Fighting His Way To MMA Pro Ranks

Andrew Artemou, right, poses with his trainer, Neil Gonzales, center, and Anthony Wolter, left, an assistant coach at East Coast MMA in Hicksville. Artemou had just won a match at the Javits Center on December 12. Wolter will also get into the ring on Feb. 27 at Queens Theatre for a match, fighting in the Aggressive Combat Championships.

Hicksville’s Artemou finds success in the ring

Andrew “Drew” Artemou is an aspiring New York City police officer with a sideline as a kickboxer with the ultimate aim of becoming a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. He is currently undefeated in the ring, with a 3-0 record in the amateur division.

Artemou, 25, began training at age 7 at one of the area Tiger Schulmann’s MMA facilities. He was joined by brother, Paul.

“Paul and I are very competitive… we are very physical. Mixed martial arts is very appealing to us and we love the sport,” said Artemou, who earned his karate black belt in 2000, after seven years of training.

After graduating from the University at Albany, he came back home and joined East Coast MMA and Fitness in Hicksville to train for his first amateur fight. Artemou decided to take on MMA, he related, because “I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I can do that and overcome myself under pressure… I think that’s a skill that’s important to have.”

Artemou honed his skills under the facility’s head trainer, Neil Gonzales, 35, of Hicksville. He focused on kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Gonzales is the only instructor in the gym who spars with Artemou, shaping his fighting techniques, and guiding him toward the right matchups.

“He gets into it with me. He is working out with me. And he is just amazing to have as a teacher,” said Artemou.

Andrew Artemou exults after beating Kenneth Rayside at the Queens Theatre on October 3.

Soon Artemou was ready for his first fight, held at the Queens Theatre in Flushing on May 30, 2015. His opponent was Kim Svensson, and they fought under the aggressive combat that is sanctioned by the United States Muay Thai Association (USMTA). Artemou earned a unanimous decision after a lopsided fight.

Artemou then continued with his training, developing his kickboxing techniques to prepare him for his next encounter in the ring. The USMTA fight again rules were in force when he faced Kenneth Rayside, also at the Queens Theatre, on Oct. 3, 2015. Artemou tried to fight inside against the taller Rayside, who alternated between keeping his distance and attacking aggressively. Suddenly, Artemou lashed out with a kick that caught Rayside on the chin and dropped him at the 58-second mark for a knockout.

Two months later, he was ready to face Anthony Brown, also unbeaten in two matches. The date was Dec. 12 and the venue was the Javits Center in New York City. They fought under World Kickboxing Association rules.

Artemou related that Brown was dominant in the beginning, throwing punches and quick shots to his face. His opponent also landed a few kicks. The momentum switched to the Hicksville fighter after Brown hurt his leg. Artemou took charge, and after landing a punch to the face, he knocked Brown to the mat. Brown lay unconscious for a few minutes before coming to. The win ended the year on a high note, with Artemou improving to 3-0.

Artemou began his police training at the New York Police Department Academy last month and strongly feels that this is a great service for him and that he has the right temperament to be a police officer. In addition, he feels the police academy will better prepare him for MMA with its emphasis on discipline, behavior and rules of conduct.

Regarding his future, Artemou said he wants to keep competing in amateur kickboxing matches and keep mastering kickboxing.

“I would love to become a professional MMA fighter, that’s one of my dreams… I am definitely going to keep competing,” he said.

Artemou, who is preparing to face his next opponent, has a message to aspiring MMA fighters just getting into the sport. His advice is to find an incredible instructor, stay consistent and be motivated. “You got to find yourself to do it,” stated Artemou.

While attending the police academy, he still trains 4-5 days a week at the gym.

“When you first start out training and keep working at it, you will see yourself progressing and getting better, it’s the best thing in the world,” he said. “Your attitude changes and you feel comfortable with fighting; it carries onto everyday life.”

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