On Saturday, March 2, and handful of fighter hopefuls gathered in the conference room of a Midtown Manhattan hotel. The agenda: trying out for a slot on the card for an amateur MMA tournament called “Kings of New York” at the Hammerstein Ballroom – a venue 14 blocks away that usually hosts music acts like the Chemical Brothers and Radiohead, but on March 23 will instead host fights within a cage.

“Our goal is to become the Golden Gloves of MMA,” said Anthony Medina, CEO of Fighters Source, the organization putting together both the tryouts, the March 23 show, and four more additional events scheduled for the New York City area.

If the goal is a lofty one, it’s at least one they’ve been striving to reach for some time. Medina already has a similar tournament underway in Florida, with idea that the best competitors out of bunch will form Team USA for a future clash with Team South Korea. In 2012, the crop of fighters that comprised the US contingent flew to Boras, Sweden and got their asses kicked by the locals; Medina hopes these tryouts and subsequent tournaments will produce a roster more elite than the last.

Although less than ten aspiring amateur fighters showed up to the tryouts, it’s anticipated that there will be no shortage of competitors at the Kings of New York event. After all, since New York remains one of the last states to accept MMA as an permitted sporting endeavor, opportunities to fight in a cage have until only very recently been sparse.

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