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South-end gym gets punch in the arm by adding new trainers

Barrie Sports Hall of Fame member Gary Goodridge and Donny Munce join Empire team to help mould next generation of fighters
Mixed martial arts fighter Gary Goodridge is part of a team training team at Empire Martial Arts and Fitness in south-end Barrier.

One of Barrie's most recognizable faces from the mixed martial arts (MMA) world is lending his wealth of experience and knowledge to a local gym.

Empire Martial Arts and Fitness, located in south-end Barrie at 100 Caplan Ave., has added veteran Gary Goodridge to its scheduled training classes.

With 14 years in the professional ranks of MMA, Goodridge has 100 fights on his resume in four different combat sports.

Having earned many championships in amateur Canadian boxing, UFC, Pride, and K-1, Goodridge says he's excited to be giving back.

“I’ve been all over the world and faced some of the toughest fighters on the planet, but this is what I am really enjoying now,” Goodridge tells BarrieToday. “Being able to help the next generation of fighters in this country is a great thing for me, and them.”

Goodridge says he wants to work at Empire not just because it's local, but for what it offers and the feeling he gets going there.

“It is an amazing place to train," says the Barrie Sports Hall of Fame inductee, who was enshrined in 2022. "Again, I have been all over the world and I can say that we have one of the best venues to train right here in our backyard." 

In addition to Goodridge, Empire owner Jason Blackwood is also sharing his knowledge of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has a black belt in competitive high-level judo. 

Goodridge says Blackwood’s “styles and techniques are second to none and he runs the gym with immaculate care and precision.”

One of the men Goodridge says he's also very proud to be working with, and someone he calls one of the top three coaches in kickboxing, is Donny Munce, who is also teaching at the Barrie facility.

Goodridge says Munce has a great ability to teach technically and accurately with only one leg after losing his right one to diabetes a year ago.

“He’s an inspiration to all those with a disability,” Goodridge says. 

Munce says he and Goodridge were about to go into business together until they saw Empire and joined up about a month ago.

“Gary and I really were heading towards our own place until we saw this," Munce says. "You honestly couldn’t build a better facility to train for all the forms of mixed martial arts.

"If you want to be a fighter, this is where to be.”

Munce says Empire has a lot to offer. 

“You can go to a regular gym and all you’re going to do is look around half the time,” he says. “Or you can come here, get in shape and learn something at the same time. It keeps your body moving and your mind moving.”

For more on Empire Martial Arts and Fitness and what they offer, head to the website by clicking here.