What’s good fight fans? Today I got to sit down with American Top Team prospect Kayla Hracho. Kayla is 3-0 in her amateur career and is getting ready to hit the pro scene. With a great training team and support system behind her, she is ready to make a splash. Let’s sit down and see what her journey was like to get to where she is today.
Kayla grew up in a great family surrounding. She was always an athlete and a tomboy. She was the scrappy girl at the park playing with the boys. Throughout high school, she did lack direction and motivation. She was big on partying and having fun. She moved on to college where she played on the Rugby team. Unfortunately for her, she did fail out her first year. She knew that she always wanted more for herself and to create a better life but like many young adults, she did not know how to get it or find the correct path. She always felt like she disappointed herself and her family being a “screw up.” Eventually, she did graduate college. It was very difficult for her but equally rewarding. She was forced to buckle down and accomplish her goal which made her proud of herself.
With a psychology degree in hand, she entered the world on the right track. She moved to New Hampshire to take on a job with a residential treatment program for children with mental and behavioral disorders. She began her career working with kids who suffered from disabilities from minor learning issues to major behavioral problems. It was exciting to have a good job and be supporting herself. She was there for two months and made a minor mistake which could have been avoided that did cost her the job she worked so hard for. She felt like her life was over. She was an independent working adult in the community and had lost her path once again. She moved back to Pennsylvania to live with her parents with little money and no job to rectify that problem.
She needed to blow off some steam after the events that took place, so she would drive from gym to gym taking advantage of free day passes. She has gone to six different gyms in a week. The last gym she went to was a boxing gym. She doesn’t remember how it all happened but she became obsessed. She loved the mental and physical challenges that it offered. While she has always been an athlete she quickly realized that combat sports showed her how weak she was mentally. She decided that she owed it to herself to see this through. It would be the first thing she decided to do to please herself and not others. She wanted to prove to herself that she was capable of overcoming adversity. If she could do this she could do anything. She is a natural hard worker and loved the grind. They were very tough on her in the beginning. They would make her spar with a girl that would trash talk her and had ten years experience. She would leave the ring broken both mentally and physically. After every session, she would cry in her car but showed up ready to work the next day.
She took her first boxing match after two months of training and got embarrassed. She was falling over herself and took a beating. She went back to the drawing board which was difficult while balancing a full-time job at a treatment center for kids. With all this going on she still wanted to train with the best. She traveled an hour to train with who she was told was the best. She was looking for a home to get to the next level in her training when tragedy struck. Prichard Colon was a good friend of hers who was 16-0 as a pro boxer. She would talk with him about everything because he understood the struggle. She attended his fight in Virginia where he took several blows to the back of the head. Immediately after the fight her friend and mentor fell into a coma. She felt even more lost and suffered from depression. She felt like the dream she was chasing was a dead end. Every bump she hit in the road made her start over from square one.
She then saved some money and decided that she would move to New York to train with a highly respected trainer in the Bronx, Marco Suarez. She was four days away from making the move to the big city and something incredible happened. She was in New Jersey training at It’s On Boxing and her coach posted videos of her doing pad work. Din Thomas, UFC pioneer, co-star of Dana White’s Looking For A Fight, and current UFC champions Tyron Woodley and Amanda Nunes happened to come across her pad work video and liked what he watched. Kayla was very aware of who Din was and that he represented the mecca of martial arts, jumped on the opportunity despite her lack of MMA experience. She was also very aware of the fighters at American Top Team and her friend told her that she should respond to the comment. She messaged Din and sold herself. She explained her boxing experience and her dedication. After a few messages, he invited her to come to American Top Team and visit which she did two weeks later.
The first thing she did was spar with one of the smaller guys that were at the gym. She felt like it was a tryout and she needed to impress. In her mind, she did well and shortly they had her try the pro wrestling and pro jiu-jitsu class just to see how she moved and reacted. After four days of training, she had to make a decision. Go to New York and pursue boxing or stay in Florida and take on a different sport. Without hesitation, she decided Florida would be the best choice for her. Sher was surrounded by greatness and wanted to learn. She became training partners with many of the pro fighters and was the main sparring partner of Joanna Jedrzejczyk leading up to her fight with Jessica Andrade. She is one of the only amateur fighters that trains with the pro team. Now she has the best team, coaches, and training partners she could have wished for.
Currently, she is undefeated her in her career (3-0) and holds the Louisiana State Championship for MMA. She is also in an international tournament in the UCC. She won her fight in Panama City, Panama against an opponent from Venezuela. On October 14, 2017, she will be facing an opponent from Costa Rica. Kayla said, “When I am done beating her I will be fighting for the Grand Prix championship.” After the tournament, she will most likely be making her professional debut.
Through her journey, she has had friends, family, and former coaches tell her she was crazy. They thought that she was going down the wrong path, but she decided to chase after her dream. She is now staying with a teammate and working full-time on the weekends only so she can train full-time during the week. The moral of her story is to never give up, chase your dreams, and do what makes you happy. As long as you never give up it’s never over.
Kayla added one other message:
I have to thank Kayla for her time. It was a great conversation with a talented young fighter. I look forward to seeing what Kayla has for the world of MMA in the future. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA