Following on from part 1, Cwmbran KO king Gary ‘The Rocket’ Lockett offers further insight into his work as a striking coach to Jack Shore and evaluates the role MMA might play in his future:
MMA UK: How did your association with Jack Shore come about?
GL: The Shores approached me. They came down, they knew what I was doing with Lewis (Long). When Lewis fought Mark Glover (8-4-1), he looked like a pro boxer on his feet and, when he said he’d been working with me, I think that impressed a lot of people. I think that’s mainly why they approached me. That was 4-5 years ago. From the first session, me and Jack hit it off.
MMA UK: What qualities were you immediately impressed with by Jack when you started training him? Was it starting from square one?
GL: No, I think Jack was a novice boxing champion anyway. He was in Cwmcarn Amateur Boxing Club with Gary Butcher. He knew the basics so he had a good head start. I was impressed with his overall attitude. I get on with Jack like a house on fire – we’ve got very similar personalities – we laugh at the same things and take the piss in the same way. He’s a very good overall fighter, isn’t he? He’s strong in every aspect. With the boxing, he could train and pad people himself. His training with me is mainly keeping him on the straight and narrow, keeping that train on the tracks. He won’t come to me for three or four weeks and suddenly his hands and feet might start to get sloppy. I just tighten him up and keep him on schedule.
MMA UK: I didn’t see you Shore’s last fight on Fight Island. Could you not make it?
GL: I didn’t go to Abu Dhabi, Initially, I was supposed to go but when Jack called me on the Monday and said: “Are you gonna be ok for the weekend?” I assumed it was the weekend after. However, he told me that with all the COVID tests and stuff it would mean I’d have to go away for ten or eleven days and, to be honest, I can’t afford to be away for ten or eleven days. If it was five or six then, at a push, I would’ve done that but Jack understands family comes first. I don’t really wanna be away from the family for ten days when I don’t really have to be.
If it’s a boxer fighting for a world title then, of course. If Jack was fighting for a UFC title and I had plenty of notice then I’d probably do that but, on short notice like that, it was something I couldn’t do. Plus, I had (boxer) Nathan Thorley in a Commonwealth title fight and I would’ve had to leave the boys and sacrifice their camps just to go with Jack. As much as I would’ve loved to have gone, it wasn’t feasible.
MMA UK: Jack’s mentioned before how you’ve brought him in to spar the likes of 2012 Olympic Silver Medallist, Fred Evans. How does the calibre of boxing in these MMA boys hold up to the skills of the other boxers in the gym?
GL: I don’t wanna pay anybody any negatives but you’ve got to understand that these are two completely different sports. How can I put it? If you put Fred in an octagon with Jack there’s no contest. And vice-verse. The specialist always prevails. But what I will say is that Jack is good enough to compete (at a lower level). Besides, they’re not going out there to kill one another. They’re there to learn. It works really well.
MMA UK: When you trained Gavin Rees to British and European titles you mentioned how it garnered you almost instant respect as a boxing coach. What has training Jack Shore towards a Cage Warriors Bantamweight Title and now the UFC done for your credibility in the MMA spheres?
GL: I’m just a very small part of Jack’s team. The bulk of Jack’s training is done with his dad (Richard Shore). I can’t take any credit at all really. If Jack said to me “I think you’ve helped with that” then that’s great. But I can’t take any credit.
MMA UK: Do you crave acknowledgement from the MMA world though?
GL: This is the difference between myself and a lot of the better coaches. I think quite a few of these coaches now have got egos. For me, it’s all about the fighter. If I get a little bit of respect or a little bit of praise out of it then that’s brilliant, but it really doesn’t bother me. The only reason I do interviews is because I’m polite and I like to help people.
MMA UK: You’ve headlined a bill in America. You’ve fought in stadiums. How much wisdom do you think you’ll be able to impart to these young MMA fighters when the big occasion arises?
GL: Good question. I think a very small part because they often say about coaches that if you haven’t done it yourself you can’t coach. I don’t believe that but I think it certainly helps. If you’ve been in a very volatile position, which I have, not just as a fighter – all those (Kelly) Pavlik fans wanted to kill me, were spitting on me and everything – but the same happened when Jay Harris made his world (flyweight) challenge in Texas, they wanted to kill him!
But it’s nice to have been in the position. Maybe if Jack’s ever is in a position where he feels a bit overawed, not that that’s gonna happen because he’s not the type, but if he was then maybe I can offer some solace. But I don’t think there’ll ever be a position with Jack where he feels he’s overwrought. He’s too self-assured.
MMA UK: How much do you see MMA factoring in your future?
GL: I train a few of the guys. Oban (Elliot) is very good. He’s got a great attitude. Lewis Long needs that little bit of luck, he’s had quite a bit of bad luck. He just needs things to go his way. He’s getting on a little bit now (aged 31) but there’s a couple of things he’s doing now which he wasn’t doing 5-6 years ago. He’s a late developer but he’s listening and he trains his balls off. I’ve said to him before how he needs to listen to his body. There’s no point going to three sessions a day when you’re absolutely bollocked, you’re better off taking two or three days off and starting again fresh. I think he’s started to take things like that into account now.
I’ve started training Aaron Khalid as well, there’s a host of others too. But in Lewis, Jack and Oban, they’re in good positions with Jack being in the UFC, Lewis in Bellator and Oban coming through the ranks at Cage Warriors. I don’t really know, I’m happy working with those three. As long as I get on with the fighter, as long as they’re nice people and show respect then great! If they come in and they’re arseholes then they won’t come again.