hardy on the second show (former NFL player) and it helps from an advertising standpoint. We have had four shows and seven title bouts. The first show there was one, and since we have had two title fights a card. At the next show on September the 1st there’ll be two amateur title fights.”
With a vested interest in the fighters and their development, talking to Amber you can see how involved she is with the process and her excitement over the talent the promotion has to offer;
“We had Derrick Krantz on Rite Of Passage 3. He’s a phenomenal athlete and is with Team 515 in Longview, TX. He’s one of my favorite fighters and deserves to be in the UFC. He’ll be on the October show at the Horseshoe where he’ll be the main event.
It’s been such a great experience building a bond with the fighters. You support them and even outside the event you have a relationship and they trust me. Another great fighter is Zach Albritton. He’s a little guy, a 115 lb fighter. Every time we book him, the other fighter backs out. He’s a phenomenal athlete and has a fight coming up on the 1st September. He’s a great kid, a local boy from Louisiana. He hasn’t got an easy fight though; he’s fighting Jesus Martinez from SFS in Texas. He’s going to test him; he’s also a great fighter.
Another good fighter is Michael Manno. He’s fighting for the amateur 170 lb title on September 1st. He’s 5-2. He works an 8-5 job training every day, and has a martial arts background. He trains out of Shreveport Martial Arts. He’s fighting a really good kid, Joseph Holmes (5-0) also from SFS. SFS are a really good team.
This next show is going to be crazy. I’ll be sitting cage side instead of walking around. We’ll see some great matchups and I’m anxious to watch this show.”
Another key part of the success of a promotion is having good sponsors, and AKA has managed to secure some great support;
“Mike Tilton from Tilton Plumbing stepped in, we have Johnsons Furniture, also Walk-On’s Bistro and Bar. We are having the weigh in on August 31st there at 5pm at the Shreveport location. Also Home Audio innovations, Adrenaline Fitness and the Horseshoe have all been great.”
The American Kombat Alliance aims to be a positive force, not just in the sport but in the community;
“One of the main reasons we are doing this is for kids. I have four children of my own; I want them to get involved in the sport. We want to support kids positively and build the MMA community. One thing that has really helped is that my husband stepped in when I told him this crazy dream I had. He helped me fulfill this dream I have, and I owe it all to him.
“We are looking to bridge into Arkansas and Texas and get promoter’s licenses there. Eventually we will be looking to do twelve shows a year and are hoping to get onto AXS TV.”