Vic Torgibson and Todd Millen, founders or Courageous MMA Gym

Detroit Grit Lives At Downriver's Courageous Mixed Martial Arts Gym

Vic Torgibson and Todd Millen founders of Courageous MMA Gym.

In the early 70’s  Detroit’s Kronk gym was born in the basement of the Kronk recreation center. In the two decades that followed Kronk produced many of boxing great champions of the 70’s and 80’s. Kronk was about the team and about Detroit.  It was about Detroiters helping each other be better boxers, better men. The gym was shuttered after its founder, godfather of Detroit boxing, Emanuel Steward passed in late 2012. The hardworking grit and determination live on in an up and coming Mixed Martial Arts gym in Metro Detroit’s Downriver.

Much like Kronk,  cradle of boxing in Detroit, Courageous MMA Gym in Taylor, aims to put a Detroit stamp on the sport of  Mixed Martial Arts.

Courageous started with two men from different walks of life but with the same dream. To forward the sport they love, the right way.   With hard work, and a sense of family. The Detroit way

A pit bull puppy can be credited for starting Courageous. It was that puppy that brought Todd Millen and Vic Torgibson together. Todd Millen is a maintenance supervisor for a local property. Vic Torgibson is a Federal law enforcement officer charged with training his colleagues in defense tactics. At first the two shared a mutual respect for the Pit Bull breed.  After that, it was a mutual respect for Mixed Martial Arts that motivated them to open their own gym.

Clinton Smith and Mark Popard practice their glove work

We “wanted to see it done right” explained Millen during the gym’s charity car wash for St. Judes. “Most gyms are not pure MMA”. “they just try to get money by saying their MMA. We want to project a positive image of the sport.”

Vic Torgibson heads the training at the gym. “”We teach all three aspects of MMA here, stand and strike, grapple and ground” Torgibson said of the courageous training style. “Our coaches and trainers come here cause they love it (MMA)”

In every corner of Courageous you could see the passion for MMA. Guys training in Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, boxing, and kick boxing truely a mixed martial arts atmosphere. You get the sense that every fighter training there is on equal footing. Didn’t matter the style or size of the fighter. It didn’t matter how accomplished they were either. Every fighter there was willing to teach their craft and learn each others.

Daron Cruickshank, The “Detroit Superstar”, works hard to rep his city.

Metro Detroit’s most known MMA fighter was on hand as well to work with fighters and lend his name to a gym sponsored charity car wash. Daron Criuckhank appeared on Ultimate Fighter and has a current UFC contract. The Wayne, Michigan native and graduate of Olivet College chose to stay in Michigan and train. “A lot of guys in MMA move out to Vegas and other places to train. I chose to stay here in Michigan” Cruickshank  is serious about developing fighters out of Michigan. He travels to 3 different area gyms to train and work with fighters.  The “Detroit Superstar” ,as he is known in the UFC, is 12-3-0 and is considered one of the rising stars in the sport.

The trainers on hand were there because they want to  forward the sport. When asked why he taught at Courageous, Josh Johnson grappling trainer from Woodhaven said “For me it’s personal…I’ve played basketball, football but nothing works you out like MMA”. When asked how Michigan might influence MMA in the future Johnson responded, “(In Michigan) its still really raw, we need sanctioning…but we have the potential to produce a lot of quality athletes.”

Muay Thai trainer,  Barrett Levertte, put into words what was evident all over Courageous Gym. “Its Nothing but love here at Courageous… we take untrained fighters and help them become better individuals.”

Certainly a familiar cause for a sport that is more than just domination and submission but also about perseverance and achievement.

For more information on Courageous MMA gym visit their website at or call 734-642-8263


Tags: Detroit Sports Mixed Martial Arts

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