By R. Alan Richardson
What would you think about a 10-year old who is already a national and international champion at his chosen sport? Well, that’s what Thrasher Wilkins is. His school, Westminster, in Watkinsville offers an opportunity for many sports like basketball, soccer, and baseball, but to participate in his sport he has to travel to Athens and SBG. According to their website, The Straight Blast Gym is a worldwide organization with over 50 locations around the world and on every continent. They have produced multiple UFC fighters including Conor McGregor and teach functional martial arts, combat sports, law enforcement, military hand-to-hand, and self-defense. Thrasher gets his training there through jiu-jitsu, judo, and boxing/kickboxing classes year-round.
This young man got started at about three when his parents told him about the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) on television. They are avid fans of the sport and that’s when he decided to give it a try. MMA involves boxing, kickboxing, judo, wrestling, and a host of other disciplines. Thrasher said, “I want to do MMA when I grow up. You have to be serious about it, but a lot of kids aren’t.” Dudley Spence is one of the men/coaches he looks up to and who lives nearby. Spence was an all-state wrestler and football player at MCHS and at Valdosta State. He graduated to the MMA after that and has a world of knowledge to share with his young apprentice. Last week the budding star went to wrestling camp with Coach Jeff Bedard from Rhinehart College and said he enjoyed it. To be an MMA fighter you have to be well-rounded.
Thrasher has entered several different national and international events over the past few years. His accomplishments speak volumes about his talent in jujitsu. Among those events were the JJSU Tournaments in California (twice), Chicago, and Las Vegas. He placed gold in three of the four and silver in the other. His father, Luke Wilkins, of Morgan County High School fame in football and baseball told us, “There was an asterisk by the silver because he had to wrestle up into a higher weight and age (12) class to compete. He beat everyone until the finals.” These tournaments can draw up to 10,000 competitors and are held at venues like Long Beach State University in California. This young man has bested most of his fighters boasting a record of 108-6 for his short career.
His mother, Emily Thrasher said, “Thrasher is an incredible boy. I know that we are quite biased but truly everyone that takes the time to get to know him all say that he is a good, polite, and very considerate young man. His teachers at school all say that he is a born leader and that he treats everyone equally the same. His hard work shows on and off the mat. He is an honor roll student and this year he met his own personal goal of making Principal’s honor roll. He has attended the SBG Athens gym since he was three years old and currently trains there five to six days a week learning the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His coaches Rory Singer, Lucas Federico, and Dudley Spence not only teach him Jiu-Jitsu but they also teach him life skills that help shape a responsible and respectful young man. He has monthly life skills work that he has to complete along with volunteering for community service projects. BJJ has not only taught Thrasher how to defend himself and compete at a competitive level but it also taught him self-discipline, respect for others, and given him self-confidence.”
During the interview with Thrasher it seemed that his mother was right on point. Once he got started talking about jiu-jitsu, you could see the light go on in his eyes and tell how proud he was of all the hard work and dedication it takes to be a superstar at what he loves. Everyone that has met him would agree with Mrs. Thrasher that, even though he was somewhat quiet, he was obviously respectful in every way. That’s partly due to his training, but mostly to being raised by great parents.
We wish Thrasher the best and we will be keeping an eye on his progress. Good luck.